Tracking Mystery Continued… Sort Of

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the faux bear tracks, I have this ridiculousness to share:

My hunter colleague came into the office this morning, and I told him teasingly that he needed to work on his bear tracking skills.  Whoops.  He got pretty ruffled, and insisted that those tracks were indeed from a bear.  To the point where we both went back down to see the tracks – me with field guide and measuring tape in hand – and had a rather, ah, lively debate.  (If you want to skip the technical tracking stuff, just browse over the next paragraph – and see my plea below the photo).

Needless to say, I still stand  by my assertion that these are canine tracks from a very big domestic dog (one which lives across the street, in fact).  My colleagues’ proof that these were from a bear was a drawing of one possible interpretation of a bear track (which looked oddly canine but, whatever). Mine was the photographs of black bear feet and tracks that clearly show an asymmetrical toe pattern and differently shaped heel pad. Even if the fifth toe didn’t register, there’s no way a bear would have a track that so repeatedly had a symmetrical toe pattern. There was even a PERFECT example of a canine track (all the toes close together, pyramidal mound in the center, very symmetrical in appearance) and he just plain refused to acknowledge that it could be anything other than bear.  His main argument?  Size.  Some of the tracks were close to five inches apart, but others (in the same trail, so clearly from the same animal) were only three inches apart. I tried explaining how dogs spread their toes when they walk which can account for their tracks looking vastly different along the same trail. No good. Apparently he’s not familiar with our neighbor’s dogs.  He wants me to measure their feet and give him exact proof that those are the animals that made these tracks. It’s tempting, but I probably won’t bother.

photo: Luke Bryant

Why is it that some (not all, but there’s definitely a population of them out there) hunters think that just because they hunt that their outdoor knowledge and skills instantly trump everyone else’s? I give huge credit to hunters – they have a tremendous wealth of outdoor skills, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of nature knowledge!!!  Just because I have a background that’s different, doesn’t make my abilities and knowledge any less valid.

Does this happen in other settings?  Has anyone else ever dealt with a sub-population of people within their field that think that somehow their particular way of coming into their field makes them better at what they do than everyone else??  SO frustrating!!!   I’m sure there’s some male ego at work here – he doesn’t want to be shown up by a female in what is clearly a male-dominated pastime (hunting, that is).  Somebody tell me that I’m not alone here….

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Comments

6 Responses to “Tracking Mystery Continued… Sort Of”
  1. You’re definitely not alone! As I was reading this, I was thinking that it was a male ego thing. I used to work in professional sports. Talk about male-dominated. Take heart. He probably knows you’re right. He just won’t admit it. I believe you! :)

    • Withywindle Nature says:

      You’re awesome – thanks Jennifer!! :) I can’t even imagine working in professional sports – what was your job?

      • I worked in Major League Soccer and the AHL. I coordinate season tickets and groups. It was fun….when I was younger and didn’t mind working hours on end in a cold stadium or arena. The best part was that I was taller than the soccer players! (I’m 5’2″)

        • Withywindle Nature says:

          Can you imagine how small you’d feel if you had worked in the NFL? Those guys make their coaches look tiny!

  2. I don’t think that a hunter is going to think that a female naturalist knows what she is talking about ..after all..you don’t even wear clothes… I would SOOOO put the stuffed bears there..but don’t do it…LOL…

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