In this exercise, you will explore your site looking as always for tracks and sign but paying special attention to hazards that have specific locations, like poison ivy or places that you might be particularly cautious about meeting up with a rattlesnake or a black widow.
Note these locations, but don’t actually go rooting through them and get yourself in a bind. In my experience, poison ivy tends to be in edge habitats: along roads, trails, streams, rivers, where fields meet forest, where forest canopies or understories open up. Check out those places at your site, as well as any others where your own research into poison ivy habitat would lead you to think that you might find it.
That last idea is important: in so many ways, mastery of trailing is about being guided by your own experience. No one can tell you where you’ll confront hazards. Yes, other people can help and make suggestions. But know if you play in the traffic, then yes, that is on you. So, do your research, find out for yourself where you are most likely to meet hazards, and then watch out for them!
When you return from the field, complete your journal. Include on your map the locations of all the hazards you saw.
From now on, when you draw maps of your site, pencil in the hazards in the same way that you would add other default features of the map, like roads and buildings. If your field time on a given day does not include the spot where a hazard is, then don’t include it – in the same way that one day, you might be so far away from a road that you don’t draw it on that day’s map. Your map does not have to be the same from day to day; it depends on how much ground you cover and where you go. Some days, you go a long way, and then you have to zoom way out, whereas other days, you are more confined in your movement and can zoom in. You will get very familiar with how to draw the map of your Basic Practice site, and that’s part of the point.
© Nate Harvey, 2015