Our human ancestors started eating meat about 2.5 million years ago. When humans added meat to their diet the result was the human brain size grew in size and became more complex. How did early humans find meat to eat? The correlation between tracking animals and meat is the answer. When early humans started to eat meat on a regular basis the need to track animals was created.
Why do we care about tracking today? Our ability to recognize patterns helps us to recognize tracks. If we know what animals are around it can help with wildlife observation, hunting, and photography. It is better to track with other people; that way healthy conversations can be had about what happened. If you cannot track with other people create a journal and answer the following questions.
-Who do you think left this track?
-What was the animal doing?
-Where did you find the track?
-When was the track left?
-Why did the animal choose this path?
Where should you look for tracks? Finding good substrate when beginning your tracking journal is the way to go. Look for muddy areas in parks, stream and river banks, and in wetlands. Silt sandbars along or in a river can be a good place to look as well. Tracking under bridges is also helpful because the tracks are preserved!
When creating a tracking journal, draw the track with measurements. Draw the gait (track pattern) the animal left. Create a master list of what animals are within the right size of the tack you found.
Look at features of the track.
How many toes can you see?
What shape is the back (metacarpal) pad?
Are nails showing in the track?
This is a tracking journal laid out to follow. It is not necessary to use this exact template but it is a good starting point. Mapping the area is important, if you track at the same place often it can help you identify animal movement patterns.