A Tracker's


Introductory Exercise 5:

Direction of Travel

The purpose of this exercise is to describe those features of unclear tracks that make you think the animal was moving in a particular direction.

If you find tracks that show claw marks or points of hooves, indicating to you a clear direction of travel, then please follow them to a place where the tracks are not so clear.  Those are the tracks we’re interested in today.  When you look at those not-so-clear tracks, what are the features that tell you the direction the animal was moving?  If you find a trail that is simply a string of compression shapes and you can’t tell who made them or even whether they were made by a hard-footed or a soft-footed animal, how might you discern the direction of travel?

Consider that a track can be more than just the print left by the foot on the ground.  Depending on how the animal was moving, a track can influence the soil all around the foot’s imprint, pushing it up, leaving cracks and fissures, throwing soil.  All of that is part of “the track”.  Consider all the available evidence.

Also, if you have a string of tracks, stand and look at the line of them as far as you can see the tracks.  It might be helpful to put a popsicle stick next to each track if that will help you to see them from a distance.  Then, walk to the other end of the line of tracks, turn around and look at the same tracks from the other direction.  Is it easier to see the string of tracks in one of the directions than the other?  If so, what is it about the tracks that makes them easier to see?

Please describe in today’s journal the features you see in tracks that seem to indicate direction of travel.  Please don’t forget to pencil on your map the hazards from a couple exercises ago.  Consistency makes for good habits.

© Nate Harvey, 2015