Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tracking: Rain Affecting Sign

Juwar1974 has made a comment on sign cutting and tracking horses.wmv: "I have a question. How does a heavy rain affect the tracks in the dirt? Does it wipe it out or flatten it. Would it be more difficult? Could you answer this for me, I'd really appreciate it."

Juwar, the worst that a real heavy rain can do is to wash away any sign as well as present obstacles for the tracker that could range from a nuisance to the dangerous such as bad footing for a horse or flash floods in an arroyo.

From the time the tracks are made, from the pressure and release of that pressure on the ground, until the rain washes away all evidence, various sign may be visible such as pooled water in a print depression.

If you are tracking a man and you have some definite direction he is going, leap frogging ahead to an open area such as a field or road may allow you to see him crossing or signs to indicate he crossed. I would also look for and at shoulder or roads or slopes of arroyos or gullies where the disturbance of the wet ground made by the man crossing is very likely to be evident.

           Sometimes a light rain can enhance your ability to determine how fresh the sign is. You will be able to tell if the pocked mark patterns in a print depression are pre-rain or post-rain and this will give you a timeline. Sometimes in a tracking class I will use a water hose or a spray bottle of water to demonstrate what rain can do to a print or disturbed ground.

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