How to Track Man or Beast

Part of seeing is knowing what you might see and knowing where to see it. Part of seeing is being open to the unexpected and not trying too hard. If you try too hard, you’ll probably just end up seeing what you expect to see. If you are sure you won’t see anything, you won’t.

Part of seeing is understanding human and animal behaviour so you can find clues to where they are.

Each piece of the puzzle is called “sign” and once you know what it can tell you, you will see it in footprints and vegetation disturbances with great interest.

Tracking is also known as “sign cutting”.

Sign that is on the ground, like a footprint, paw print, or hoof print, is called ground sign.

Sign above the ground, such as knee level or waist level, like bent over tall grass or disturbed cobwebs at face level, or even hair or fur caught in branches, is called “top sign”.

Make a list of things that can be taken, changed, or left by prey in a nature setting, then categorize them into groupings such as “impressions” (tracks, body impressions on the ground), “transfers”, (mud to rock, sand to pavement, water to dirt), “damage” (nibbled branches, bruised vegetation, broken cobwebs, scratches in bark, charred earth), “disturbances” (indentations from rocks or branches kicked out of place, paths made in the grass, earth or rocks disturbed from someone climbing, slipping, or falling), “things left behind” (hair, fabric, faeces, garbage).

Another way to think of sign is to call it evidence.

You are looking for things that have been moved, changed, or left by prey.

Look up close.

“Shine” is a shiny appearance to some tracks that can only be seen from some distance back, and when you are up close or directly over it, it cannot be seen. This effect will be particularly apparent in shoes with a very light tread.

Look mid-range. Here, you are not looking for detail, but tracks in general, shine, or silver paths through a field.

Use arc vision, looking at one slice of an arc at a time to determine possible paths and eliminate dead ends where there are no tracks.

When you find a track, look for the “trail”, or a series of tracks or sign from your prey. If you find a conclusive trail, select a landmark such as a tree near it so you can go faster up to that location and start again.

Don’t forget to use your other senses.
For a detailed course on Tracking, see this 3-part video series on YouTube:

Can't wait for the next video? Don’t want commercials? Buy the course now for CAN$19.99. Get your training in Tracking from home. Everything that is taught as if you were there!

This course:
Business inquiries: