Game trails are already a common sight in the wild. However, many people are still bewildered what these are, what they look like, where they come from and what to do with them.
Game trail in a nutshell
Game trails are the paths or marks made by footprints of animals who have walked around or live in a particular area. These are made evident by footprints imprinted in the mud or the soil.
Often, aside from indicating where these animals have gone these game trails indicate which species live in that area.
These game trails also do not just come in one kind. Given that the wild is home to many terrain-waling animals, game trails will head off to a different direction, bearing different patterns and different sizes. Many game trails are made by the crunching of the hooves or paws of the animals against the ground.
The length by which a game trail stays depends on how thick the hooves or paws have dug and engraved them and how often the weather changes.
The more frequent weather changes are, and the more shallow the trails are, the more probable it is to fade. However, there are some reasons as to why and how some game trails stand the test of nature and time. More of this will be explained in the sections to follow.
Kinds of game trails
Most of the game trails you’ll find are ones made by herbivores rather than carnivores. This follows the concept that hooves and paws of these kinds of animals are slightly heavier than the others (carnivores tend to have lighter and softer hooves trails to make themselves better hidden from their target prey).
Therefore, with the weight of their hooves and paws, their trails tend to be bigger and hit the ground deeper and harder. Despite this general truth, there are still some exceptions.
Small herbivores such as squirrels and the like leave smaller and lighter trails which easily fade compared with those made by the bigger ones. Given these facts, game trails give you a hint of what kind of animals live within that area.
How and Where to spot a game trail
Game trails are often confused with human pathways. Despite the two functioning as indicators of creatures who trod a particular path, they still have distinct features. Firstly, one notable feature of a game trail is that it looks exactly similar to the surrounding ground.
Another way to differentiate a game trail from human pathways is to note the distances of each path. The farther the trails are from one another, the more probable it is that animals made that trail.
You can also use leaves as an indicator of whether a path is of an animal or a human. Once you see leaves seemingly stuck or embedded in the trail, then it is more probable that an animal made it.
Keep in mind that different game trails have different depths. It depends upon how long the game trails have been there and how the weather or climate in the area have changed.
These two climatic factors can affect the path left by animals, as it contributes to erosion. The more often these atmospheric conditions happen, the more likely the trails will be eroded as time passes by.
What to do with a game trail
For animals, these trails work as guides for themselves or the next generations. For as long as the trail remains and an animal follows it, then the game trail will continue and will lead to the same path as the previous game trails did. For some animals, these are their guides to their daily routines, even nightly routines.
As these lead to places where their particular needs are met, they use these to drive them to such sites even in the darkest hours of the evening. Once their hooves and paws feel the familiar curve or shape of the game trail, they know that they are following the right track and are heading where they want to go.
Aside from using it as traveling guides, some use the game trails to trace preys and watch them from a nearby high place such as a tree branch, a cliff, or even a rock situated above.
While some of them are after the animals they could have for their next meal, some of them are more concerned and interested in the humans who are also treading the path.
Their location gives them an advantage as to when to commence an attack against the unsuspecting prey. Whether it’s for hunting or for merely observing, certain animals are watching from above as well.
Things work slightly different for humans when it comes to dealing with game trails. These game trails, aside from telling the kinds of animals living within the terrain, it also indicates the response of these animals to their environment and the location of vital areas.
You can trace the path that leads to places with water or many trees where they get their food with these trails. The number of trails you can find might indicate not the type of animals but also the number of animals living in that area.
Given that these game trails indicate the usual locations of animals, they are also useful guides for hunters as to where to place observation apparatus such as game trail cameras, sound recorders and the like.
Once you have arrived at the conclusion of what animals live there, take note of the popular trails that the animals have trodden. If you have enough equipment, you can try following those trails and see where they lead. Some may take you to water sources, while some to food sources.
However, one must be cautious as some trails may lead to the dark, bushy and probably dangerous paths of the wild. Once thick bushes and impassable ways are coming your way in tracing these trails, be mindful of nature’s warnings and stop there.
