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At the trail vs On the trail

at the trail—(Military) carrying a rifle in the right hand, the arm at full length, and the gun horizontal:

  • The volunteers are in step, rifles are carried uniformly horizontal at the “trail.”

on the trail

1. following a path in a wild or uninhabited region:

  • In discrete valleys were a few cabins, and they stayed in them or siwashed (camped on the trail).

2. following traces or tracks in hunting:

  • Jacob’s dog leads them into the woods on the trail of a fox, and there they come upon the wreckage of a small plane.

3. following smb.; in pursuit of a person:

  • The police are on the trail of a group of Satanists, believed to have caused a young man’s death.