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Tips to Trail the Animals

Aug 17, 2007
When it is time to tracking or trailing the animal, sometimes it is not as easy as we read from the detective story. Find out some tips to recognize the tracks when you go for hunting.

You may not always be lucky enough to find traces or tracks immediately. Often you will have to be content just to recognize a set of prints, as sportsmen call the imprint of all four feet of an animal. A set of prints calls for careful interpretation.

Only occasionally do you have such a clear footprint in front of you that from the single impression you can tell with certainty what animal made it. When you are interpreting tracks, first take in the whole picture, looking at them in their entirety, before concentrating on the details. The tracks or traces animals make clearly show how they walk. Some small game animals, such as foxes and wildcats, are able, because of their size, to place one paw directly in front of the next, as if they were walking along a tightrope. Others, the big game animals, set their feet next to each other. These hoofed animals walk as if straddling a straight line, leaving what are called cross traces.

You will find such prints when the animal was moving along at an easy, comfortable pace. If the animal was running away or jumping, you'll find sets of prints at intervals. In the case of stags, the prints may be 25 feet apart. The prints of hoofed big game animals resemble the prints a rabbit makes. From the type of traces or tracks you find, you can determine whether you are dealing with a big or small game animal, and whether the animal was springing or just walking along easily. The length of the jumps or the side-to-side distance between hoof prints will tell you something about the size of the animal. The bigger, taller and older an animal is, the greater the distance from side to side (the cross trace). In general female animals have a smaller cross trace.

Animals Footprints
You are not likely to come across the footprints of whole hoofed animals wild horses for example. The cloven hoofed animals leave prints of their two toed hoofs.

Small game animals, such as badgers, rabbits and squirrels, have paws. They walk on the soles of their feet as well as on their toes, and often leave clear imprints of the entire sole and toes. When you find paw prints, look first to see if the animal has "toenails," that is, whether there are prints of its nails. Badgers and porcupines press their claws into the ground as they walk, but cats and lynxes do not.

Of the big game animals, the deer leaves the smallest tracks. If it is walking undisturbed and easily, the two toes of the hoofs leave a closed imprint. If it is fleeing and jumping (up to 15 feet), it leaves a "rabbit jump" set of prints. The toes are pressed apart by the force of the jump and imprinted more deeply in the ground than usual. In fact, you will usually find an impression of the dew-claws, the "extra" toes or "false hoofs" higher up on the feet.

Suppose you find "rabbit-jump" prints. From the size of the set of prints, you can eliminate certain animals, but you might narrow your "suspects" to a fox, a deer, or even a rabbit. If the two front footprints are larger, then it was a rabbit. But if all four prints are equally large, you have to search further. Perhaps you can find a print that is clearly impressed. If you see two toes of a hoof, it was a deer. If you see a paw print, you have to conclude that it was a fox or a rabbit.

The problem of finding the tracks or trail will be solved if you can find a stretch with either straight line or straddling prints. If that is not possible, examine the individual prints. From this article we learnt that the paws of rabbits and foxes are so different, that it should be impossible to confuse them.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.best-scopes-n-binoculars.com/, http://www.guidestocamping.info/ , http://www.goodbudgetholiday.info/
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