Be able to identify parts of a human foot print.

Be able to observe foot prints on different surfaces and be able to explain what had caused these foot prints/ the story behind it.

Have knowledge of tracking

Tracking is an element of scouting that encompasses observation, stalking and the following of a trail. Unlike the form of tracking employed in hunting, tracking within the Scouting movement tends to focus on the tracking of people as well as animals. One form of training includes the laying a trail or following a trail laid by others. A trail is made up of a series of signs, largely comprising directions, which are laid on the ground.

Tracking has been part of scouting and guiding since the beginning; it was the subject of several of Baden-Powell's campfire yarns. In the eleventh he wrote that "One of the most important things that a Scout has to learn... is to let nothing escape his attention". He suggested several methods of learning observational skills, such as Kim's Game and other memory games. Following this, in yarn twelve, he wrote about spooring, relating to the tracking of people and animals. Scouts were encouraged to identify the difference between the tracks of different animals, as well as determining the age of the tracks and the pace of movement. It was in the thirteenth yarn that Baden-Powell introduced sign based tracking, where scouts were encouraged to deduce the location of a person or animal by following signs. The purpose of training scouts in tracking skills was to encourage observation and to make it possible for them to stalk animals for observation, or hunting as food.

Basic Tracking signs by here

pageWoodcraft Signs

Often enough, it’s easy to categorize animal tracks within their species. Cats. Canines (this includes bears). Ungulates (hooved animals, such as deer, moose or elk). Rodents. Birds. Insects. All might represent food or danger or information about the environment.

For example, snow melts throughout the day in the sunshine. If you find a large footprint, the animal might be much smaller than the track indicates, due to the snow melting and expanding.

This, of course, requires understanding of when a track was made. There are several indicators to look for:

  • Does the track seem to have been melted by the sun?

  • Are there any leaves or debris inside the track?

  • If it’s in mud, is the mud dry and hard?

  • What signs of the animal exist by the track, such as leaves that might have been nibbled of?

A single animal track tells a partial story. In the area around the track might be all kinds of accomplice signs for completing the story.

Identifying Tracks

Once you learn that, for example, cat’s claws are retractable, it will be easier to figure out if the print is a cougar or a wolf. Canine claws always stick out and therefore almost always leave a mark in the mud, sand or snow.

Very simple differences make it easy to identify an animal within a given species. Moose hoofprints are heart shaped. Elks almost always leave behind markings from their “dew claws.” Deer hoofprints are much smaller and shaped like an arrowhead. When it comes to canines, it can be tough to tell the difference between a wolf and a domestic dog, so you have to take the whole picture into account.

Become a wilderness detective and answer some questions: Are you anywhere near human settlement? When you step back and look at the line of tracks (several tracks leading somewhere), are they in a determined straight line or are they meandering all over the place? Wolves don’t have time to frolic, so they tend to walk straight to where they’re headed, maybe leaving a mark here and there by urinating on a stump or bush. Dogs lollygag all over the place, so large meandering tracks are more likely a big dog than a wolf.

One of my favorite tricks with animal tracks is figuring out how big their maker is. It’s really quite simple and often very accurate. Try to find all four paws showing clearly as tracks on the ground. Take your hands and put them beside the first and third tracks. Now, assuming you know what kind of animal it is, trace an imaginary line in the air to indicate how big you think the canine or cat might be based on the first and third paw placements. Simply outline the shape of the animal. Try it at home with your dog and your cat.

Measuring a Track

You need to measure the length and width of all four tracks (2 in humans). When measuring animal tracks the length readings between tracks are measured from toe to toe because animals hit first with their toes. In humans it is measured from heel to heel because we land heel first.

  1. Establish the Line of Travel- This can be done by eye if the tracks are clear or by placing popsicle sticks at the heel of the tracks and connecting a string to the sticks.

  2. Length of Track - measure the length of the true track.

  3. Width - measure the widest part of the track.

  4. Stride - is measured from the heel of one foot to the heel of the other foot (i.e. right heel line to left heel line).

  5. Straddle - if you draw a line of travel between the left heels and a line of travel between the right heels the distance between these two lines is the straddle. There is zero straddle and positive straddle.

  6. Pitch - is the degree to which the foot angles out from the line of travel (pitched out). At the widest point of the track, draw a line bisecting the track along its long axis. The distance from where the line exits the front of the foot to the heel line is the overall pitch.

A complete guide to animal tracking

Make a mold of Animal Track with Plaster of Paris

You can make your own mold with plaster of paris

Things you need:

  • Plaster of Paris : accordingly to the size of the track. (Can be found in Hardware stores :Buy loose)

  • A cardboard strip according to the size of the track (height must be at least 2 inches)

  • A bit of salt (For quickening the moldering process)

  • Water


  1. Add Salt to the water

  2. Cover the animal track

  3. Refer the below mentioned image

  4. Add salt water to the plaster of paris container and mix well (Make sure you get no air bubbles)

  5. Pour the mixture to the animal track

  6. Leave it for 15-30 minutes and get the mold out

  7. Wash it to get rid of the dirt

Here is a demonstration how you can cast an animal track with the aforementioned steps

Last updated