Finding and understanding deer tracks is an extremely important skill, and in this article, we will provide you with all of the information you need to know about recognizing tracks and their age, as well as how to trail wounded game, among other things. When you’re ready to head out into the field, take a look here to make sure you have everything you need to have a successful hunting expedition.
Tracking the Deer
For most hunters, trails, beds, scrapes, and rubs are the most common signs that deer leave behind, and these are the things that they pay attention to when looking for deer signs. The most important clues, on the other hand, are frequently overlooked. It is critical to examine deer tracks 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 exciting activity, you’ll be amazed at how much information can be gained about the game you’re tracking if you know how to look at its tracks. So that you can get a better understanding of deer tracks, we’ll start with the fundamentals of understanding and identifying them.
The first step is to understand the difference between a small deer and a larger deer because 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 track makes it very easy 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 can 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 mark is deep enough, it makes an impression on its body, which makes the deer heavier and larger. There are, of course, some 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, hard soil.
When looking for hood tracks, you’ll want to pay close attention to the distance between them as well, because even small deer can leave tracks with their hooves spread apart when they’re running. Take note of how far 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 when you’re outside. It is possible to pick up on some subtle hints, though 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 slightly, which increases the length and splay of the body.
Tracks can also be used to gain a better understanding of the local deer population in the area where you intend 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 hanging around and how big they are.
It is also a good idea to pay attention to the direction of the track because some deer feet will point outward, while others will point straight ahead, and still others will point inward. It is also common for the right and left hoof to not match up with each other, so you should study them both.
It is also noticeable that the front tracks are noticeably larger than the back tracks. Because the front end of a mature deer is heavier than the rear end, the front tracks sink 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 environment 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 can observe the marks in the soil and learn more about them. Spend as much time as you need looking 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 change over time.
Photographs can be extremely useful because they can be used to compare and contrast the tracks you’ll find on your next hunting expedition.
How to Tell the Age of the Tracks
Knowing how to determine the age of a track is a very valuable skill that can help you get closer to finding the ideal hunting location. A track’s age cannot be determined with certainty, especially because each one is unique in its own way. You can 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 bedding area.
The first step that you must take is to examine the definition of the track’s edges. This is the most important step. 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 details, because the more you can pick up on, the more recent the track is. Pay attention to the fine lines around the edge of the pad and see if you can spot them. These are visible in newly printed prints, whereas older prints tend to fade over time as they age.
You should also keep an eye out for broken pieces of dirt and small mud balls that tend to break free from the larger print that’s cutting through the soil. 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 environment because it can also help you determine the age of the tracks more accurately. The most important thing you can do is examine plants that have been scratched or chewed. Look for nearby plants; if they have been recently chewed, they may still have moisture on them, so look for them.
On the other hand, leftovers from a previous meal 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 larger and his rear is narrower in order to distinguish between them. The doe, on the other hand, has a narrow chest and a slightly larger rear, and this distinguishes their tracks enough that hunters can tell them apart with relative ease when tracking them down.
The doe’s track is more pointed, whereas the buck’s track is wider and more rounded. Furthermore, bucks have a swaggering gait that the does do not possess. Besides this, bucks have a tendency to drag their feet across the ground when they are moving, whereas does will pick up their feet when they are moving, leaving behind tracks that appear more ordered.
Following the trail of a wounded deer
While it is critical to take responsible and ethical shots, it is sometimes necessary to trail a wounded deer, especially for amateurs 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, as this will provide you with your first indication 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 track the animal down and out. A good hit in the broadside, where its vitals are located, means that tracking 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 will lead you on the best trail to locating and recovering the animal. The presence of pink, frothy blood with small bubbles indicates that the shot has reached the lung, and such a shot will be lethal 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 vessels – the more blood that you see, the more likely it is that the shot was a deadly one. It is possible that sparse droplets indicate a non-lethal wound.
Blood that is dark and burgundy in color can indicate a hit to the kidneys or liver. These are also lethal, but they can take a longer time to dispatch the deer. A stomach shot results in blood that has a greenish tint; these 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.