For some, it’s a hobby that creates great adventure. For others, it’s born out of a necessity for survival. It’s animal tracking. Learning how to find animals in the wild takes patience and time. You’ll get on the right track with these tips that can help you determine just how to find them
1. Observe everything, not just footprints
If you’re just starting out as a tracker, you might be tempted to merely follow animal prints across the dirt, sand or snow but you’re probably overlooking other distinctive signs that an animal is nearby, says Steve Engel of AnimalTracks-BySteve.com.
“Tracking is all about observation,” Engel says. “Observe everything and look for the reasons why things are as they are. Scat (droppings) are of particular significance because they can tell you where an animal was, often when it was there to great accuracy and what it has been eating. The animal has essentially gathered information about its diet from everywhere it roams and deposited it in a neat package for you to examine.”
2. Safety while tracking
As you observe your surroundings for signs of an animal, be sure to stay alert for any signs of danger, as well. “There are dangers in being outdoors,” Engel says. “The trackers should know what the potential dangers are wherever they go from the types and abundance of stinging and poisonous insects, to skunks, to large and potentially dangerous herbivores and carnivores, to the presence of cliffs or unstable ground in the environment.”For example, he suggests, noticing fresh tracks of a cow and calf moose, regardless of pattern, would be good reason to stop and take stock of the situation. “Getting off the trail may not be your best option perhaps backtracking would be better,” he says. “Standing very still and picking up what clues you can as to their whereabouts would be the best first thing to do; then base your next action on what information you can glean. The same would go for coming up on the tracks of an adult bear with cubs, especially in grizzly country.”
Don’t assume an animal is tame you may be on high alert for bears and mountain lions, but you are more likely to approach other animals, such as deer and moose. However, that may not be your best idea.
“Keep in mind there are more moose than bears to watch out for, and moose are as dangerous as bears, if not more dangerous, in a situation of protecting their young,” Engel adds. “I like the saying that good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.
3. When to follow, when to backtrack
Tracking an animal can allow you to follow it and get close, but backtracking where it has been can also be useful if you want to learn about its behavior rather than its reactions to being followed. “You will get to know its territory and get a sense of its personality,” Engel says. … Read the rest