Viewing wildlife safely: photography, tracking, and identification
Viewing wildlife and animal tracks safely, getting the most out of your experience, including purchasing backpacks, hiking boots, clothing, and field identification guides.
Viewing wildlife in its natural habitat can be easier to do if a few simple rules are followed... quiet, look, listen, and do not touch! Safety is an important issue, and we are going to look at ways to be safe when participating in this wonderful hobby.
Know where you are going. This sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised at how many people just take a drive into the countryside, park their vehicle, and walk into the woods. While many may return unharmed, many more become lost. Planning, deciding on a destination, and getting a map of the area to familiarize yourself with where you will be going, are the first steps to be taken. Many county maps will also point out areas of interest and places specifically for viewing wildlife. Going out into the ?wild' is not necessary to view wildlife even. Many state and counties offer marked trails to follow. These are an excellent way to try out this hobby. Clothing and Footwear
Dress appropriately. A sturdy pair of hiking boots is a priority. Make sure they fit properly, as a pair of ill fitting boots can be a danger in itself. They should also be waterproof, as this will help keep feet warm if you end up out longer than intended. Even morning dew can soak feet, and wet feet equal cold feet. Dress in layers. Outdoor temperatures can vary drastically nearly everywhere, summer, fall, winter and spring. The hottest day of summer in a southern state can be followed by freezing temperatures overnight. While you may not plan on being out overnight, always be prepared ahead. Always plan for the unexpected when dealing with nature. Backpacks
A backpack is a necessity for even a short excursion. You should try on a backpack for fit. Wider straps are always a good bet. This will help distribute the weight evenly. Check stitching, make sure it has been constructed well. A backpack that falls apart right away will do you no good. Make sure it is comfortable and has enough room for the basic supplies that should be carried with you. Always pack a basic first aid kit, water, map, compass, (know how to use the compass), bug spray, and a pair of binoculars or viewing glasses.
Never Approach Wildlife
Remember that you are out in the wild to ?view' nature. Never approach an animal, no matter how cute it is. Never presume that a baby animal has been abandoned and needs your help. Mother is most likely not far away, and in truth, baby animals are the most dangerous to view, as their parent can be quite aggressive if they feel you are endangering their young. While large animals instantly come to mind, this rule applies to even the smallest. For example, a mother turkey will chase, attacking with claws and beak, if she feels you are too close to her chicks. While you may not find this dangerous, believe me, it is quite scary when you are the one being chased. You also risk losing your sense of direction and becoming lost is most hazardous. Extras
A ?field identification' guide is a good investment. These come in everything from full sized volumes to pocket sized guides. These are available for everything from mammals to fish, birds, particular regions, states, etc. One I have found to be particularly helpful is a guide to animal tracks. Many times while out viewing wildlife, the most I have encountered is the animal's footprints. This handy little book allows me to ?see' what animal has just walked where I am now standing. A journal of where you have went and what wildlife you viewed or tracks seen, is a good way to enjoy your hobby even after getting back home. This can be as simple as a spiral notebook. Finally
Always leave nature the way you found it, if anything, cleaner. Take your garbage out with you. If you encounter trash along the way, be a good friend to the wildlife you are viewing and pick up the trash. Remember, viewing wildlife is a privilege, help take care of nature so the generation after us can also participate in this wonderful hobby!
Take a Hike Choosing the Right Hiking Boot is Serious Business
Choosing the right hiking boot will make your long walking trip more enjoyable. You will be able to face rugged terrains without slipping, and pound miles of paved road without inflicting excess pain onto your foot. Many hiking boots are waterproof, as well, which helps keep your feet warm and dry in any weather conditions.
There are many styles of hiking boots. Look for a style of hiking boot that is noted for being lightweight, stable, and has one-piece construction. Good hiking boots should have an inner waterproof liner, as well as the ability to repel water on the outside of the boot. Look for a boot that only weighs 2 to 14 ounces. This type of hiking boot is best for moderate and off-trail hikes. One company that makes a style of boot like this is Vasquez Company. Their boot, the Sundowner, offers all the basics of a good quality-hiking boot.
Another style of hiking boot that is available is appropriate for long distance hiking. The sole of this boot should be filled with nylon shank that helps provide great lateral and edging stability for the serious long distance hiker. One example of a boot of this quality is the Mountain Trekker. This boot has desirable features that make it a popular choice, such as gunmetal lacing eyes, rubber rand and midsoles, and full leather lining. This boot is lightweight, too and weighs only 3 to 6 ounces.
Another type of boot that provides hikers with extra support for hiking is the Makalu boot. This is a tough boot designed for heavy-duty long distance hiking. The break-in time for this particular boot is quite long at time, but reviewers like how the Makulu's thick and tanned waxy leather keeps out moisture. Consumers who have purchased this brand also have pointed out that this boot's toe box is a bit narrow. Furthermore, some consumers complain about blisters and hot spots on their feet. This boot weighs more than most at 4 pounds 14 oz.
However, when purchasing hiking boots, it is important to carefully consider the use of the shoe and the shape of your foot. You will be spending a lot of time on your feet while hiking, so it is vital to choose boots that are comfortable. Not all hiking boots are for everyone, so try on several brands and styles before making a decision.
There are several other types of hiking boots that are made for extra comfort. These are the ones that are usually custom made, and are more costly than standard boots. However, the added price a consumer pays for this extra comfort is usually worth it for some. These hiking boots are said to conform to your foot like a second skin, making it comfortable for walking a long distance. Limmer & Sons is one company that makes this variety of hiking boots.
The average boot of this quality is still considered lightweight, but weighs considerably more than most lightweight boots. These boots typically weigh over 4 pounds, which is almost as much as the Makalu style boot that is often recommended. However, for day trips and rock climbing there is yet another type of boot to wear. A boot that is recommended for trips activities is a boot with leathers such as the full grain nubuck, leather uppers, gusseted nubuck tongue, and polyurethane dual density midsole for lateral stability. One boot that has these qualities is called the Triple Divide boot. This is one of the lightest rock-climbing boots available on the market today. One disadvantage of this brand of boot is that it is not meant for heavier load hauling. However, on day trips, even if rock climbing is involved, this type of boot will be sufficient.
Before purchasing a hiking boot, make sure that you know exactly what you will be using it for. You have plenty of styles and boots to choose from for all your hiking needs. Choose a shoe for a particular purpose such as short walks or long day trips, and rock climbing. Furthermore, when purchasing a hiking boot think about the type of landscape you will be trekking through. For rougher terrains any one of the above or similar styles would be appropriate. For designated nature trails, such as the ones in state parks, you can probably wear a very high quality walking or everyday running shoe such those offered by Nike, Asics, Reebok or similar brands.
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