Animal Tracks and The Tracker

Tom Brown Jr., a.k.a. The Tracker, runs a tracking, nature, and wilderness survival school located in New Jersey. He’s written many, many books about outdoor survival, animal tracking, and the philosophy that guides his approach to the outdoors. In the article I just wrote for the About.com Survival Skills site, “Essential Survival Skills Books by Tom Brown Jr.,” I profile five of his books most relevant to survival skills, including the Field Guide to Wilderness, the Science and Art of Tracking, and the Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children, among others.

As far as animal tracking goes, I’m not a hunter, but I’m always on the lookout for animal prints. I like to know what’s wandering around in my neck of the woods. A few years ago, I was stunned to wake up at a campsite and find mountain lion tracks that had appeared sometime during the night. But when I see the tracks photographed at the top right, I just have to smile. Think you know what animal those tracks are from?

I’ll give you a hint…you’ve probably already guessed that the tracks are from some sort of bird, and that the bird lives in a cold climate. I’ll tell you that the bird lives in Antarctica, but it’s NOT a Skua, an Antarctic bird known for its scavenging ways:

Look at these tracks again. Notice that the tracks seem to be from a bird that’s walking–not hopping along. The tracks look like they’re dragging along a bit, and they’re not too far apart, so the bird probably has short legs, and it might be on the heavy side.

Did you guess penguin? If so, you’re CORRECT. I took a photograph of these penguin tracks one day when I was out Nordic skiing on the Ross Ice Shelf, near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I worked in communications with a contractor for the National Science Foundation and got to see penguins in their natural surroundings, but I also saw them here, at what’s was called the penguin ranch–a place where scientists corralled them together for further study:

If penguins also make you smile, here’s a final photograph that my friend and co-worker Zondra Skertich took of a beautiful Emperor Penguin with Mount Erebus in the background:

Want to know more about The Tracker, Tom Brown Jr., and his books?
“Essential Survival Skills Books by Tom Brown Jr.”
Add these books by Tom Brown Jr. to your survival skills reference library…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara and Zondra Skertich.

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