Spotting and understanding deer tracks is a very important skill, and in this article, we will give you all the information you need to learn how to recognize tracks and their age, as well as how to trail wounded game. Once you’re ready to go out in the field, check it out here to see if you have all the equipment, you need for a successful hunting expedition.
Tracking the deer
For most hunters, trails, bedding, scrapes, and rubs are the most common indicators that deer leave behind, and these are the things that they pay attention to when looking for deer signals. The most essential hints, on the other hand, are frequently overlooked. It is critical to examine deer footprints with a keen sense of observation.
While the art of tracking may not be for everyone due to the fact that it is not the most thrilling pastime, you’ll be shocked at how much information can be gained about the game you’re monitoring if you know how to look at its tracks. So that you can get a better grasp of deer tracks, we’ll start with the fundamentals of recognizing and identifying them.
The first step is to grasp the difference between a little deer and a larger deer since this will allow you to make a more informed decision about which game is worth your time and which game is not. Smaller deer should be avoided at all costs. The shape of the deer’s trace makes it quite straightforward to determine the size of the deer in question.
Big deer tracks are distinctive because the animal weighs more than 200 pounds and the weight of the animal causes the hooves on its front feet to splay apart. By placing your fingers near the track, you may determine the size of the deer; if it measures four fingers or more, it indicates that the deer will weigh more than 200 pounds.
When the deer’s hoof stamp is deep enough, it makes an impression on its body, which makes the deer heavier and larger. There are, of course, certain variables, as the type of soil has a significant impact on the outcome. It is more likely that the depression will be deeper in loose, light sand than it will be in solid, firm soil.
When looking for hood tracks, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the space between them as well, because even little deer can leave traces with their hooves spread apart when they’re fleeing. Take note of how widely apart the steps are; if the stride is long, it indicates that the game was most likely in progress at the time.
It’s not always clear whether you’re looking at a running track or a walking track while you’re outside. It is possible to pick up on certain tiny hints, however they are difficult to detect. Running tracks frequently have debris thrown in front of them as a result of the impact of the horse’s hoof with the surface. They also have a tendency to slide forward somewhat, which increases the length and splay of the body.
Tracks can also be utilized to gain a better understanding of the local deer population in the area where you want to hunt by comparing them to previous tracks. When looking for hunting locations, it is a good idea to look for deer tracks on the ground because they can provide information on how many individual deer have been lingering around and how big they are.
It is also a good idea to pay attention to the direction of the track since some deer foot will point outward, while others will go straight ahead, and yet others will point inward. It is also common for the right and left hoof to not match up with one other, so you should study them both.
It is also noticeable that the front tracks are much larger than the back tracks. Because the front end of a mature deer is heavier than the rear end, the front tracks dip deeper and splay more.
Once you’ve discovered a track, you should try to figure out how the game will behave on it as well. By observing the surrounding surroundings and looking for other tracks, you can determine whether it was feeding, following another doe, or just resting.
For beginners, it is a good idea to visit fields within a day or two of a good rain so that you may observe the marks in the soil and learn more about them. Spend as much time as you need staring at them and even taking pictures if you want to document your experience. If possible, visit the site on a daily basis to observe how the tracks evolve over time.
Photographs can be quite valuable because they can be used to compare and contrast the traces you’ll locate on your next hunting journey.
How to tell the age of the tracks
Knowing how to determine the age of a track is a highly valuable ability that can help you get closer to locating the ideal hunting location. A track’s age cannot be determined with certainty, especially because each one is unique in its own way. You may still gain a lot of information from a track if you have the patience to wait for it, and if you discover that it is only a few hours old, you may be able to follow it right into the deer’s resting area.
The first step that you must perform is to examine the definition of the track’s margins. This is the most important phase. If the mud is cut sharply, it indicates that the footprint is new, because weather and time will round the corners as the mud dries and falls, indicating that the footprint is old.
You should also pay attention to the intricacies, because the more you can pick up on, the more recent the track is. Pay attention to the thin lines around the edge of the pad and see if you can spot them. These are evident in newly printed prints, however older prints tend to fade over time as they age.
You should also keep an eye out for broken chunks of dirt and small mud balls that tend to break loose from the larger print that’s cutting through the earth. If these are still moist, it indicates that the track is still relatively new. Take into account the weather conditions as well as the track’s location and orientation.
A track that is located in the shade will retain its appearance for a longer period of time, whereas a track that is located in an open field will become sun-dried more quickly and appear older.
Apart from the tracks themselves, you should also look at the surrounding area because it can also help you determine the age of the tracks more accurately. The most important thing you can do is evaluate plants that have been scratched or bitten. Look for surrounding plants; if they have been recently chewed, they may still have wetness on them, so look for them.
On the other hand, leftovers from a previous dinner should begin to dry out and turn a little brown around the edges as time passes.
Buck vs. doe tracks
You must remember that a buck’s chest is broader and his rear is narrower in order to distinguish between them. The doe, on the other hand, has a slim chest and a somewhat wider rear, and this distinguishes their tracks enough that hunters can tell them differently with remarkable ease while tracking them down.
The doe’s track is more pointed, but the buck’s track is wider and more rounded. Furthermore, bucks have a swaggering walk that the does do not possess. Besides this, bucks have a tendency to drag their feet across the ground while they are moving, but does will lift up their feet when they are moving, leaving behind tracks that appear more organized.
Tracking a wounded deer
While it is critical to take reasonable and ethical shots, it is occasionally necessary to trail a wounded deer, especially for beginners who are not always accurate with their firearms and ammunition.
As soon as you’ve taken your shot, you’ll want to start keeping an eye out for deer. Look for the deer’s location when you shot it, as well as the direction it went in after you shot it. Make an effort to determine where the arrow struck the animal, since this will provide you with your first indicator of how well or badly the animal has been struck.
If you are hit in the leg and the hit is too high or too far back, you will have to wait at least another 3-4 hours before you can attempt to follow the animal down and out. A good shot in the broadside, where its vitals are located, means that following it should take no more than 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the situation. Continue to keep a close eye on the deer until it disappears from view.
A deer’s blood can also tell you how badly it was hit, and it is frequently the only thing that can lead you on the best trail to locating and recovering the animal. The presence of pink, frothy blood with little bubbles suggests that the shot has reached the lung, and such an injection will be deadly if it does.
It is possible that the blood is rich and bright-red because it came from the heart or any other large tissue area with numerous blood arteries – the more blood that you see, the more likely it is that the shot was a deadly one. It is possible that sparse droplets signal a non-lethal wound.
Blood that is dark and burgundy in color can indicate a blow to the kidneys or liver. These are also lethal, although they can take a longer time to dispatch the deer. A stomach shot results in blood that has a greenish hue; they are also lethal, but can take the longest to kill the deer because of the amount of blood lost.
Charles Reynolds is an engineer from New York University with a passion for fishing. His earliest memories of fishing go back to the days spent on the lake with his grandfather who taught him the sport. Reynolds spends a large part of his holidays fishing with his son and passing on the skills to the little one.