Why the Interest in Tracking?
I think I first became interested in tracks when as a small child my grandfather taught me how to mimic rabbit footprints in the snow. From that day forward I have always been on the lookout for tracks of all sorts. One print in the soft dirt, snow or sand makes me stop and study it. What was here? Where did it go? Example: What type of drama do you think played out in the desert photo to the right?
I take walks outside as often as I can, not only for the exercise, but also to immerse myself in nature. I begin by walking briskly for aerobics (the exercise portion), then once I have that out of the way I go ‘off trail’ so I can concentrate on nature. I often have a canvas bag over my shoulder to pick up small pieces of wood for campfires (where this is allowed). I also like to gather different materials for tinder bundles. I take them home and experiment with which ones are the easiest to use to start a fire (without matches) by catching sparks from a ferrocerium (ferro) rod. During my walks I often see tracks along the way. It’s fun to try and figure out who left behind their ‘mark’ and see if I can follow their trail.
Not everyone who tracks animals carries a hunting rifle. My professional photographer friends have to be able to track and understand the creature they are hunting in order to get the photo they crave. In the case of big game, they have to be able to do that without getting attacked or killed in the process. I track because I want to get to “know” the creature I am trailing. I have friends who hunt to feed their family, and they don’t bring home more than they can consume. If I had to hunt to survive, I would. And hopefully my tracking skills would serve me well.
Books About Tracking
At my recent book signing for PURSUIT: A Fox Walker Novel, a fellow writer gifted me with a super cool book about Tracking, which made me realize I should share some of my favorite reference books with all of you.
Below is the book I received and already love (Thank You, Gray Michaels), plus other books that are also a part of my reference library.
Techniques from international tracking experts applicable to any quarry and terrain.
How to follow and find elk, deer, bears, cougars, lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and cape buffalo.
Finding and identifying tracks and sign of an animal’s passing is only part of the ultimate goal for serious trackers, hunters, and outdoorspeople. They want to follow the trail to reach the animal in question.
This detailed guide teaches them how. Written by a trio of master trackers, it covers what to look for to discern an animal’s pathway, what information tracks and sign convey, how to move through the wilderness to get in sight of the quarry, how to avoid dangerous encounters, and more.
The SAS Guide to Tracking
Anyone who has spent even a little time outdoors has come across strange tracks left by animals or people and wondered “what was here?” In this practical guide, former-SAS member Bob Carss shows how to track any moving thing, in any environment, and under nearly any circumstance. He begins by explaining common terms, such as a “top sign”, markings left above ankle height; “pointers”, signs that tell the general direction of the quarry; and a “conclusive sign,” markings that confirm the quarry’s presence. The difference between tracks left by quarry and false tracks are described, as well as how a pattern of signs builds into the tracking picture – the overall movement, direction, and motivation of the quarry.
Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking
Utilizing the ancient lore of Native Americans, Tom Brown passes on a timeless tradition that connects humankind to Earth. This unique volume teaches us the basics of sight, smell, and taste; it shows us how to become one with nature, and how to receive all the signs and signals of the multitude of living creatures with whom we share the beauty and bounty of the wilderness.
* How to restore to our senses all the amazing powers stolen away by civilization
* How to move as silently as the Native American scouts
* How to spot and identify the tracks of a vast variety of animals
* How to find humans lost in the wilderness
I hope you found something here that interested you. Happy Tracking!