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Reading Animal Tracks and Game Trails

  Animal tracks and game trails can give you information about your surroundings, offer opportunities for food, to locate water and be on the look out for predators that could harm you. If you are in remote wilderness, game trails can make travel easier as long as the trail isn't frequented by predators.

Note the common predator and dangerous animal tracks below.

 

Predator Tracks

  The tracks here are as they would appear on a game trail, if the soil is hard or rocky the tracks may not be discernable, but the trail may be discernable by broken grass and weeds or a worn foot path.. Take special note of places in the trail where any track or tracks are seen and try to distinguish the animal who made it. The Dog track will hold true for Wolves and other similar predators. The Mountain Lion and Big Cat track will also describe a Lion print. The size of the animal can be determined by the distance of the stride and the depth of the depression made may give clues as to it's weight. The number of tracks may represent a group of animals or a single animal who uses the trail ever day and perhaps more.

 

Other Tracks

  When many animals may use the same game trail, these often lead to water or grazing areas. Noting the direction of travel can lead you to these areas as well (be alert for predators around scarce water). Finding horse or cattle( cattle prints are similar to sheep print only larger) trails can lead to civilization. Combining this information with observation of bird movement and by listening closely to the sounds of animals in the morning and evening may aid you to find water in very dry areas.

  Animal tracks can also warn you if your on a predators hunting trail such as a Lion, Wolves or if Alligators, Bears or other large and dangerous animals are in the area. When walking a game trail select one where dear, sheep and the like frequent, not one where Lions, Bears, Wolves or other predator prints are seen.

By looking closely at the print you may note that the dust or dirt around  the print is very disturbed and "fresh" as in the illustration of the Deer print above or it may appear washed out or old. This indicates how recent the tracks are.  If the tracks are large and deep, look closely at the length of the stride (the distance between prints of the right or left) this will indicate the size of the animal. If a predators prints appear over a small animals prints and follow those prints, the predator may be stalking a meal.

 

 


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