Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Tricky Tracking

I love all those apocryphal tales of mythical bushmen endowed with demon tracking skills who can follow cats over solid rock in the dark etc.  But then maybe those stories are actually true.  David Attenborough seems to think so therefore they must be.

Anyway, see what you make of this.  To the right of this fence is a strange flattened area among the heather.

A closer look reveals the presence of brown hair.

But why would an animal lie down here and what was it?  A scout about in the nearby undergrowth produces bones. The pelvis and part of the lower spine....

a leg bone....

and finally, buried well away under the trees...

the skull with the teeth of a herbivore

Its a deer, but what happened to it and when?  A close examination of the upper two wires of the fence reveals the slightest of kinks, one above the other, in otherwise ramrod straight lines.

And, by the kinks, on each wire directly in line vertically, a mark or stain.

Put the pieces together and the story goes like this.  A year or so ago, a deer tried to jump the fence, spooked by something.  Unlike these three that cleared the same fence without mishap.....

...this one misjudged the leap and its hind leg went through the gap between the top two wires.  As the animal's momentum carried it over the fence and down onto the other side the top two wires got crossed over with the deer's leg pinned between the two.  The tension in the wires was so drum tight that the beast had no chance of freeing itself.  Doomed, it suffered a lingering death.  Eventually the foxes, crows, buzzards, insects, fungi etc cleaned up the lot and scattered the remains.

Impressed by my tracking skills?  Well don't be. A year back, I passed this same spot and found the deer hung up in the fence.  Never mind all that clever Ray Mears stuff.  This is the way to do tracking. Watch it happen, keep quiet about it then come along later and read the signs with authority.  Maybe Mr M. already thought of that?

For more tracking cons....try this.


  1. Great post, I'd get onto Channel Five if I was you, I reckon there's a CSI Northumberland in the making.

  2. How sad for the deer. I have had the same thing happen with my goats but I fortunately was there to rescue them when they got stuck.

  3. Thanks Linda. I'll remember that tip if I ever fall on hard times!

  4. Hi Kerry. These fence wires were so taught that its hard to imagine that this could actually happen. However, a friend of mine who has worked most of his life in the Cheviots says he has come across this same thing on several occasions.