How to tell how old a track is

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dwalton
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How to tell how old a track is

Postby dwalton » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:42 pm

How many hour old is a track? I know most of guys know that you can't tell if a track is 10 minutes old or 24 hours old. There has to be ways to give one an idea just how old it is other than just by how the dogs are acting. Lets hear so ideas. Here are a few for me. If I am leaving the woods at dark and it starts snowing by the time I get to camp it quite snowing any tracks I find the next morning with snow in it had to be made late afternoon or early evening the day before, the same goes for wet snow and freezing in the early evening. If I find a track that is made early morning in snow a lot of times you can see it walking on the top after the frost was made, an early morning track which even though it may be fresh it can be a tuff track to trail. Snow conditions can make it easy. Lets think about bare ground was the track made before the dew came down or after, has there been a rain shower to give one a time or has the sun been on the track on the track drying the edges. A few times that I could tell how old a track was twice I have put on tracks and trailed over the mountain to where I put on and caught the cat the day before. One time I cut a cat in the snow that was on the frost and the dogs could not trail it even though I thought they should. I cut another later in the day that was down in the wet snow from the night before and trailed it four hours later to the one I tried that morning this time they took it out and treed it where they did not that morning. I am thinking it was a least 4 hours old. Once on bare ground I trailed a cat and caught it was a big rutting tom. The next day I hit a big tom up on the ridge above that track and trailed down to it and the dogs quit. With a good muddy skid trail the only cat track on it was one big tom. I trailed a lion in Colorado in '69 that I did not get jumped, 9 days later I came threw that canyon cutting the dry wash that I hit that lion in before hopping it came back through. The dogs started to give tail and opening under the over hangs and there was the lion track. The dogs trail up to where I hit it 9 days before they were trying to work the same track that I had already worked. If one hunts enough and is able to read sign or even look for sign one can get an idea part of the time as to how old a track is. Lets hear some more stories as to how old a track is? I just thought of another one starting a cat off of a scat, if the sun has hit it it will dry out if it is in the early morning and it has dried some the scat was made the day before when it could have sun on it. Dewey
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby pegleg » Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:08 pm

If I rode through there this morning and there was no tracks but they're there tonight that tells me how old they are. Or if they show up the next day. But in truth I don't care how old they are my job is to judge whether the dogs are likely to catch it. I don't put a lot of time into figuring out how old they are for a couple reasons. One it doesn't matter much if the dogs can't move it how old it is. Here age isn't the main or only reason tracks fade. And secondly with very little visual track sign if the dogs show desire or ability to work a track they are allowed to. We aren't likely to find anything better to run that day anyway. Unless its close to morning or evening and the bobcats maybe moving. But I understand in some places its a good thing to have some ability to age tracks .
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby U.R.E. » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:17 pm

Agree 100% with Dewey and Pegleg.
Who cares how old it is? Question is; giving the conditions to which we have, at that given time, can we catch it? Only one way to know is to let em try.
If ya don't get it jumped move on and try for another. If ya catch it.....well, move on and try for another.
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby david » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:13 pm

I will give you one example for a case where it would be really nice to be able to figure out how long tracks are holding.

I prefer hunting in the morning, but I will hunt whenever I have the most chance for some action. Therefore, if tracks are only holding for a very short time, and the hunt/fish time table , and recent hunts show me they are likely moving around three in the morning then I will do my best to be there when they are active, or shortly after. If scent has been holding well, I will hunt the dawn, when I enjoy it more. Like wise, if I can age tracks and figure out they are not holding during the day but are holding well at night,(or vice versa when tracks freeze in) I will strategize accordingly.

I have seen conditions in Florida where you had about five minutes to get under a cat at night and no chance at all In the sun. You have a good chance of seeing a cat there and sandy, track holding roads you can do a repetitive circuit on. Also deer hunters will sometimes let you know exactly what time and where they saw a cat. So it is entirely possible to figure out how scent is holding. Not always easy to do, but certainly very possible.

But most of the time, I don't have the privilege of rejecting certain times in favor of other times. Unless I am on vacation, I just have to go when I am free to go. So disregard what I said above. :D
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby barksalot » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:10 am

This account will be very unimpressive to most of you. And it is about a coon track, not a cat but it is the only time there was no guess work about the time. I turned Brooks down a spring branch that supplies my house with water. He struck a track that wandered a generally circular route for about 2 miles. I noticed on the GPS that he went by a deer feeder station that I had a time stamp camera on. He treed about 300 yards beyond that point and had the coon laid up apparently asleep in a large oak tree. When I reviewed the picture card, there was a coon in the bait at 7:00 and Brooks showed up at 11:11. I don't know how far in time he was behind at the strike but it was 4 hours and 11 minuets by the time he got to the bait station.
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby dog lake blues » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:02 am

