This post contains affiliate links.
Animal tracking is like a real-life game of hide and seek, but with a much bigger prize at the end.
As a hunter, there’s nothing quite like the rush of finding that elusive game you’ve been tracking for hours, or even days.
But tracking isn’t just about the thrill of the hunt – it’s also a crucial skill for any serious hunter. Whether you’re tracking deer, elk, bear, or even small game like rabbits or squirrel hunting, being able to read and follow animal signs can mean the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty-handed.
Plus, there’s something undeniably satisfying about being able to outsmart a wild animal on their own turf.
- Animal Tracking
- Understand the Animal’s Behavior and Habitat
- Look for Tracks and Other Signs of the Animal’s Presence
- Use the Right Tools and Techniques for Tracking
- Pay Attention to the Weather and Other Environmental Factors
- Practice Patience and Persistence
- Understanding Animal Behavior
- Reading Signs
- Animal Tracking Equipment and Tools
- Tactics for Different Types of Game
- Tracking Deer
- Tracking Moose
- Bear Tracking
- Elk Tracking
- Animal Tracking: Turkey
- Tracking Quail
- Animal Tracking: Rabbit
- Animal Tracking: Final Thoughts
Animal tracking is a crucial skill for any hunter, but it can be challenging to learn.
Whether you’re a beginner about to learn how to hunt or an experienced hunter, there are some best practices you can follow to increase your chances of success.
In this guide, we’ll explore the art of animal tracking and provide tips to help you become a more skilled hunter.
Understand the Animal’s Behavior and Habitat
Before you start animal tracking, it’s important to understand their behavior and habitat.
Different animals have different habits and preferences when it comes to food, water, and shelter.
For example, deer tend to prefer areas with dense cover and nearby water sources, while elk are more likely to be found in open meadows and higher elevations.
By studying the animal’s behavior and habitat, you can increase your chances of finding them and making a successful hunt.
Look for Tracks and Other Signs of the Animal’s Presence
One of the most important aspects of animal tracking is being able to identify and interpret their tracks and other signs of their presence.
This includes looking for footprints, droppings, rubs, scrapes, and other markings that indicate the animal has been in the area.
It’s important to learn how to distinguish between different types of tracks and signs, as well as how to determine the age and direction of the tracks.
This information can help you follow the animal’s trail and increase your chances of a successful hunt.
Use the Right Tools and Techniques for Tracking
Animal tracking requires the use of specific tools and techniques to be successful.
One of the most important tools is a good pair of binoculars, which can help you spot tracks and other signs from a distance.
You should also invest in a good tracking book or guide to help you identify different types of tracks and signs.
Additionally, it’s important to learn how to move quietly and stealthily through the woods, as loud noises and sudden movements can scare off large and small game animals.
Practice your tracking skills regularly to improve your technique and increase your chances of a successful hunt.
Pay Attention to the Weather and Other Environmental Factors
When animal tracking, it’s important to pay attention to the weather and other environmental factors that can affect their behavior.
Animals may be more active during cooler temperatures or after a rainstorm. Wind direction can also play a role in how they move and where they may be located.
Additionally, pay attention to the time of day and season, as they may have different patterns and habits depending on these factors.
By taking these environmental factors into account, you can increase your chances of tracking and successfully hunting game animals.
Practice Patience and Persistence
Animal tracking requires patience and persistence. It’s important to take your time and move slowly, paying close attention to any signs of activity such as tracks, droppings, or broken branches.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find anything right away – it may take several hours or even days to track down your prey.
Stay focused and keep your senses sharp, and eventually your persistence will pay off.
Remember, animal tracking is a skill that takes time and practice to master, so don’t give up!
Understanding Animal Behavior
Before you can track game effectively, it’s important to have a good understanding of their behavior. This includes everything from knowing where they like to feed and bed down, to their movements during different times of the day and year.
By learning about the behavior of your prey, you can anticipate their movements and position yourself for a better shot.
Get this book to study up on animal movement patterns, feeding habits, and territorial behavior.
Reading signs is a crucial part of tracking game. This includes everything from tracks and droppings to scratches on trees and broken twigs.
By learning how to read these signs, you can follow a trail and gain valuable information about the animal tracking.
As you’re out in the field or woods animal tracking, use their signs such as tracks and droppings to follow their trail. Watch for other signs to interpret, hair, rubs marks, game trails etc… Everything comes into play in the wild.
