As a deer hunter, I tend to pay attention to tracks in the snow. Trails left behind by animals can tell you a story if you choose to interpret them. Hunters and non-hunters alike can enjoy identifying and following tracks in the snow.
It's no secret that hunters and trappers use footprints in the snow to get a better idea of what local animal populations are up to. Tracking is likely minutes older than hunting in that an animal must first be found before it can be hunted. Our ancestors were likely driven by the signs left behind in the snow. Native people are known to have tracked animals in nearly any condition. With the addition of snow, the task was likely reduced to child’s play, for such skilled trackers. There is much you can learn from a set of tracks. Following them will take you on an adventure that could end up paying off for the hunter, trapper, animal lover, and photographer.
Most animals can be easily identified by the tracks they leave behind. There are many reference guides online and in printed versions that will aid you in the process. I found it exciting, as a child, to look at a book and figure out what animal had left behind the sign I was seeing. It was a practice I would learn to embrace throughout my life. As I age, my interpretation of the track has become the goal, rather than its identification. Once you know a track, it's on to making sense of it. Is the animal simply transitioning from one place to another, heading back to its den or bed, searching for food or running from another animal? This can all be seen and identified through nothing more than tracks.