Animal tracking in the simplest of terms is acknowledging and following a disturbance of interest on the landscape.
Animal tracking is where a tracker is 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, and hunting.
Developing the skills of a tracker will open a completely new exciting world to you!
A tracker is discerning
A tracker discerns important information from tracks. By careful observation, he is able to gather insights about an animal as he follows the the animals sign.
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.
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, a sign is left on the bole of a tree as claw marks. Alternatively, following a game trail you may discover upturned twigs, a tuft of hair, or perhaps even freshly made creases in a leaf. These are all marking of an animal passage and all translate into what we call sign.
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 general tracking term naming a disturbance created by the passage of ‘something’ on the landscape.
As an example, grass pushed down due to the passage of a deer, as well as other 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.
Scat is an important indicator for a tracker allowing for species identification often based on diet.
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.
Tracking is a tool used by 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.
Where to find tracks
Our animal tracking program instructs each student in the basics of tracking. The percentage of finding a partial track is higher than a complete and perfect track. Locating easily identifiable tracks, look in areas that have a 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 onto ground that is much more difficult to read.
Identifying animal tracks
Correctly identifying and aging a particular print especially on grass, pine needles, or leaves, a Tracker must draw on all of their skill to solve the puzzle.
Sign Tracking uses many and varied indicators of the landscape to aid in this educated assessment. Such as how long ago was the print made?
What was the animal 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