Footprints or Tracks

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.