One of the elements in My Horse Sprenkil is Kathi discovering woodland nature, specifically identifying animal tracks. I could have picked any number of woodland aspects to include, so why critter tracks?
It goes back to 2010, when my family moved to a rural, wooded, and mountainous area. I knew very little about tracks, but I quickly realized that it would be advantageous for me to educate myself (and my little ones).
During the snow-fallen winters, it was grand fun following the rabbit and deer tracks around the yard with the kids. I secretly giggled every time a skittering of mouse prints darted across my path, and the dog took particular interest in the coyote trails, which remained long after their midnight chorus ceased.
When 4 sets of bear tracks appeared at the top of our long driveway, recognizing tracks became less about entertainment and more about awareness.
When the cougar tracks appeared 10 feet from the house, awareness took over completely for a while.
One time I went for a walk with the faithful dog and discovered a track I’d never seen before. It was a very distinct, “Wait, what’s that?” moment. It turned out to belong to an elk, and in the 4 years we lived there, that was the only evidence of them I ever saw.
Learning about animal tracks resulted in a much greater awareness of my surroundings, and having that now allows me to see all kinds of things I would otherwise have missed.
Do you have a tracking story? I’d love to hear about it!
If you are interested in learning more about tracking, here are a couple resources I’ve compiled:
Beartracker.com–General information, detailed drawings and photos of animal prints common to North America (fairly extensive list), lots of links and informative information on all of tracking.
WildwoodTracking.com–General information, photos of animal prints common North American, search and rescue tracking, tactical tracking.
Animal Tracks Match-Up Game Printable (free download)
Animal Tracks ID Cards (free download)
Animal Tracks Coloring Page (free download)
Animal Tracks ABC Flashcards (buy the printable or ready-made)