Animal Tracking Equipment and Tools
Having the right equipment and tools is essential for successful tracking. This section will cover the essential gear that every hunter should have, including binoculars, a compass, a GPS, and a tracking device.
Animal tracking can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it requires a certain set of equipment and tools to do it effectively. Here is a comprehensive list of equipment and tools necessary for animal tracking:
- Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars is essential for spotting game from a distance.
- Camera: A camera with a zoom lens is great for taking photos of tracks and other signs of activity.
- GPS device: A GPS device can help you keep track of your location and navigate through the wilderness.
- Compass: A compass is an essential tool for navigating in the wilderness, especially if you are animal tracking in remote areas.
- Maps: Topographic maps can help you find your way around and identify areas where they are likely to be found.
- Tracking notebook: A tracking book is a great way to keep track of your observations and learn more about the game you are tracking.
- Measuring tape: A measuring tape can help you measure tracks and other signs of activity.
- Knife: A good knife can be used for a variety of tasks, including cutting branches to clear your path or sharpening sticks for tracking.
- First aid kit: A first aid kit is important to have on hand in case of injuries or emergencies.
- Water bottle: Staying hydrated is important when spending time in the wilderness, so make sure to bring a water bottle.
- Snacks: Bring snacks to keep your energy up during long tracking sessions.
- Weather-appropriate clothing: Depending on the season and climate, you may need different types of clothing to stay comfortable and safe while tracking.
- Footwear: Proper footwear is crucial for comfort and safety while tracking, so invest in a good pair of hiking boots or trail shoes.
- Headlamp or flashlight: If you plan to track in low-light conditions, a headlamp or flashlight is essential.
By having the right equipment and tools, you can increase your chances of spotting and animal tracking in the wilderness. However, it’s important to remember that animal tracking requires patience, practice, and a keen eye for detail.
Tactics for Different Types of Game
Tracking different types of game requires different tactics and techniques. In this section, we’ll explore the strategies and techniques necessary for hunting different types of game, from small game like rabbits and squirrels to larger game like deer and elk. We’ll cover topics such as stalking techniques, calling techniques, and hunting in different types of terrain.
For small game hunting, stalking is a popular technique used to approach quietly and get within range.
Since small game have a much smaller range than larger game, it is essential to move slowly and cautiously to avoid detection.
Calling is also an effective technique for hunting small game.
This involves using a call to mimic the sounds of an animal in distress or the calls of a potential mate to attract animals within range.
Different types of calls can be used depending on the game being hunted. For example, a rabbit distress call can be used for rabbits, while a squirrel bark call can be used for squirrels.
For larger game like moose and deer, stalking may still be effective, but the distance between the hunter and the animal may be greater.
It’s important to use natural cover, such as trees or rocks, to approach slowly and quietly.
Calling can also be effective for larger game, but it typically involves mimicking the sounds of the animal being hunted, such as a deer grunt or an elk bugle, to attract them within range.
Hunting in different types of terrain also requires different tactics. In wooded areas, stalking and still-hunting techniques are often used, while in more open terrain, glassing and long-range shooting techniques may be more effective.
Understanding the terrain and the habits of your prey in the area is essential for successful hunting.
Overall, racking different types of game requires different techniques and strategies.
Stalking and calling are effective techniques for small game hunting, while stalking and natural cover are effective for larger game.
It’s important to understand the terrain and the habits of the animals being hunted to use the most effective techniques for a successful hunt.
To track deer, you need to have a good understanding of their behavior and habitat. Deer tend to stay in areas with food, water, and cover, so it’s important to look for signs of these things when tracking them.
Scouting deer before you go on your hunt is important. Scout the area and look for signs of deer, such as tracks, droppings, and rubs. Pay attention to the terrain and any changes in elevation, as deer often move through areas that provide them with cover.
One of the best ways to track a deer is by following its signs, this is called sign tracking. Look for tracks and droppings, and try to determine the direction the deer is moving in. You can also look for rubs on trees, which are caused by deer rubbing their antlers on the bark.
Deer have a keen sense of smell, so it’s important to control your scent when tracking them. Use scent-blocking sprays and try to hunt with the wind in your favor.
Moose are large and elusive animals that can be found in dense forests and wetlands. They are herbivores and feed on a variety of plants, including willow and aquatic vegetation.
Moose hunting can is one of the most prized hunting experiences among hunters. When tracking moose, you need to look for their tracks, scat, and browse lines on trees.
