I just finished the most awesome week in a tracking class with world renown tracking expert, Jim Halfpenny. Lucky for me the class took place at a dude ranch 5 minutes down the road and although many of the ranch’s clients participated, the final day, Friday, on gaits. was attended by only myself. So, I had a private lesson. And as it turns out, gaits have always been difficult for me to understand. I’m that person when you say “Raise your left hand”, you have to tell me “No, the other left!”. And that’s why four-legged animals, with double the rights and lefts, confuse me no end. Jim is a fantastic teacher and was able to simplify the whole gait thing for me.
Monday was a general introduction day. Tuesday we all headed for the Park, leaving here at 5:00 am sharp. We spent about 3 hours in the Lamar looking for wolves. We did finally find one lazing around in the grass. While everyone was waiting for that wolf to wake up, I spent some time checking the ridgelines and found 30 Bighorn sheep. Then it was off to Canyon for a look at their new visitors’ center which opened this year. I hadn’t seen it and I must say it was very impressive. The displays were all centered around the volcanic activity in the Park.
After watching some coyotes catch grasshoppers and a lunch byt the river, Jim took us to a bear cave. We hiked in about 1/2 mile. This cave has been used on and off by bears for many years. It looked tiny from the opening, but once you crawled inside, all 14 of us fit quite easily and we could even stand up. It wasn’t smelly at all. Quite comfortable I must say.
Thursday was devoted to time in the field finding tracks and casting them. I was so excited because I’ve been wanting to learn to cast but wasn’t sure about proper technique. We casted several different Grizzlies tracks, as well as raccoon, mink, and wolf.
Here I am on Friday with my ‘graduation’ exercise.
Jim found a series of large dog tracks and I had to interpret what the dog was doing as well as each foot. I PASSED! We also found more grizzly, moose, tons of deer, horse, and cattle (ugh!). Now all I have to do is practice, practice, practice.