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Footprints or Tracks

Category: Ii Woodcraft

In trailing animals look for footprints in soft earth, sand, or snow.
The hind foot of the muskrat will leave a print in the mud like that of
a little hand, and with it will be the fore-foot print, showing but four
short fingers, and generally the streaks where the hard tail drags
behind. Fig. 4 shows what these look like. If you are familiar with the
dog track you will know something about the footprints of the fox, wolf,
and coyote, for they are much alike. Fig. 9 gives a clean track of the
fox, but often there is the imprint of hairs between and around the
toes. A wolf track is larger and is like Fig. 8. The footprint of a deer
shows the cloven hoof, with a difference between the buck's and the
doe's. The doe's toes are pointed and, when not spread, the track is
almost heart-shaped (Fig. 7), while the buck has blunter, more rounded
toes, like Fig. 10. The two round lobes are at the back of the foot,
the other end points in the direction the deer has taken. Sometimes you
will find deer tracks with the toes spread wide apart. That means the
animal has been running. All animals' toes spread more or less when they
run. A bear track is like Fig. 11, but a large bear often leaves other
evidences of his presence than his footprints. He will frequently turn a
big log over or tear one open in his search for ants. He will stand on
his hind legs and gnaw a hole in a dead tree or tall stump, and a
bee-tree will bear the marks of his climbing on its trunk. It is
interesting to find a tree with the scars of bruin's feet, made
prominent by small knobs where his claws have sunk into the bark. Each
scar swells and stands out like one of his toes. When you see bark
scraped off the trees some distance from the ground, you may be sure
that a horned animal has passed that way. Where the trees are not far
apart a wide-horned animal, like the bull moose, scrapes the bark with
his antlers as he passes.

The cat-like lynx leaves a cat-like track (Fig. 6), which shows no print
of the claws, and the mink's track is like Fig. 2. Rabbits' tracks are
two large oblongs, then two almost round marks. The oblongs are the
print of the large hind feet, which, with the peculiar gait of the
rabbit, always come first. The large, hind-feet tracks point the
direction the animal has taken. Fig. 1 is the track of the caribou, and
shows the print of the dew-claws, which are the two little toes up high
at the back of the foot. It is when the earth is soft and the foot sinks
in deeply that the dew-claws leave a print, or perhaps when the foot
spreads wide in running.

Fig. 3 is the print of the foot of a red squirrel. Fig. 5 is the
fisher's track, and Fig. 12 is that of a sheep. Pig tracks are much like
those of sheep, but wider. When you have learned to recognize the
varying freshness of tracks you will know how far ahead the animal
probably is. Other tracks you will learn as you become more familiar
with the animals, and you will also be able to identify the tracks of
the wild birds.

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Previous: Lost in the Woods

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