Timber Wolf, Lake Superior, Ontario

A lone timber wolf greets
paddlers along the north shore
of Lake Superior, Canada
(Photo by Michael Neiger)

Good trackers
are not born as such,
they must be trained.
   -- Ab Taylor
   Mantracking, 1977


To be
a successful tracker,
as in any other
you will have
to adhere
to the age old adage
that nothing
is achieved
except by hard,
conscientious work.
   -- Bob Carss
   The SAS Guide to
cking, 2000


No doubt
to you it appeared
a mere
trampling line of slush,
but to my trained eyes
every mark
upon its surface
had a meaning.
   -- Sherlock Holmes
   to Watson
   A Study in Scarlet


With a slow
and noiseless footstep
the messenger divine.
   -- Henry W. Longfellow


when eve's silent footfall
steals along
the eastern sky,
and one by one
to earth reveals
those purer fires
on high.
   -- John Keble
   The Christian Year:
   Fourth Sunday After


It frightens me
to see
all the footprints
directed towards
thy den,
and none returning.
   -- Quintus H.F. Horace
   65-8 B.C.
   Epistles Book 1


To our graves
we walk
in the thick footprints
of departed men.
   -- Alexander Smith


Mere clay,
wherein the footprints
of their age
are petrified forever.
   -- James R. Lowell
   A Glance Behind
   the Curtain
, 1843


I tread
in the footsteps
of illustrious men.
   -- Martin Van Buren
   Inaugural Address


As he who sets
his willing feet
in nature's footprints,
light and fleet,
and follows fearless
where she leads.
   -- Henry J. Longfellow
   Keramos, 1878


Lives of great men
all remind us
we can
make our lives sublime,
leave behind us
on the sands of time.
   -- Henry W. Longfellow    1807-1882
   A Psalm of Life, 1838


One day,
about noon,
going towards my boat,
I was
exceedingly surprised
with the print
of a man's naked foot
on the shore,
which was
very plain
to be seen
on the sand.
   -- Daniel Defoe
   Robinson Crusoe,


The inaudible
and noiseless
foot of time.
   -- William Shakespeare
   All's Well
   That Ends Well,



We have found
a strange footprint
on the shores
of the unknown.
We have devised
profound theories,
one after another,
to account
for its origin.
At least
we have succeeded
in reconstructing
the creature
that made the footprint.
   -- Sir Arthur Eddington
   Space, Time, &
, 1920


Do not
seek to follow
in the footsteps
of the men of old;
what they sought.
   -- Matsuo Basho
   The Rustic Gate

The Rucksack Masthead
By Michael A. Neiger (aka: LandNavMan), Marquette, Michigan
Wilderness tripper: backpacking, winter camping, swift-water canoeing
Web site URL: http://therucksack.tripod.com • E-mail: mneiger@hotmail.com
Contents copyright © 1984-2007 by Michael A. Neiger • All rights reserved.

Bush Skills

A RuckSack primer on...
& trailing
man &
in the bush

The art of

By Michael A. Neiger
Copyright 2001

Last updated August 8, 2007

Timber wolf track
A timber wolf track—with
full-size, 2.06-inch-long
whistle as a scale—in the
mud atop the west canyon
wall near Black Beaver Lake,
Agawa Canyon, Ontario,
(Photo by Loretta Crum)

Contents of page

   Mammals, tracks, scat, & sign
   Animal tracking & trailing
   Mantracking & trailing

Looking for
wilderness tripping
equipment and
For 100's of sources for wilderness tripping equipment and supplies, visit the sources for gear page on this Web site.

Need help
finding a book?
Trying to buy a new or used copy of a book, but can't locate one? Want to find a library somewhere in the country that will lend you the book at no cost? Then visit the handy book finder page on this Web site.

a book, catalog,
or Web site.
If you know of a useful outdoor-related book, catalog, or Web site not listed on this Web site, e-mail the book's title, subtitle, author, publisher, date of publication, and short description; or the catalog's address and phone number; or the Web site's URL to Michael Neiger at mneiger@hotmail.com.

