One of the most fun things to do when hiking with the geeklings is to search for and identify animal tracks. Not only is it sometimes a puzzle that requires some creative problem solving, it also fires the imagination as we try to determine what the creature was doing, what it was eating, or where it was going. Real tracking! The best part is that you can do this anywhere: in the woods, at the beach, or in your local park or backyard.
There are some good online resources for learning tracking skills. 42Xplore, an general education link site, offers a good list of sites to get you started. Beartracker’s Animal Tracks Den is a good one. Funschool also has a cute matching game that teaches track identification. But you can’t lug a computer on a hike now, can you?
My grandfather was a big acquirer of the old Time-Life books on the outdoors. Many of these books would come with little freebies. One of them was the Pocket Field Guide to Animal Tracks. A small booklet published in 1958 by Stackpole Books, who are still in the business of publishing books on just about every aspect of the outdoors. I snagged my yellowed copy from grandpa early on and learned pretty much everything from that.
As summer winds down, the woodland creatures begin their fall rituals and become a bit more active as they prepare for winter. It’s a good time to venture out and discover what animals populate your local haunts.