Animal and Man Tracking Camps and Courses

by Mark on November 9, 2010

The art of animal and man tracking in the simplest of terms is acknowledging and following a disturbance of interest (What we call sign) on the landscape.

A tracker is someone able to glean specific information from a track, sign, or disturbance registered by animal or man on the landscape.

For instance, a raccoon registers its prints in the soft sand along the shore of a lake; what is the Raccoon up to?  A freshly browsed shrub with shiny clipped stems, may tell us how recently a deer has fed.

Practical tracking has many uses, from discovering what animals visit your yard, wildlife observation, hunting, military, law enforcement, and search and rescue applications.

Developing the skills of a tracker will open a completely new exciting world to you!

Partial Racoon Track in Sand

Partial Racoon Track in sand on Lakeshore

A tracker discerns important information from disturbances such as these and is able to gather new insights about the animal as he goes along with the ability to follow the sign across all surface types.

For instance, what kind of animal made the track, and when?  Moreover, what direction is it going?  These are just a few of the questions in the mind of a Tracker.

Tracking is not just following footprints in the sand; it includes all landscapes and substrates as well.

Cougar marking on alder.

The seeing tracker reaches deep into the past, present and future of a landscape, always looking for subtle and not so subtle indicators of what happened here?  Who, where, when, why, and what direction is it heading?  For instance in animal tracking a sign disturbance is one left on the bole of a tree as claw marks.  Alternatively, following a game trail you may discover up-turned twigs, a tuft of hair, or perhaps even freshly made creases in a leaf, all translates into sign.  It is all-important information valuable to a tracker who is following these sign indicators of an animal’s passage.

Sign is a disturbance created by the passage of ‘something’ on the landscape. Grass pushed down due to the passage of an animal is sign, as well as disturbed foliage or torn earth.  On the other hand, it could be something as natural as scat!  For those of you who are not familiar with this term it refers to the droppings of an animal.  Shat for Man, scat for animals.

Scat is an important indicator for a tracker.  Scat is a window of time for the tracker.  Scat deposits allow for specie identification, diet, and time.  The science of scat is referred to as Scatology, a fascinating world indeed!

Application of Sign Tracking

Sign tracking can tell you what animals are in an area.  How long ago and how many, how large, where they have been and where are they going.  Tracking is a skill that can be applied in all outdoor situations.  You may even find you might have to backtrack yourself if you become lost or turned around and confused by the landscape.  This happens to the best folks!  Tracking also greatly improves our awareness of the world around us and greatly intensifies enormously our experience in nature.

Tracking is a very important tool for SAR (Search and Rescue) and law enforcement agencies.  More and more of these agencies are discovering the value of tracking. The FBI Hostage Rescue Teams, as well as other covert and not so covert military operations worldwide have skilled Trackers.

Our animal tracking program is designed to instruct each student in the basic mechanic’s of tracking by sign.  As a rule of tracking, the percentage of finding a partial track is much higher than a complete and perfect print.  Locating easily identifiable prints, you would need to look in areas that have soft substrate such as sand, mud, or clay.  The beach is an excellent place to find good animal prints!

These areas are great for tracking, unfortunately animals move in and out of these substrates and into ground that is much more difficult to read.  Correctly identifying and aging a particular print especially a partial on grass, pine needles, or leaves, a Tracker must draw on all of his skill in order to solve the puzzle.
Sign Tracking uses many and varied indicators of the landscape to assist in the educated assessment of the most promising facts that lead to the conclusion of the sacred question(s).  What made this print?  How long ago?  What was it doing?  Where did it come from and where is it going?
Depending on the courses, you take with us, you will learn:

  • Identifying Animal Tracks and Gaits
  • Tracking Sign Indicators
  • The Science and Terminology of Tracking
  • Measuring Tracks
  • Ageing Tracks
  • Preserving Track and Scat Specimens
  • Track by Sign
  • Using the Senses of Touch and Smell
  • Night Tracking
  • SAR ~ Man Tracking Techniques
  • Military and law Enforcement Applications
  • Escape and Evasion
  • Counter ~ Tracking Measures

Begin your introduction to animal Tracking in First Circle Camp. This standard survival camp is where we start your hunting and animal tracking and nature awareness skills.  Or you may consider – A Scouts Path. Created and designed to take the student beyond the basic techniques of survival, tracking, and awareness, and into the unique skill set of the ancient Apache scout.

Survival Courses – Oregon. One and two day seasonal Animal and Man tracking courses on the Oregon Dunes at Oregon Camp on the coast.

Why not take all three personally empowering Lifesong wilderness adventures, the only survival school that that gives you – THE EDGE.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel December 17, 2010 at 5:44 am

great post, thanks for sharing

ron snyder December 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

will there be any other animal tracking courses besides january 2014? Do you do private sessions? Thanks

Mark December 29, 2013 at 7:37 am

Dear Ron,

Yes, you can book a private animal tracking session with me. I’ll contact you with an email and we can discuss your availability.
We offer custom camps and courses you can view what we offer at the Custom Camps page link.
Thank you for your interest Ron.

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