When Maggie and I went out for our morning walk it was a different world from yesterday's wind and blowing snow and biting cold. The sun was shining! And something had made two parallel tracks across my back yard. Now if you live in the NE United States, you probably don't even have to go look to tell me what made those.
The tracks converged in one of my flower beds, and came out the other side looking like one track. OK, so there were two animals walking side by side, and then they got in line one behind the other. Do you know what it is yet? I went to try to find an impression, even though the snow was deep.
When the snow is this deep it's usually really hard to find a good footprint way down at the bottom of the trail. This was the first one I found. I was going to follow the track and find a better one, but Maggie had designs on that track and she put her nose into it and walked right along it for so far that I wasn't willing to go try to find a better print (leg is better, but snowshoeing makes it ache). If you roll over the picture with your mouse, I've tried to help you see what is deep in that trail.
Yes, it's a whitetail deer. Now let's back up and I'll show you some good tracks from a few days ago when there was only a little snow. This one is probably a doe. It's not too large. I REALLY need to put a little ruler in my pocket to put down beside these pictures. I'll try to remember to do that. So, what do you look for in deer prints? That V shape. It's pretty simple! The deer is moving in the direction that the V points, just like an arrow. Now there is just one little curve to throw at you.
Sometimes you will see the two marks of the dewclaws. This deer was moving right to left (just ignore that twig ahead of the track), but behind the track, see the two dimples? Deer have dewclaws, those little extra toes that seem like they are on the ankle. Both does and bucks will leave dewclaw marks in soft surfaces, but given the size of this track (sorry, I WILL put a ruler in my pocket), and the fact that the surface wasn't very soft, I think this was a buck.
So from now on, when you see those V's on my blog, your first thought will be... whitetail deer. Of course other species of deer, elk, etc will have very similar tracks. But we don't have other choices in the wild right here.
Tomorrow, I have a big announcement to make. Well, not that big! Come back and find out.
|See Down By the Creek for deer tracks in mud|