A Tracker's



Trailing Wildlife available for purchase here

Trailing Wildlife
by Nate Harvey

Trailing Wildlife describes 125 exercises, which are divided into three sections: Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced.  The Trailing section of this website is intended as an Introduction to Trailing Wildlife so that students can get a sense of the curriculum, its practices and the skills it means to developFor more specifics, please see the Curriculum Overview here.

Required References for Trailing Wildlife

All students of Trailing Wildlife should have this book:

Practical Tracking
by Louis Liebenberg, Adriaan Louw &
Mark Elbroch

Priceless tips and great stories from Master Trackers in South Africa and North America.

North American students should have this book:

Peterson Reference Guides
Behavior of North American Mammals
by Mark Elbroch and Kurt Rinehart

Daily activity patterns, seasonal activity patterns, breeding behavior, inter- and intra-species interactions; chock-a-block with useful info.

North American students should have one of the next two:

Mammal Tracks & Sign
A Guide to North American Species
by Mark Elbroch

The gold standard of field guides.


Alternatively, students in the Pacific Northwest can use:

Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest
by David

Comprehensive treatment of mammal spoor as well as common tracks and sign of birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.

The following guide is quite handy because it puts a lot of essential information in one place.  You may, however, find similar information online.  Either way, the book covers a topic you must know:

Peterson Field Guides
Venomous Animals & Poisonous Plants
by Steven Foster/Roger Caras

Very handy reference to help recognize trouble before it happens.

Online resources:

CyberTracker evaluations are unparalleled as field trainings.  For more information about them, please visit Services.  Or go to trackercertification.com, where you also can find a calendar of events and contact information for CyberTracker evaluators.

David Moskowitz and Jonah Evans both have excellent websites for learning about tracking.  Jonah's app, iTrack Wildlife, is a field guide for a smart phone.  It is clearly organized and has a key to help you identify tracks in the field.  Very highly recommended.

Preston Taylor and Matt Nelson run Marble Mountain Adventures in Northern California.  They are among the very best at trailing and are also specialists in Track & Sign ID.  They run programs relating to trailing, hunting and viewing wildlife.  I encourage you most strongly to get to anything they offer.  Top-notch.

iNaturalist.org is a website where people post observations of things they see in the field.  Others add identifications, agreement, comments on those observations.  Sometimes, world class experts join conversations to help with identifications.  It is a fantastic peer-to-peer mentoring resource and a great way to participate in citizen science efforts.  It also has a very robust database where you can search for observations relating to a particular species; this way, you can see pictures of how tracks look in the field when they're not as clear as the author of a field guide would need them to be.  Jonah Evans has a clear description here of how to join the site.

For those interested in locating a tracking school, Jonah comes through once again here.

There are many forums for trackers on Facebook, including "Seeing the Animal", which is specifically for students of trailing.  The conversations there can be very instructive.  You'll have to request to join these groups.  It can also be a great way to locate trackers in your area.  And of course, you can always start a group there.

Other Excellent Guides About Animal Spoor

Bird Tracks & Sign
by Mark Elbroch

Tracks, droppings, pellets, feeding sign, kills sites, feathers, skulls.

Peterson Field Guides
Animal Tracks
by Olaus J. Murie and Mark Elbroch

The original guide to tracks, updated.

Animal Skulls
A Guide to North American Species

by Mark Elbroch

On the bookshelf in the curator's office at the natural history museum.  No less useful to the naturalist who wants to identify the little skull in the owl pellet.

Mammals of Southern Africa and their
Tracks & Sign

by Lee Gutteridge and Louis Liebenberg

Acclaimed reference to spoor of Southern Africa.


Tracks & Sign of Insects
by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney

Well organized, very detailed, loaded with pictures, by guys who love all things Bug.

California Natural History Guides
Field Guide to
Animal Tracks and Scat of California
by Mark Elbroch, Michael Kresky and Jonah Evans

With tidbits about tracks and scat not found elsewhere.


Bird Feathers
A Guide to North American Species

by S. David Scott and Casey McFarland

Clearly articulated descriptions of bird families' different styles of flight and how those are reflected in feathers and anatomy.

Peterson Field Guides
Eastern Birds' Nests
Western Birds' Nests
by Hal H. Harrison


© Nate Harvey, 2015