A lot of useful knowledge about wild game can be gained by learning their distinctive tracks and then simply following their trails.
Every species of wild game leaves a unique and distinctive track (or footprint) where they have traveled, however subtle their differences.
When these animals have traveled across soft, and/or moist soil, these tracks appear all the more clearly and distinctively.
Many digital resources and publications are now available to assist one in learning the varied sizes, shapes, and depths of tracks left behind by the many species of wildlife that roam any given area.
It’s also possible though, to learn their differences the old-fashioned way; by simply thinking of tracks in terms of the unique size and shape of a given animal’s foot or hoof.
In central Texas, a feral hog, for example, has an overall relatively oval shaped, cloven or split hoof, longitudinally divided in the middle. In a hog’s track, the two halves of the hoof can be seen as two individual oval impressions in the soil. Often, the lateral toes (or dewclaws) can be seen as two smaller impressions to the rear and each side of the print.
Deer tracks are very similar in appearance to hog tracks, except that they are generally smaller, and have an overall shape that is more triangular than hog tracks, because the two main cloven impressions are curved and tapered from wider to narrower from back to front. While the lateral toes of deer hooves can also sometimes be seen in their prints, they are much smaller and less defined than those of hog tracks.
Alternately, species of animals such as the bobcat and others in the feline and rodent families have padded feet and claws that leave behind a much different impression in their path.
Once you know by their tracks which animal trails you’ve spotted, you can follow those trails to learn things such as estimates of animal numbers, sizes, and ages in an area, where they bed down in underbrush, from what point they regularly enter a property, or the areas where they otherwise generally travel.
Such knowledge can be used to strategically plan how and where to hunt, thereby bettering hunters’ odds for a successful hunt.