In a world overwhelmed by technology, some ancient techniques may appear time-wasting and useless to some. Tracking and hunting small game may be one such technique, but it would be foolish to ignore the benefits of mastering such a skill.
The mere fact that we need to put ourselves to learning and mastering them could discourage those who believe blindly in technology. The people that think all the devices which fulfill all our daily needs are simple enough to gain any particular skill in a blink of an eye.
Personally speaking, I am not a technology aficionado. I just believe in the good, old ways. They actually worked for ages, and they can still come in handy when we run out of batteries when the WIFI connection is poor or.. simply when we forget our gadgets at home.
In recent years we witnessed a sudden birth of Schools and Associations which promote a true come-back-in-style of such skills. They teach friction fire, how to manufacture primitive weapons, how to set a shelter using only natural materials, land navigation, and even how tracking and hunting small game works.
Tracking animals for survival
Learning how to identify and come along animal tracks provides you several benefits in an SHTF scenario.
For example, discovering fresh animal tracks allows you to locate the proximity of a river to get water to filter and purify.
It is also coming to your aid when it becomes necessary to move your shelter from one spot to another, avoiding being in close contact with some predators’ areas.
Additionally, it is useful to know the habits of animals (bedding and feeding areas, for example) in order to understand the more suitable places where to set traps or start hunting them.
About animal tracking
To the neophytes, Animal Tracking consists of detecting, reading, and following animal tracks. It is pretty obvious how ancient this skill is if we think about primordial hunters.
Currently, this ability is mostly gained and applied in Wildlife Conservation, Antipoaching activities (as we will discover in an upcoming article) as well as in hunting.
Long-time hunters, in fact, have always relied on their ability to find and to follow tracks, with or without the aid of hound dogs. Being able to distinguish a species from another just by barely looking at tracks and, basically, knowing where to look for the animal is far from easy. This is not expertise that anyone can apprehend in one day or two.
As a matter of fact, it takes years to develop such skill even if your desire is to apply your knowledge only in a specific area, even if there are some essential elements in common.
The essential rules of Tracking small game
The starting point related to Animal Tracking is having a deep knowledge not only of the local fauna but also the flora. In fact, they are intrinsically related to the area you are in.
The “tools of the trade” are at anyone’s reach. They are actually pretty useful when you start to approach a spotted track.
- a measuring device, like a ruler
- a torch (mostly a hand torch) to enhance details of tracks, especially in shady areas or at night
- tweezers (in order to remove any debris on the tracks)
- notepad, pen, or pencil
Your expertise in animal tracking is determined by how many hours you spend in the field, tracking on different soils, through different vegetation, different weather conditions as well as different – personal – mental and physical conditions. Never underestimate all of these factors.
Being a good tracker requires a lot of patience, especially when you are tracking a small game. In the same measure, making mistakes is compulsory, as they lead to consistent growth.
Senses in Tracking
When we track, we use all our senses except for taste. Even if our eyesight has the biggest task, the sense of smelling and hearing are important just as important. You track by hearing, seeing, and smelling every detail around you.
Let’s consider the scenario in which you hear a sudden noise when exploring the great outdoors. Your immediate reaction is to put yourself in a vigilant state. Your brain starts to make deductions about the source and the author of the sound/noise. Animals do the very same, but their sense of hearing is sharper than ours.
Your nose now tries to detect a distinctive wild animal’s smell. It surely does not belong to any domestic dog: few steps in, and you run across into the droppings of a deer. Then you know if your deduction was right or your brain tricked you into believing you will run into a predator along your way.
Touch is another important sense. If you gently touch the soil following the transition of an animal track, you can discover a lot of things. The soil has been “altered” by its natural state, and that portion of ground is, for example, no more covered by debris (leaves, twigs, ..). The terrain will appear darker.
Variation of the natural state of the environment
The passage of different subjects (animals, humans, or even vehicles) can be easily assessed as a distinctive variation of the natural state of an environment. This happens to be a dogma in Animal and Mantracking and the key to success in our follow-up.
In such a way, tracks and signs can be considered and treated as disturbances – a common word inside the terminology of tracking.
The disturbances can present themselves in a wide range of forms, but you should never forget a crucial point: they depend on the terrain they have been left on.
A few examples:
- They can appear as compressions (on dry leaves).
- They can be flattening or bending (on a grass field).
- They can be seen as transfer (of material, such as mud, which has been remained kind of glued beneath hoofs and claws, for example).
- They can be pebbles or rocks dislodged.
- They can also be broken, torn off, or bent vegetation.
Last but not least, they can be droppings, or even hair, sweat, food remains, or blood.
Where to look for animal tracks
Track traps are areas in which it is most likely to spot tracks. These are mostly sandy, snowy, or muddy areas. Staying near river beds may be a valuable opportunity to reach your purpose in locating signs of animal activity.
It is not only important where to look but also how to look.
First of all, what we should do is to accurately look at the whole area, evaluating any alteration of the natural state (a broken twig, tracks compressed on the ground: anything that looks like “out of balance”).
Being methodic, inquisitive will pave the way to be a good tracker.
Keep in mind that while humans are moved by a specific purpose, animals behave by instinct. The direction of travel of animals follows specific smells and habits, and it may be extremely winding.
How to start
As mentioned before, experience is the main thing.
Let me underline that buying books on local fauna and watching videos on YouTube is certainly a starting point, but I stress out that tracks are in 3d! You need to pay extreme caution while in the great outdoors.
You simply need to gain much more experience on what is defined as “dirt time on the ground.” If possible, try to find the company of an experienced tracker who will correct your mistakes and help you to do better and grow in time.
You will be amazed by the successes you will achieve in a short time if you dedicate to Animal Tracking with humility and passion.
The second step, hunting, is surely based on the type of weapon you chose—no doubt this influences the proximity you need to gain with the animal you are tracking.
Man tracking paired with Animal Tracking when hunting
In an SHTF scenario, your tracking abilities may require a focus on human activity in order to understand if the area you selected as a bug-out place has been visited by outsiders.
This is why Mantracking can be successfully paired with Animal Tracking. Let me stress out that this is exactly what happened in primitive communities that were focused on protecting their borders from predators as well as from hostile tribes.
Subjecting yourself to this mental approach will determine a more effective application of your abilities when it comes
- to hunting
- to protect your bug out place
- to defend your family and resources
- to understand how to leave minimum signs of your passage in order not to give away your activities and position
Tracking small game is a matter of patience, dedication, and willingness to learn. As with any other skill you want to gain, you cannot jump out of bed one day and claim to be an expert tracker.
The presence of thousands of people all around the world who are truly devoted to Animal Tracking may help you to be paired with a professional located in your area and to start conquering the first, essential steps into this Art.
This article has been written by Kyt Lyn Walken for Prepper’s Will.
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