Wilderness tracking: 3 things that show what's stalking you

August 13, 2019

Let me give you a scenario. You and your family are on a wilderness adventure in the area immediately around Yellowstone National Park. You are in the middle of the third night of the trip and at around three-thirty in the morning, you awake to hear shuffling and sniffing outside the military surplus army tent that you have pitched to enjoy your trip in. Being the typical red blooded man, you arm yourself, get a light and look outside the tent to see what kind of furry beast is out there. However... this hairy beast is so much more in tune with it's environment than you are that it smelled the change in your sleep pattern and, deciding that it no longer had the advantage, bounded silently off into the darkness.

What do you do? Good luck going back to sleep in that scenario. If you're anything like most people you will lie awake the entire night, imagining every type of bloodthirsty sasquatch that you can. You'll likely even come up with something in your imagination that EATS sasquatches. But... what if it were nothing more than a baby muskrat, lost on it's way to the beaver pond? Wouldn't it be a shame to lose sleep over a baby muskrat, especially one that is lost?

Well, the answer is to learn just a little bit about tracking so that you can know what exactly has become interested in you. Let's face it, in nature there is usury. Every living creature uses other living creatures for it's own edification. Out there you are simply another living creature and whether you will be used or a user is entirely up to you.

I can teach you enough in three lessons to get you through. First off let's just say that you should let your hand guide you. Before we get into the three lessons, look at your hand. See how big it is? If whatever track you see is that big or bigger, go ahead and worry. Otherwise, read on...

1.An egg shaped track which has two inner toes larger than the two outer toes, and there are claw marks present. This is a coyote track. Generally you have nothing to worry about from a coyote, or even from a pack of coyotes unless it is a very harsh winter. They have a tendency to avoid humans.

2.Ann egg shape track where the two inner toes are smaller than the two outer toes, and there are claw marks present. This is a dog of some sort, or could be a wolf. These are more dangerous, especially if you are dealing with a pack of feral dogs who have no fear of humans.

3.A track that is circular in shape and there are no claw marks present. This is a cat of some sort... let the size of the print reflect the level of concern you show to it's presence.

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