The daily rides up the hill and into the forest have us watching the trails for signs of elk and deer around our baby trees. With most of the trails turning to dust, I find that I have to be off the Gator and walking slowly to recognize forest creatures from the dogs that like to bound along ahead of us. Mike is better and quicker at spotting the signs, he is able to distinguish what it was made from, how many there are, which direction they going, and what area we should head to in order to spook them off. I’m surprised he isn’t able to tell what they had for breakfast and where they are going to bed down for the night (he is pretty good at understanding animal behavior but there are limits).
We have seen some unusual tracks on and off during the summer that did not fit the expected mold of deer, elk, cougar or dog. A couple of times we thought that there had been quail or other small birds taking dust baths and creating impressions in the dust since we could not quite figure out what it was that was making the prints. with the dust sloughing into the tracks.
Today it has been confirmed, first by Mike then with a closer look by me, it was indeed bear tracks walking not too far from our test plot of cedar seedlings and headed for the wild blackberry patch on the far side of the ridge.
I tried to get Mike to put his hand close to the print to show size but he ended up about two feet closer to the camera than the print, but the two are about the same size. From the looks of the tracks it appears to be only a solitary animal that make these prints.
I was quick to point out that the bear did not just suddenly appear and that there must be a family that he/she came from and possibly still hangs out with. Mike did agree with that point but he says that this one seems to be a happy loner. How he can tell that from a few prints in the dust is another one of those things that gets said around here, I am more skeptical and will hold further comments until proven one way or another.
Over the years, the deer and elk hunters have seen a bear here and there around the miles and miles they travel through the woods during the fall hunting season and we had not heard of any reports or had seen any tracks here on the farm for several years.