In Search of the Yeti: Or A Variety of Other Creatures

By Steve of Out On The Prairie
Throughout our existence, man has searched and tracked a variety of creatures. Whether it is plain fun or looking for something to eat, it can be a good resource to learn. While you are on a hike, you may realize who else is ahead of you, or in some extreme cases, which just circled around behind you. Was it a carnivore or herbivore?

Remember omnivore means they eat everything.

First we need to understand a simple item such as being able to identify tracks. Finding a good book may be the best investment to do this. I enjoyed a juvenile literature book as my first identity book, it was easy to read and find general species I would often find tracks of. This gave me the basic knowledge and some tips that were fun to read about quickly.

I follow deer a lot, just because they are abundant and leave a good track for me to look at. If a rear track goes inside of the front I know it is a buck. Since there is
 a difference in male and female pelvises the female will leave a rear foot outside of the front foot track. It is also easy to identify their trails, well worn and well used. When I come to an area of grass all pushed down, I know they have slept there. Looking at a rub on a tree gives me an idea a buck did this. I know what their scat looks like and can identify freshness to understand how long it was since they have been around. If you look at the length of their tracks you soon can determine whether they were running or walking.

These are all steps to look at when examining a track or trail left by an animal. If you are not sure what you have found, having a camera is beneficial to record your find. This is a lot better than trying to remember shape or bagging scat and taking it
home. If you were stopped, it could be hard to explain what you have samples of and why you are carrying it around. Look for feathers or fur, great trophies for the day. We carried a canteen and plaster of paris with us when looking for tracks to mix up a small amount in a sandwich bag and pour on the track to make a cast. This is a fun way to record diversity in your finds.

Is it a friend or foe has always given us visions from good to bad, whether we should follow or stay at a distance from a creature. I have never had any perilous encounters with most of the animals I have found. I know to stay back from those who eat meat and all of us have teeth.

I laughed one time watching a group of caves hoping to find a cougar or bobcat. I could see by the sandstone, something had gone in and out by the fresh rub. A good trail to the area told me of usage. The ground was hard and stony so I couldn't find any prints. Each night at dusk I waited, hoping to catch sight or a photo of my prey. It was very cold and hard to keep my camera batteries charged for very long, and after a week I became impatient. I waited a few days and went out again. No sighting, so the next day I went with a ladder to go up in the caves. I climbed very slowly not wanting to wake a carnivore, or make it feel cornered. I listened for any sounds, even a shuffle. Slowly I peeked in and low and behold there was evidence of the occupants. There sat a empty liquor bottle and a piece of cardboard with a worn blanket. My prey had been a homeless person possibly having stayed for a short time, or staying away when they saw my vehicle down the road. I went to the county people the next week and shared my story. They all laughed and asked if it was the yeti, alias Bigfoot. I snickered a bit and then asked why the road two roads away had been named for this creature, Bigfoot Rd. They said nobody had lived to tell that story.

Well, I survived my adventure with further interest to develop my tracking skills better. I can identify a number of animals and find I take time each day I visit an area identifying what other animals have been around, including humans. I watch for tracks, scat, trails, even grasses bent to sharpen my skills. It is a lot like playing sports, the more you do it the better you get. So keep that eye trained and listen what you can hear around you, there is another part of our world to explore.

This article was written by Steve of Out On The Prairie. If you'd like to read more of his work, follow this link to find Steve's blog. Leave him a nice comment to let him know you were there. Go take a look...

Steve's Blog Out On The Prairie
Steve's Flickr Site - Iowa State Parks


  1. I love to try and identify tracks that I find in the fields...sometimes the fantasy is far more exciting than the reality.

    Great story...maybe it was bigfoot and you scared him away?!?! lol

  2. I don't know whether Bigfoot uses a blanket or not. The whole concept is intriguing, right? Anyway, you gave some really good identification tips for trackers.


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