Tips for snow tracking
Think about snow tracking could seem easy, after all it's not a hard task to follow footprints on fresh snow but snow tracking is much more than just follow footprints!
In fact, experienced hunters can have lot of information when tracking on the snow. Like in a white canvas, animals leave a lot of information in snow and if you know how to read it, there will be a full history behind every single sign on the snow.
Let's leave apart footprints, that's obvious but not so as it will shown later, but before, do you know that's possible to identify bedding areas on the snow?
While sleeping, animals' body heat melts snow underneath leaving a particular shape and pattern on the snow that will be seen clearly later by the experienced eye; moreover once the animal leaves the bedding area, if temperature drops enough that pattern will last for long, sometimes until it's covered by fresh snow.
Identifying a bedding area is a big deal because you will find a game sooner or later; furthermore, the melting pattern may give you a lot of information about animal size, specie and even number, so keep eyes wide open to find such a treasure.
Another good sign to identify games activities on an area is to look for yellow snow.
Yellow snow is due to the mix of urine and snow, so depending of how much yellow snow you find it will be possible to guess the species; something you may confirm by the smell if you are experienced enough.
While fresher the urine the smell will be more penetrating, so if you find intense smell yellow snow remember to see over your shoulder, perhaps the animal you are looking for is still watching you!
Yellow snow is quite usual because most of mammals, especially males tend to mark their territory; so finding yellow snow tells you a lot about animals population on a particular area.
And animals have to eat too; so look for feces and depositions. If you are tracking on mud terrain or regular soil such task would be demanding because there's no contrast between stools and background color, however in snow things are a lot different because of contrast.
Finding stools on the snow tells you a lot about which game you will find around. Use a couple of wood sticks to see what's inside the stools. Vegetal matters talks about herbivores while bones and hair points towards carnivores; meanwhile mixed remains are typical from omnivores like bears.
Stools content as well the amount and temperature give hunters a lot of information about potential games in the area. Once again, if you find fresh, warm stools watch up over your shoulder, otherwise you could find suddenly a big animal face to face.
Another good sign are prey remains. When there's not snow most of predators hide their food on the bushes making hard to find feeding areas, but when there's snow, following a blood trail towards an animal remains is more than easy, especially considering there's not too much vegetation and the corpse will be seen against a white background.
Last but no least: footprints. That's the most obvious sign, but do you know how much information may footprints give to you?
Aside from size and pattern, both features giving information about species, size and even number, footprints tells hunter a lot.
The first thing is orientation. Footprints give you an idea about where animals are headed or coming from, that way it will be easier to find a trail in order to stalk a game later.
On the other hand footprints disposition tells you a lot. Footprints along a straight line tells about travelling animals, thus you will have to hike a lot before finding your game, especially if you find old tracks.
Instead a zig-zag patterns tells about an animal looking for food, if so probably it won't be too far, particularly if footprints are fresh, so get ready to take action because something could show unexpectedly.
It's clear that snow tracking is more than just follow footprints, instead is the art of information gathering from a rich canvas telling a complete history of which animals live in an area, what they eat, where they rest and how they move.
Hunters capable to read such information will have better success possibilities than those who don't.