Moose tracks are larger than deer tracks, and their scat is more substantial. Moose are solitary animals and tend to travel alone, so it’s important to be patient when tracking them.
Calling techniques can also be useful when hunting moose, as it can attract bulls during the mating season. Find calls here.
When stalking moose, it’s important to move slowly and quietly, using the surrounding terrain to your advantage.
While bear hunting can be fun, it’s more challenging if you don’t track their movements and become familiar with their routines before going out to hunt.
Tracking bears requires a lot of patience and experience. Bears can be found in dense forests and open meadows, and their tracks are quite distinctive.
When tracking bears, you need to look for their tracks, scat, and scratch marks on trees. Bears are omnivorous and feed on a variety of food sources, including berries, insects, and small mammals. They tend to follow established trails and will often return to feeding sites.
Calling techniques are also useful when hunting bears, as it can attract them to your location. When stalking bears, it’s important to move slowly and quietly, using the surrounding terrain to your advantage.
It’s also important to be prepared for a close encounter, as bears can be dangerous if surprised or cornered.
Elk hunting is fun and these animals are massive. Being so, they require a different approach when tracking. These animals are found in dense forests and mountainous terrain.
Tracking elk requires a lot of patience and persistence. To track elk, you need to look for their signs, such as tracks, scat, and rubs on trees. Elk tracks are larger than deer tracks, and their scat is more substantial.
When tracking elk, it’s important to understand their behavior, as they tend to travel in large herds during the summer and fall months.
Calling techniques are also crucial when elk hunting, as it can attract bulls during the mating season.
When stalking elk, it’s important to move slowly and quietly, using the surrounding terrain to your advantage.
Click here to learn everything your need to know about elk hunting.
Recommended: Elk Hunting: 7 States of Prime Hunting Locations
Animal Tracking: Turkey
Turkey hunting requires a different set of skills than deer hunting. Turkeys are known for their sharp eyesight and hearing, so you need to be stealthy and patient when tracking them. Here are some key skills to keep in mind when tracking turkey:
Just like with deer hunting, scouting is important for turkey hunting. Look for areas where turkeys are known to roost or feed, and pay attention to their habits and behavior.
One of the best ways to track a turkey is by listening for their calls. Turkeys are known for their distinctive gobbles and clucks, so listen for these sounds and try to locate the turkey.
Turkeys have excellent eyesight, so it’s important to blend in with your surroundings. Wear camouflage clothing that matches the terrain you’re hunting in, and use a turkey blind for extra concealment.
Tracking quail requires a different set of skills and techniques compared to tracking larger game. Quail are great game birds to hunt, they’re small and a challenge if you don’t begin your season with a little tracking to get an advantage.
Hunting small game like quail is fun and entertaining for all skill levels. Quail are small birds and are typically hunted in open fields or agricultural land.
When tracking quail, you need to look for their tracks, scat, and feathers.
Quail tracks are small and round, and their scat is similar in size to a peppercorn.
Quail are social birds and often travel in coveys, so it’s important to locate the group before making your approach.
Calling techniques are also useful when hunting quail, as it can attract birds to your location. When stalking quail, it’s important to move slowly and quietly, using the surrounding terrain to your advantage.
It’s also important to be prepared for quick shots, as quail tend to flush quickly when disturbed.
Animal Tracking: Rabbit
Rabbit hunting is a popular activity for both seasoned and novice hunters. Rabbits are small and quick, so animal tracking them requires a different set of skills than tracking larger game. Here are some key skills to keep in mind when tracking rabbit:
Before you set out to hunt rabbit, scout the area for signs of activity. Look for areas with thick cover, such as brush piles or tall grass.
Look for rabbit tracks and droppings, as well as any areas where they have been feeding. Follow the tracks and try to determine the direction the rabbit is moving in.
Rabbits have excellent hearing, so it’s important to approach them quietly. Move slowly and avoid making noise, as even the slightest sound can scare off a rabbit.
Animal Tracking: Final Thoughts
Animal tracking is an essential skill for any hunter that wants to have a successful hunting trip. And mastering game tracking requires a range of skills and knowledge.
By understanding how animal tracking works, animal behavior, reading signs, having the right equipment and tools, and using the right tactics, you can increase your chances of a successful hunt.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hunter, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to animal tracking.
With practice and patience, you can become a skilled tracker and enjoy the thrill of the hunt even more. I do highly recommend this book to get you started in the right direction.
So get out there, hone your skills, and have fun!
FREE Hunting Checklist when you join our email list!