Tracking

Tracking while outdoors is the science of observing animal’s tracks and any other signs, with the objective to gain some understanding of the animal being tracked as well as the landscape they inhabit. Trackers, hunters and outdoorsmen need to be able to recognise, interpret and follow animals through tracks, signs and trails. All of these can include scat, feathers, kills, sounds, scents, marking posts, habitat cues and any other traces that could help identify where your quarry is. Tracking while outdoors is the science of observing animal’s tracks and any other signs, with the objective to gain some understanding of the animal being tracked as well as the landscape they inhabit. Trackers, hunters and outdoorsmen need to be able to recognise, interpret and follow animals through tracks, signs and trails. All of these can include scat, feathers, kills, sounds, scents, marking posts, habitat cues and any other traces that could help identify where your quarry is.

It is best to look for tracks in the early morning or late afternoon, so that you can use the angle of the sun, which can make the tracks more visible.

Tips to identify tracks:

• Look at the size of the track.

• The shape of the track.

• The number of toes in the track.

• Identify whether there are nails or claws in the track.

• Compare the front and back feet of the track.

 

What is the track telling you?

• In which direction was the animal moving in?

• Was the animal moving as part of a herd?

• Is the animal running or walking?

• Are there any other signs along the animal’s path?

When tracking an animal, don’t just look down and on the ground; look in all directions so that you do not miss anything. Look for things that might look out of place or that might catch your eye. These clues could be a bigger sign of your animal.

While you are tracking, look at the scat. This could give you a greater clue of the animal. It might be fresh, meaning they were just there. Look for hair and fur caught in the thorn trees. Some animals love to roll around in the dirt and mud, as this helps to keep insects at bay. Keep eyes open for such areas as they might give you more information about your animal.

Once you know what to look for during tracking, you would be able to tell what animal it is, and whether they were nearby. This takes a lot of practice and helps you to observe the world around you.

No matter what your reason is for being outdoors, you can always look for some animal signs and tracks and learn something new.