Last winter I found a lot of animal tracks, and everyone seemed to enjoy that a lot. I thought that Maggie and I could get us started for this season of looking for footprints with a little primer of some basic info. Maggie made the prints; I'll do the talking.
The picture above shows two prints. I left the really good one for you to see, and placed a red outline of what to look for in a canine print on the other one. So for any dog-type animal you will be looking for a roughly triangular pad, four toes that fit above the pad to form a tight oval, and toenail marks that show.
The picture below is the best print I took on Saturday. Now you can test yourself to see if you can find all those key elements of a dog print.
Now we will add more snow. It changes things a lot! The pictures below were taken this morning. The first thing you might notice is that the print is not nearly so clear. That makes identifying tracks in fluffy or deep snow, or very soft mud, more difficult. So, can you still see those key elements in the first picture?
It's a really good print for this snow depth, but even so you probably could see the pad and the toes, but not the nail marks. And that brings us to the last picture.
This print isn't nearly as good, but you can see the nail marks. The lesson here is that when the tracks aren't perfect (they rarely are), you need to look at them collectively. Study a group of prints and try to construct that perfect print in your mind. Then when you see all the elements, you will know what animal has passed this way.
We'll talk about patterns and other kinds of spoor another day.
P.S. I'm not an expert in this, but I'm getting better, and it's fun to have friends who like to come along.
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