Life on Earth

Tracking & the Art of Seeing

How to see

I’ve had meager success in tracking animals using other guide books. This one employs color photography which matches what I see on the trail much closer that black and white sketches. Also it emphasizes animal scat and browsing patterns. It includes primarily North American mammals.

— KK

Tracking & the Art of Seeing
Paul Rezendes
1999, 336 pages
Harper Perennial


Since white-tailed deer have only bottom incisors, they leave rough, torn, or squared-off cuts when browsing.


White-tailed deer beds may show a lot of detail. In this one, the impression of the deer’s rump is to the lower left, the hind leg is to the lower right, and the two folded front legs are to the upper right. You can determine the size of the deer by measuring the bed from the center of the lower folded front leg diagonally across to the rump. A large deer’s bed measures 41″, a small deer’s 25″.


The scat of snowshoe hares (left) and cottontails (right) is not always this dissimilar. Notice that one of the cottontail pellets looks exactly like those of the snowshoe hare. You cannot rely on scat to differentiate between most of the rabbit family members.


A comparison of cat and dog tracks highlights the asymmetrical shape of the cat’s track. The toes point in a different direction from the heel pad, and the two inner (front) toes have one slightly ahead of the other, as with the two outer toes. In contrast, the dog track is more symmetrical.


Red squirrels opened these hickory nuts, leaving large, jagged holes. When gray squirrels open hickory nuts, they chip away at them, creating a ragged appearance, and often break them into small fragments. Red squirrels and flying squirrels leave the shells more intact.


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