I'm with Don!!! Who cares how old it is?I know if they strike it then it's worth trying. If it's in snow I know when it last snowed and if they can give a little tongue and advance the track then it boils down to a patience game and giving the hides time to make me happy to be feeding them!!! Dewey Don't you think your dogs are sight trailing the track in old snow???? Please don't tell me they are smelling a week old track on wet ground?
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby al baldwin » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:38 am

I realize there are clues to how old a track may be, when one can find a track, or scat, however it is still a best guess in my opinion. I assume some believe once running dog is crossed into tree bred dogs, offspring has superior nose power? To each his own opinion. Al
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby rockytrails » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:54 am

I agree let the mutts figure it out. I also like to try to figure it out. I like to observe tracks that I or the dogs make. A couple days ago I was following the dogs. When I headed back to the truck I got back on our trail. Amazing how much our tracks had changed in the snow in 4 hours and about 50 degrees. Worst part is my mind didn't retain all the different details. I know a track I crossed today had to be yesterday afternoon or early evening. I could see pad and toes even though the lion had walked in about 4" of a slush. Then froze last night. Dogs struck it. Probably because it started to thaw.
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby david » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:47 am

david
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby david » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:00 am

Also, as in Rocky Trails example, if I can eliminate unworkable tracks by sight, it gives me an advantage.

For example the snow has slightly hard crusted and I have already tried several tracks that were made in soft snow to no avail. I start looking, not for cat tracks, but for that one spot out here where the weight of the cat was just enough to crack the top plate and push it down a little. Does not look like a cat track at all. But everything that does is unworkable.

I have actually caught cats in the above situation that I never would have known about or put down on if I had not made efforts to age tracks; and try and determine what a recent track should look like.
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby david » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:08 am

"Who are those guys..."
(From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Lol)

Who are those guys...

Doesn't any body want to be "those guys"?

Dream a little. Use your imagination. Tap in to the force, lol. Life is far too serious. Find the next level.

I know I am a little off, but to me, animal tracks are about as fascinating as life gets. It is a reminder and evidence of another world going on outside my ability to see it.
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby U.R.E. » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:10 pm

I guess I look at it from a different perspective. I don't care when it was made as long as we are trailing on it what does it matter.

What I ponder is: why is the cat here? Is it the same cat I caught in this area last week? What is it feeding on? Why did it cross here, not there? What is the environment? Ambient temperature? Humility?

So I suppose I think about it more than I thought now that I think about it. Not that it matters.

I've heard whiteline fevor can send your mind into strange and wonderious corners. Kinda like Alice in wonderland.
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby U.R.E. » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:27 pm

When it is a dim track I do wonder if there is a dog that could move this track faster.
I wonder if that pup I'm hauling around is gonna be the one that moves dim tracks like it is jumped like dogs I have read about.
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dwalton
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby dwalton » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:29 pm

Dog lake blues yes I have dogs that will sight trail a track in snow and have caught cats with them that scent trailing dogs would not work. It goes back to aging a track if there has been old snow on the ground I will not put the dogs on a two day old track to trail by sight. Conditions are what makes a track hard to trail or I should say a change in conditions. Wet ground is not the best condition, damp ground, no wind or sun and constance conditions make the best trailing. I have caught a lot of cats that were hard to trail or on a strike that were bad conditions that I thought was a fresh track by walking them up or letting them try a little longer. One example was a track that I had seen crossing several roads in snow that had been rained on and was raining. The last track was headed up to the rims on a brushy nob. Walking up the rained out track within a couple of hundred yards of the rim the dogs opened and jumped and tree the cat in minutes. Don I take what I hit as all of you do but in a lot of the areas I hunt there are few cats maybe only hitting 1 or 2 a day if I can age the track I might work a little harder to get that cat. I feel some dogs are better than others at cold trailing but also believe that getting the confidence in a dogs own ability to get pass the dead spots in a cat track helps a lot in catching a higher percentage of tracks started. As you said I think the more one knows about bobcats the better his and his dogs become at catching bobcats. I have hunted with people that have hunted for years and did not look for sign or know what bobcat scat looked like. As you are Don the dogs hunt with me I don't hunt with the dogs. There are some decisions I make and some the dogs make which increases the odds. Good hunting Dewey
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Re: How to tell how old a track is

Postby U.R.E. » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:46 pm

I think along the same lines as Dewey. I don't even refer to tracks as "old" or "fresh". To me a track is "dim" or. "bright". Conditions dictate the condition of the track. Conditions are always changing whether it be atmospheric or geographical. A track may be holding under cover but go dim in the open, even when all other conditions are holding or contrary.
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