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Monday, 4 November 2013

Ray Mears Tracks Raoul Moat

Ray Mears is one of the leading experts on Bushcraft and Survival skills in the world, In this BBC interview he talks about his involvements in the hunt for killer Raoul Moat and describes how he went about tracking him;

Tracking skills are often taught as part of the wide ranging set of skills which makes up 'bushcraft', although it's practical application to track murderers and criminals is the exception rather than the rule there are many real life applications of tracking. My countryside management students learn to recognise sign and determine from indirect observation of droppings, feeding signs footprints and other signs to determine the species of animal or bird and also to determine the population of a certain species and evaluate the amount of damage a certain species does. The following pictures show some sign and how it might be interpreted;

Typical damage caused to a young ash tree, in this case by a male roe deer (a buck), this bole scoring as it's known is caused by a male deer scraping upwards with the point or points of their antlers scoring the trees bark. The height of the damage above the ground is somewhat indicative of the species causing the damage. 

A reeves muntjac 'slot' or footprint. Reeves muntjac are the smallest deer found wild in the UK, as you can see here the slot could almost be covered up with the pad of your thumb. You can also see from the more faded, indistinct prints surrounding this print that this one is much fresher.   

A deer 'couch' a sheltered area, often under trees or in scrubby areas where deer lay up during periods of inactivity.

A picture from my time in Sweden, typical damage caused by a beaver. 

What Mr Mears describes are these same skills amplified by his many years of experience and used in this case to track a human, and there really are many people who use tracking in their lives and careers in the countryside.

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