** Recommended


SAS Guide to Tracking
The SAS Guide to Tracking
by Bob Carss, a member
of Britain's famous
Special Air Service (SAS).


Animal Diversity Web
by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

   Use handy search engine to quickly locate
   information on mammal of interest.

Animalia directory by Google

eNature.com Online Field Guide
   Check out the Online Mammal Field Guide.

Hinterland Who's Who page
by the Canadian Wildlife Service

   Excellent information on specific mammals.

Mammal directory by Yahoo
   Click on "mammals" and then select mammal of choice.


Teeth in coyot scat

Teeth from an unknown animal found in weathered coyote scat on escarpment north of Little Miner's River Falls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore backcounty, September 2001 (Teeth courtesy of Mary Powell)

American Mammals
, by W.J. Hamilton (McGraw-Hill, 1939).Covers habits of mammals.

American Wild Life (Wm. H. Wise & Co., 1961)

Animal Tracks, by Chris Stall (Mountaineers Books)

Animal Tracks, by George F. Mason (W. Morrow and Co., 1943)

Animal Tracks, by Roseann Hanson & Jonathan Hanson (Globe Pequot Press, 2001). A Basic Essentials Series book.

Animal Tracks and Hunter Signs, by Ernest T. Seton (Doubleday, 1958)

Animal Tracks and Signs of North America, by Richard P. Smith (Stackpole Books, 1982)

Animal Tracks and Traces, by Kathleen V. Kudlinski

Animal Tracks of the Great Lakes, by Ian Sheldon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1997)

** Animal Tracks of the Great Lakes States, by Chris Stall (The Mountaineers, 1990). This book is an easy-to-carry, 4- by 6-inch guide with animal narratives and life-size tracks.

Backyard and Beyond--A Guide For Discovering the Outdoors, by Edward Duensing (Fulrum Pub., 1992)

Collins Guide to Animal Tracks and Signs, by P. Bang and P. Dahlstrom (Collins, 1974)

Familiar Animals of America, by Will Barker (Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1956)

Familiar Animal Tracks of North America, by John Farrand, Jr. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993)

Field Book of Animals in Winter, by Ann Morgan (Putnam)

Field Book of North American Mammals, by Harold E. Anthony (Putnam, 1928)

** Field Guide to the Mammals, by William H. Burt and Richard P. Grossenheider (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1976). An excellent Peterson Field Guide to mammals including: narrative, size, weight, color, markings, teeth, habitat, and habits; color photos and line drawings; and tracks, dens, nests, and burrows.

Getting to Know Our Wildlife, Book One, by Betty Sodders (Avery Color Studios, 1991)

Guide to Animal Tracks, by R. Marlin Perkins (Stackpole Books, 1989)

Guide to Nature in Winter, by D.W. Stokes (Little, Brown, and Co., 1976)

Handbook of Mammals of the North-Central States, by J.K. Jones, Jr., and E.C. Birney (University of Minnesota Press, 1988)

Identifying Animal Tracks--Mammals, Birds, and Other Animals of the Eastern United States, by Richard Headstrom (Dover Publications Inc., 1971)

Illustrated Key to Skulls of Genera of North American Land Mammals, by J.K. Jones, Jr., and R.W. Manning (Texas Tech Press, 1992)

** Key-Guide to Mammal Skulls and Lower Jaws, by Aryan I. Roest (Mad River Press, 1986). Useful for identifying origin of skull fragments, jaw bones, and tooth fragments found in scat.

Key to the Skulls of North American Mammals, 2nd edition, B.P. Glass (University of Oklahoma Zoology Dept., 1981)

Larousse Guide to Animal Tracks, Trails, and Signs, by R.W. Brown, M.J. Lawrence, and J. Pope (Larousse & Co., 1984

Mammals of Canada, by A.W.F. Banfield (University of Toronto Press, 1974). This 438-page, 8.5- by 11-inch text is the bible of Canadian mammals.

