Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Snow Tracking: Roe Deer

The midwinter of 2009/10 afforded some excellent snow cover which allowed even the most myopic tracker the chance to see what was going on. My local woods are infested with roe deer and it's difficult to enter the woods at any time of the year without disturbing one or two animals from their covers in the thickets or catching a glimpse as they browse along the field margins but with the snow on the ground it was even easier to follow their tracks.
I headed for a game trail that always turns up fresh tracks and right from the outset it was clear that it had been used recently. With the deep snow only hours old and still retaining its firm but fluffy texture the tracks stood out clear and well defined. In places where the ground was wet the tracks were pushed into the wet clay earth showing very well formed cleats. There were fresh scrapes all over the forest floor, where deer had turned over the soil beneath the snow to get to hidden bulbs and roots, one of these was the biggest scrap I have ever seen - with a spoil heap almost two meters long.
When you follow a track it is nice to know that the animal is just ahead of you and this I was rewarded with a glimpse of a roe buck as it slipped through the long grass at the edge of the woods, beneath the freezing morning sky.

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