Railway lines that are very overgrown and lead to small woods and golf courses, tracks between country parks and the river, small copse of woods with a stream or embankment that can be used for cover, using the map pan out a little from your home and see how close some of the areas may be to you. Some people find areas busy with dog walkers in good weather, are devoid of people in bad weather or at dusk and dawn, try and leave the walked paths and just see how you feel when your there or if you recognise any signs you have seen yourself, some things will stand out and wont make sense to you no matter how bad the weather gets, most of what you will find will be wind damage or people but the odd tree twist or arch will be around if you find the right area, sadly most of the research is at first trial and error, finding the area and your own technique should be part of the fun in my opinion. And do whatever you want when there, some of us just sit and talk, some do their art or music, other like to gift or document what they find and when and that can be very important indeed.
Which leads us to the signs that your in good ground, well that differs from place to place, some areas have lots of signs that change over time, other have smaller hidden pockets where signs are found, from the ground sticks we think mark food sources or trails to the huge X and Arches we find in some of the bigger woods, but some of the sign can be subtle and hard to notice, there are some very good examples on what to look for and what others are finding on you tube (links at end of article) and face book and they seem to be all across the UK. The one I'm asked most about are the Teepee structures or dens as some people call them, now when finding them some do resemble bush craft shelters, but there are small differences that can tell you if its human the biggest being there is normally a burn patch or hearth for the fire, the logs may be cut but could be gathered from tree fall so don't rely only on that, look at the ground, do you see signs of walking, twigs broken, foliage or leaves disturbed? signs of footprints or boots and the usual debris we humans leave behind, and there should be signs of the covering if it is human, a shelter in itself should shelter you from the weather so there should be some sign of moss or bracken, debris or even sign of tent pegs or tree damage from a tarp being tied. But the "shelters" themselves that we think maybe wildman related have no sign of these and the sticks and logs are placed in an awkward way that hold no protection from the weather or detection, surely a den of some kind would be hidden away out of sight, a blind also, but these structures seem almost to stand out, as if they are to be noticed, a message board or sign of some kind? well at the moment we have no solid ideas only theories, but what i would like to do is document them over time.
If you find a similar shelter type build or any of the known signs, it would be a good idea to document it over time if possible, to rule out human intervention or weather, do the sticks change position? are any added or taken away? or is there no change at all? It may be that they are all just very shoddy bush craft and that's OK, we accept that and move on to another sign and see if we can debunk that also, it all adds to the data. And its by sharing and collecting it that the answers will come. If your looking for sign don't forget to look up and get down every now and again and look at the area from another angle or perspective, see what animals are using the area and birds too, this can give an indication of food sources and how bountiful the area is to the local wildlife.
If you find your area visit it over many months and watch for changes this could give an idea of who or what is using it at certain times of year, food sources come into play all throughout the year so some woods may be used only for a short time in a season and other constantly visited. Many of the other researchers will happily tell you that at first they too thought it would be impossible and yet many of them are now weeks and months into their research and findings, all across the UK.
If i or the team can help in anyway or if there is something you would like information on or just a general chit chat, just shout up we are always willing to help.