Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tracking to a challenge

There is a renowned quote which reads something like: 
“One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted…....If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job”
Jose Ortega y Gasset

Well stated! ……in a modern world where the general public are more distracted from nature, than by nature, Jose’s written words will not be appreciated,  let alone comprehended. It is only those that accept and value the nature of the world, not man’s reconstruction of it, that can part from the concrete and steel and cyberspace and convenience and profit and feel at home and comfortable in the wilds.
It is my humble opinion that a progression in hunting is only to be achieved by the regression of the hunter. A shift away from technology and contemporary improvements. A graduation to the fundamentals…………Tracking.

The spoor of an animal can be followed visually by the trail of disturbance to soil and vegetation, or olfactorally by the deposited scent trail. Generally the best results are achieved through the harmonization of these two. Where the scent deposits are unavailable the visual party are responsible for the advancement of the course and visa/versa. No evident trail signals the end of the hunt. The polished skills of the cooperative and their concentrated efforts can result in success, but the natural playing field is vast, complicated and challenging, full of natural obstacles and puzzles.

However, the more challenging often equates to the most memorable. 
And so it was on this day:
At 6am the hounds were directed to the track of a mature male Leopard. Progress was forcibly unhurried due to the intermittent soil conditions that only offered scent in select sections and visual tracks in other. We persisted until the trail entered a steep ravine where the scent line improved dramatically leading us to an impassable collection of boulders that only a Leopard could navigate.

Although we did not kill, we truly hunted.