Up next in Wilderness Survival Skills (40 videos)
Conquer the wilderness with the survival tips in these Howcast videos.
You Will Need
- Animal evidence
- Pen or pencil
- Tracking or field guide
- Popsicle sticks
- Stick or tweezers (optional)
- Latex gloves (optional)
Go where the wild things are -- landscapes with heavy brush for hiding and diverse vegetation for year-round food -- and search for physical evidence. In addition to footprints, look for droppings, worn ground, and signs of rubbing, gnawing, chewing, scratching, or disturbance to the ground.
Study the evidence closely. "Focus on droppings, or scat":http://www.howcast.com/videos/418186-How-to-Identify-Scat -- its color, consistency, and content can indicate what type of animal left it and how recently. Write information you find in a notebook and check the data against a field guide to determine the animal you're tracking.
Classify the track
Study footprints to help identify the animal you're tracking. Note the number of toes on each foot, claw markings, and the general shape of the print. Look at the pattern to learn whether the creature moves by diagonal walk, bounding, galloping, or pacing.
Measure the track
Use a ruler to measure the length and width of print's flat part, known as the "true track." Then, find the distance from the heel of one paw's true track to the heel of the same paw's next print to calculate the stride. Examine the distance between the inside edge of each foot left to right for the straddle.
Follow the direction
Figure out where the animal is going. Place popsicle sticks at the heel of the tracks and tape string between them to establish the line of travel. Check if one front foot is behind the other over 4 to 5 tracks -- the lagging foot is dominant, indicating that an animal will often circle in that direction.
Play the end game
Track the animal patiently and quietly, and you'll soon catch up to your target!