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Indentifying Animal Tracks (Unsuccessfully)

Indentifying Animal Tracks (Unsuccessfully)
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As a person who loves the outdoors, I’ve always admired people who are astute observers of the natural world. I am not one of them, not even close. Try as a might, I am no Goodall or Thoreau. I am impressed with myself if I can figure out the difference between a pine tree or a maple. Tree and plant identification, bird watching and animal tracking all fall within that same category of requiring a necessary skill I lack. I think it’s called detailed memory recall.

Nonetheless, I decided to take some pictures of animal tracks on a recent cross-country ski jaunt, with the goal to match those pictures to the animal track guide on page 83 in Yankee Magazine’s January/February issue. I thought this would be a simple game for me, one that might also be perfect for a very young child.

Even before I made it too far into my journey, I realized I had a tip for people endeavoring to do this sort of thing based on my own first error. Tip Number One: Make sure your camera batteries work. Yes, this is the most basic rule for any true photographer, but I am a hack. I checked my batteries before I left. I even had extra batteries in the camera case. The little red light indicating low batteries was flashing when I double-checked their status. Did I change the batteries? No. Did I bring the camera case with the extra batteries? No. I just headed off into the woods with my camera and one set of dead batteries. La, la, la.

Thanks to my sub par cell phone camera, I was able to snap some shots of animal prints in the snow despite my dead camera situation. The results of which, I share with you now, so you can play a fun game with me called “Name Those Tracks.” (You can even cheat. I’ll tell you why later.)


Species 1: Animal Tracks

Species 2 (which could be the same as Species 1): Animal Tracks

Species 3: Animal Tracks


Species 4: Animal Tracks


I know what Species 3 and 4 are, but I am still a little unclear about Species 1 and 2. My guess is a cute little white-footed mouse for Species 1 and a snowshoe hare for Species 2, but I would not be surprised if one is a gray squirrel or a chipmunk. That’s why I gave you permission to cheat by looking at the animal tracks guide on page 83. I cannot even figure out my own game with cheating. You know what? There are no wrong answers for this quiz. You get 100% for just playing along with this game.  A for effort.

Species 3 is a cross-country ski pole track, and Species 4 is a whole bunch of tracks (snowmobile tracks, cross-country ski tracks, lots of dog tracks) with a cameo appearance of a very cute dog who made 5 times the amount of tracks I made during my journey because he was running around in circles while I was skiing in a straight path.

I am sure you enjoyed this game. Check back soon for number two in this series: Identifying Animal Scat.


Heather Atwell


Heather Atwell


Communications manager Heather Atwell manages the magazine’s public relations efforts. She also writes the blog Outdoor Adventures for

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2 Responses to Indentifying Animal Tracks (Unsuccessfully)

  1. Brenda Darroch January 24, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Five times the amount of tracks = a very tired dog.

  2. Barb Foye February 5, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Species 2 – Gray Squirrel

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