Tips for Seeing Tracks
One important thing to remember when following tracks is to keep the print between you and the sun. This way, the light casts shadows in the print and makes it stand out from the surrounding soil. You can use a mirror to reflect light into a track so you can see its details better. A flashlight also works well in low light conditions. You can even track at night using a flashlight!
The idea of tracking an animal is to follow the trail to learn as much as you can from it. Itís best to stay on the trail and try your best to find every print at first. This is how you learn to see the more difficult tracks. If you force yourself to stay on the trail and find every print, youíll be surprised at how quickly your skill improves.
One useful aid to help you follow a difficult trail is a tracking stick. This is simply a stick about three feet long on which you have marked the measurement of the animalís stride. Stride is the distance from the heel of one print to the heel of the next. You can also mark the measurement of the print itself to be sure youíre following the right trail. You may want to use rubber bands as markers since they are easy to move. Or, you can carve a notch in the stick to mark the measurement. An old ski pole makes a good tracking stick, but in a pinch, you can usually find branches lying on the ground. To use the tracking stick, hold it at the point where the stride measurement is marked. Hold this over the heel of the last identifiable print. Now, sweep the point in an arc and look where it points for evidence of a track. Sometimes, you may have to look for very subtle clues, such as broken pine needles, bruised blades of grass, or overturned and dislodged pebbles. Look closely and you will see it.
Animals leave signs of their passage in addition to tracks. These include chewed or bruised vegetation, droppings, scratches in tree bark, hairs snagged on branches or in bark, rubbings on trees, gnawed bones, feathers, opened nuts, dens, burrows, and nests. You may also find well-worn trails and runways through the grass that many animals use regularly. These signs may not be obvious at first, but with practice, you will see them.
Where to find tracks
When youíre first beginning to learn tracking, the best place to start looking is in soft mud or wet sand near water. These soils hold tracks well and often yield clearly identifiable prints. This is the best way to learn what tracks look like in the field. As you gain skill, you will learn to identify tracks in other soil types. You will also learn to identify tracks that show just portions of prints rather than whole tracks. To challenge yourself, try following tracks in more difficult soils.
Find tracking posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, hats, and more in my new store.
Now available: "Animals Don't Cover
Their Tracks - An Introduction to Animal Tracking" on CD! (Version 3.0)
New drawings, more species, more photos, more extensive sections on tracking
humans, more detailed directions for plaster casting, mystery tracks section,
tracking stories section, and more. The CD features over 100 species, including
special bonus sections with the tracks of some African and Australian
animals. A large section on tracking lost people for search and rescue is
included, with over four pages of photos showing the details of tracks and
signs people leave. Easy to use format. This web site is limited
by bandwidth, but the CD-ROM is not. The CD is available in my online store at:
Works with Mac or PC. Happy tracking!!
What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!
|Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*|
|Also visit these fine
stores for more products of interest:
NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.
ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.
Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!
Got a tracking story? E-mail me and tell me about it.
Back to the Animal Tracks Den
Copyright © 1997-2007. Text and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera