Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tracks in the Mud

When the snow melts, you are left with mud. Last week, this was a snowy trail covered by a swarm of deer tracks. Now there are tracks, but they’re in the mud and the trail is suffering.

Several years ago, deer began using this area as a trail. Eventually, they created a worn path that caught and concentrated the runoff water from the surrounding area. The resulting erosion formed this stair-step waterfall that continues to increase in size. Now I’ve got to fix this and divert the deer along a different path.

This strip of ground gets mowed each year to define a trail going between fields. Despite the fact that the grass is practically non-existent in the field, the deer will funnel to the trail head at the top of the hill and use this path to cross the field. The deer weren’t numerous enough 25 years ago to cause problems like this. Now they are a new variable that needs to be considered when planning trails.

Where the deer go, the turkeys follow. Here’s a nice middle toe imprint from a blob of mud kicked up by the deer. When moving from one area to another, turkeys will follow in a line. They also like to have a nice clear trail and tend to follow paths made by the deer.

If the prey like it, so will the predators. Canine tracks are regular features along the deer trails. This track was too small to represent anything large enough to bother a deer. Total track length was just over 1.5 inches and I’m guessing Gray Fox. The track was found in an area where I saw foxes last summer.


  1. Alright... you've shown us snow tracks and mud tracks. You know what's next in the series, right? Scat! We came across a hefty pile of deer poo on our property the other day, but it was hard to tell if it was fresh or if had simply been rehydrated by recent rains and snow melt. It was very close to a path that the deer often use to get out onto the road to access the field across the street from us.

  2. Heather - I'll take that as a request.