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Pressure Release Study, Part III

by Tom Brown Jr.

In the past two newsletters we have discussed the various internal and external pressure release systems. This is by no means a complete list of the pressure releases but it is a good start. Remember that there are 85 internal pressure releases, 85 external pressure releases, and 65 indicators. You have learned but 35. It is my intent in this article to up that number by 10 times by making you aware of things that can happen within a given footprint.

The pressure releases that you have learned so far should be categorized as major pressure releases. The pressure releases we will be dealing with in this article are called secondaries and digitals. Once discovering these secondary and digital pressure release systems, you will increase your understanding of what precisely the foot is doing and what changes it has undertaken. This adds a greater depth to the exacting qualifications of print analysis and brings into play some of the indicator pressure release systems.

On some of the man and animal footprints you have been studying, you may have found some rather confusing pressure releases super-imposed on top or along side larger pressure releases. The larger pressure releases that we have discussed are "primaries". Anything occurring later, along side or on top of this major pressure release is called "secondary".

A good example of this would be an internal pressure release called a "dish." This dish is easily defined and can be seen quite readily in most prints; but where it becomes confusing is when a seemingly secondary pressure release overrides the primary. In other words, it is possible to have a primary dish overridden by a secondary plate. This happens quite frequently and should not be a source of confusion. This simply means that the person or animal was moving along at a good rate, throwing a dish pressure release, when as an afterthought, through a secondary disk. The secondary disk simply means that as the animal or man came through his gate there was a slight mitigated and uneven push off, causing the secondary pressure release. This could also occur when the animal is showing a slight indecision or hesitation or momentary slowing of gait, then picking back up the speed and consistency.

This can also occur with the external pressure release systems. The most common form is when one plate overrides another plate and refuses to throw a fissure. This piling of plates is referred to as "stacking" or "external stepping" and is caused by varying pressures at irregular angles. Stepping or stacking can occur when an animal is stopping or slowing down with some hesitation, as a deer would do when it is coming down off a gallop into a danger area and can't decide whether to slow down, change direction, or speed up.

Digital Pressure Releases
Digital pressure releases are those pressure releases that occur in the individual toes of a given foot or paw print. They are exactly the same and are caused in the same way as the major pressure releases found in the past two, newsletters, only they occur in each toe individually. It is possible to have all the same pressure release systems in every toe or for every toe to have a different pressure release. In essence, in a fox foot, the left two toes can have dishing and the right two toes have dishing, occurring on the same foot, while the overall pressure release of the paw print can be a primary plate fissure occurring on the heal pad. In this way you can precisely determine so many things about the animal.

Toe pressure release systems, digital Pressure releases, are quite difficult to read, unless the tracker first establishes the pivotal point and overall body movement in reference to the landscape. Being a good coyote teacher I will let you toy with that problem yourselves. I would also like to add that individual (smaller) pressure releases can occur at various parts of the foot, overriding, under, along side, and individually throughout the print. These are usually filed under indicator pressure release systems.

From The Tracker magazine, 1985, published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the Tracker Trail website.