Tracking is a learned skill. It takes years of practice, but a few tips should get you up and going. My youngest son is better than I am. I taught him everything I know, but he puts it into practice almost daily. I only play at it a few times a year.
1) Get out and just watch animals. All animals have different habits and patterns. Some go by sight, others by hearing, and others by smell. Usually, it's a combination of the three.
2) If at all possible, get to know your area first. Look for trails and paths which are frequently used by the animals. This will give you early clues to which direction they may have taken.
3) Get to know what different animal prints, hair, and poop looks like.
4) Learn to estimate time passage. A fresh track will have no leaves or twigs on top of it. A very fresh track (in mud) will have no water in it. A fresh pile of poop will be soft. A very fresh pile of poop will be warm.
5) Move (fairly) slowly and deliberately. If the animal flees from you, you will probably never get close to it (except maybe rabbits and birds). If you make noise, you will be heard. If you flail around, you will be seen. If you break a sweat, you will be smelled (smelt?).
6) Continually scan your surroundings. Look for lines and colours which look out of place.
7) Listen. Everytime you stop walking, listen for at least 30 seconds (or up to 4 or 5 minutes). Animals make noises too, so use this to your favour. I even listen for animals which I am not tracking. Sometimes a deer will spook a turkey, or a turkey will annoy a squirrel (seriously).
8) Pay attention to the wind. If at all possible (sometimes it's not an option), try to track them while they are up-wind.
These are just some of the basics. There are plenty of exceptions to most of these rules too. But in general, if you start this way, and learn as you go, you'll have a pretty good chance at getting up close and personal with your prey.
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If possible can you add some more tips...please
Ok, here a few more.
-When there is frost or dew, the animal will leave a fairly clear path.
-When there is snow (or mud), the animal will leave a very clear path.
-The depth of a print (in mud) can often give you a hint at the animals weight.
-Check barb-wire fences and thorn patches for bits of hair.
-A green LED light is handy for tracking blood in the dark.
-Look for steam from animals breath. The animal may be hidden, but the steam may still rise into your view if weather and wind are paerfect.
-Watch for moving shadows. You'd be surprised how often this is effective.
-The best place to learn to recognize different tracks, is at a stream or small pond. They leave prints in mud that are often visible for days or weeks. If you stake out the pond, just watch the animals. When they are gone, closely study their prints.
-For a week or two before an actual hunt, if possible, stay away from your hunting area. Any disturbance (or smell) you create, can make an animal (depending on the species) more cautious for quite some time.
-Try not to use the "bathroom" near the place you intend to hunt. The animals try to steer clear of human scents.
-Learn to walk as "sofly" as possible. Stable rocks, soft dirt (not mud), fresh grass, and moss are the quietest places to step. Dry leaves, loose rocks, and thorn bushes are the loudest.
-Learn to use animal calls. Depending on your calling ability (and the species), you may not always be able to call the animals to you, but you can frequently get them to call back (giving away their approximate location) or to move (making them more visible).
-Hope this helps!!
thanks, great help.
I'll try to post some later tonight. I'm a bit distracted right now, but I'm always happy to share what I know.
Thanks for the tips
you should write a book. lol (only joking)
Thanks. I probably could write a book on the subject, with a little help from some of the "grandfatherly" old men I know. Sadly though, these days few people care to learn that sort of stuff.
. What kinds of animals? Terrain? Day/night?
small things eg. small deer etc.
open land (fields) and forest/woodland
. If no one comes up with an answer (I don't know, I was just anticipating questions someone who does know would ask), try a deer hunting site or a wildlife photography site.
Go to this link.http://www.trackerschool.com/about_tracker_school.asp