063: Understanding The Basics of Animal Tracking

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Product Review

Waze Android App (available on iOS as well) 

  • Smartphone App that acts as a crowd sourced Navigation app with real time traffic and hazard information.
  • originally started by an Israeli company
    • sold to Google in 2014
  • function where it crowdsourced most of its updates.
  • It had problems with the map accuracy
    • corrected since Google bought it
  • Waze feels like a cartoon version of Google Maps.
    • updated map now
  • everything a Libertarian wants in a map app
  • interesting with the sounds and updates that it has
    • It has an almost “game-like” feel to it
  • Rack up on points based on your driving where you are ranked out of the people in your state. 

Examples of items you can report on the app are:

  • Police
  • Traffic Jams
  • Objects in the Road
  • Cars Stopped on the side of the road
  • Weather
  • Accidents 

Examples of information you get on the app:

  • Traffic
  • Other Users (by username, not real name)
  • Estimated Time of Arrival
  • Trip Length
  • Mileage
  • Speed by GPS
  • Anything that has been reported
  • Gas Prices near you

Topic: Tracking Animals

  • Most basic question in tracking: What Animal is it?
    • To successfully trap, you must learn to observe.
    • Next, you must make the correct deduction from observation.

BirdsTracking animals

  • Hopping on ground
    • Feet side by side
      • Meaning it is unaccustomed to the ground
    • It must feed in air or on shrubs/trees
    • If it is a fruit or blossom eater, it walks along branches
    • If it feeds on insects, it hops from branch to branch
    • Hopping birds should be insect eaters
      • Not always the case (think chickens and canaries)

Walking Birdstracking birds through feet

  • These birds walk
  • Some or all of their food is on the ground
  • It will feed on:
    • Grain
    • Fallen fruit
    • Ground living creatures
    • Flesh found on the ground
  • Lets look at these…
    • Grain and fruit eaters
    • walking birds
      • No center toe development (scratching and digging)
      • No rear claw development (flesh eaters)
      • A ground feeding insect eater
      • Center toe development with powerful claw
    • A ground feeding insect eater
      • Center toe development with powerful claw
    • Capture
    • Ground meat FeedersCapture
      • Talons
      • Short powerful toes
      • strong claws
        • especial hind toe
      • Hawks, eagles, crows
    • Web-footed Tracksweb footed tracks
      • Easy to identify
      • Basically just look at webbing and size
      • Ducks, swan, geese

Location Matters

  • Where you are, changes your answers
  • Swamps and marshes are different from forested land

Animal Tracks (usually mammals)


Prehensile digitsPrehensile digits

  • Single thumb
  • Double thumb
  • Helpful for climbing trees

Center Toes

  • Tracks with extremely prominent claws on center toes
  • Earth diggers or burrowers
  • Prehensile is undeveloped
  • On diggers, the claws are the mark, not if it is on front or back feet
  • Fore feet will usually show sharper more prominent claws
  • Have discussed climbers and diggers.

 Tracks with pronounced “toes”

  • Toes are used for:
    • Climbing
    • Digging (both have special development)
    • Springboarding when running
  • These are typically fast running animals
    • Not grazers which have hoofs (which are just toenails)


  • Different shapes and sizes
  • Cannot climb
  • Cannot dig
  • Only escape route is to run
  • Many animals with cloven hoofs are fast runners

Can’t Always Rely on Finding Tracks

  • Larger game (deer, elk, etc)
    • Deep tracks
    • May be covered with leaves from rain and wind
  • Smaller game (squirrels, rabbits)
    • May not leave tracks at all on dense leaves
      • See a rabbit, no tracks, but close by is feces and a small trail
  • You may find compressions though
    • These are shiny or dull spots depending on the grit of the surface
    • Need to be close to the ground and scan with bottom eye
    • These are part of the “other signs” of tracking 



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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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