As nature will dictate, these pathways are only suitable for those who are given the capacity to outwit the dangers. Therefore, it is recommendable that one maintains a distance from such places to avoid any injury or unintended poisoning. As it is known to all, getting poisoned in the wild is not just through the intake of poisonous plants, but also through skin contact.
Game trails are not just the signs you can use to track dangerous animals hiding (and possibly watching you from afar) in the wild.
Some of the symptoms to seriously take in such areas include newly-clawed tree trunks, unkempt plants and greenery and slight sounds of animals. Once these are sighted or are evident within the area, retreat to a much safer place as these are indicators of possible danger for a human.
Tracking Game Trails
Game trails, for different people, have different uses and triggers different interests. This gives the game trails different functions and different ways of letting these functions see. Overall, these game trails imply that the wild, though hints are given, can still have dangers lurking about its corners.
On top of that, there are uncertainties which game trails cannot give you clues with. This is where the role of an extending eye comes in—a role that can be fulfilled by a game trail camera.
With technology quickly advancing, there are already many options to capture life in the wild through photos. We have the smartphones being offered and even digital single-lens reflex camera or DSLR.
While all of these are great in image capturing, these gadgets are not wholly reliable when extreme weather conditions are included in the scene. This is where the work and the quality of game trail cameras come into the picture.
Game trail cameras are well known for their capacity to withstand different atmospheric conditions. From extreme heat to extreme cool, the game trail camera has got your observations covered. These game trail cameras can be stored almost anywhere in the wild.
The trick here lies on where you position it—somewhere away from the sight of humans and animals but not so hidden from the animals you want to carefully and safely watch.
Aside from previews of the wild, game trail cameras also offer vital details to your observation such as temperature, time, date, wind speed, wind direction, moon phase and many others.
Different cameras have different combinations of information flashed, but all the vitals are present regardless of the brand. With these features of the game trail camera, your observations are inevitably going to be convenient to record and very specific.
For people living near a wild forest, these will not only serve well in the wild but also in their homes. Through these trail cameras, homeowners could monitor which animals are living or roaming within the area. Given this data that trail cameras can give, they can do appropriate precautionary measures to avoid possible dangers.
The wonders of game trail cameras do not end with what they can capture and what elements they can endure. The convenience of setting it up and using it is also another factor that continues to amaze many customers and users of the game trail camera.
From the interior to the exterior, this camera is straightforward to use. All throughout the process, there are video guides all over YouTube to help you out in setting it up and using it. On top of that, trail cameras also come with a user’s manual or guide to show illustrations on how to make a particular feature work.
It also tells you how to do simple processes with the camera such as how to capture photos and videos and even make the camera stamp in essential details in the finished output.
As mentioned earlier, it all starts with setting up the camera. The most recommendable spot to hang a game trail camera is to a thick and sturdy tree trunk.
This will ensure that there will be minimized movements and shaking of the trail camera itself. Most experts also recommend that trail cameras be hung at 13.7 meters high above the ground. This will ensure that the camera is hidden from plain sight but not too hidden as to miss out the daily circulations of the resident animals.
Also, another important to note procedure is to utilize the daylight and night time function of the camera. This will help in adjusting the light that the camera will generate to capture the scenery efficiently and efficiently. More light will be produced by night time (in a black and white output) and a reduced amount of light in the daylight.
Experts also highly recommend that a hunter or observer uses more than one game trail camera, as one camera will not be enough to capture the all the crucial happenings in the wild. By putting more than one game trail camera, you must also consider the locations of each camera and their distances from one another to maximize the functions of these.
To execute this more efficiently, you can consult Google maps or the people residing near the area where you plan to observe. If you know the place by heart or have a mental map of the area in your head, then all the more advantages there are for you.
Take note or ask the places most frequented by animals and find a spot or a tree from which you can hang your game trail cameras. Once these areas are determined, consider the number of cameras you have and strategically place them in areas which you think are optimal for your goal.
Knowing how to identify game trails, their possible indications and their uses are helpful indeed. The information it gives is not just for those who want to have a glimpse of the wild, but also for those who want to keep their areas safe and sound from wild animal attacks and the like. On top of that, knowing how to capture the stories behind them also give you an edge, especially if you want to uncover facts and unusual stories.