Mammals of Eastern Canada, by R.L. Peterson (Oxford University Press, 1966)

Mammals of Michigan, by William H. Burt (University of Michigan, 1946)

Mammals of North America, by E.R. Hall (John Wiley & Sons, N.Y., 1981)

Mammals of North America, by Victor H. Cahalane (Macmillan, 1947)

Mammals of the Eastern United States, by W.J. Hamilton, Jr., and J.O. Whitaker, Jr. (Cornell University Press, 1979)

Mammals of the Great Lakes Region, revised edition, by Allen Kurta (University of Michigan Press, 1995). This excellent text covers 83 species of mammals and presents information on their appearance (including skulls), behavior, and ecology.

Michigan Mammals, by Rollin H. Baker (Michigan State Press, 1983). This 642-page, 8.5- by 11-inch, text is the bible of Michigan mammals.

Mystery Tracks in the Snow--A Guide to Animal Tracks, by Hap Gilliland (1990)

** National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals, by John O. Whitaker, Jr. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998). This excellent field guide covers 390 species, with detailed narrative, 374 color photographs, and a unique visual-key system for quick mammal identification.

Skulls & Bones--A Guide to the Skeletal Structures and Behavior of North American Mammals, by Glenn Searfoss (Stackpole Books, 1995). An excellent guide for identifying skulls and bones found in the bush.

Track Finder--A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America, by Dorcas S. Miller (Nature Study Guide, 1981)

Tracks and Trailcraft--A Fully Illustrated Guide to the Identification of Animal Tracks in Forest and Field, Barnyard, and Backyard, by Ellsworth Jaeger (The Lyons Press, 2001)

Tracks and Trails (Boy Scouts of America, 1928)

Tracks in the Snow, by Heribert Horneck

Tracks, Scats, and Sign, by Leslie A. Dendy (Northword Press, 1998). For young readers.

Track Watching, by David Webster (Franklin Watts, Inc., 1972)

Where They Go in the Winter, by Margaret Buck (Abington)

Winter Signs in the Snow, by Gerald Cox (Michael Kesend Publishing, 1975)

Winter--Tracks in the Snow, by Janet McDonnell

Wild Animals of North America (National Geographic Society, 1979)

Wild Mammals of North America--Biology, Management, and Economics, by J.A. Chapman and G.A. Feldhamer, eds. (John Hopkins University Press, 1982)



Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den
   This excellent site focuses on tracks of mammals,
   birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and humans.

Outdoor Action guide to Animal Tracking
   Lots of useful information




Animal Tracking Basics, by Jon Young (Stackpole Books, 2007)

Animal Tracking for Boy Scouts--Hints on Animal Tracking, by Rodney C. Wood (Canadian General Council for Boy Scouts Association, 1924)

** Animal Tracks of Ontario, by Ian Sheldon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1997). This book is an easy-to-carry, 4- by 6-inch guide with line drawings of animals, hind and fore prints, stride patterns, and narratives.

Art of Tracking--The Origin of Science, by Louis Liebenberg. This book covers the complete evolution and development of tracking from the first hunter-gathers to today's hunter-trackers.

Basic Animal Tracking for Pathfinders, by L.S. Gattis

Book of Animal Tracking, by Jim Arnosky (Simon & Schuster Books, 1989). For young readers.

Complete Tracker--Tracks, Signs, and Habits of North American Wildlife, by Len McDougall (The Lyons Press, 1997)

Crinkleroot's Book of Animal Tracking, by Jim Arnosky

Enthusiastic Tracking--the Step-by-Step Training Handbook, by William R. Sanders (Rime Publications, 1998)

** Field Guide to Animal Tracks, second edition, by Olaus J. Murie (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974). An excellent Peterson Field Guide to tracks including habit, habitats, tracks, scat, signs, ranges, and identification keys.

Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in North America, by James Halfpenny (Johnson Publishing Co., 1988). A very good text which includes a section on scatology.

** Field Guide to Tracking Animals in Snow, by Louise R. Forrest (Stackpole Books, 1988). An excellent text dedicated to tracking animals in snow.

** Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior, by Donald W. Stokes (Little Brown & Co., 1987). An excellent Stokes Nature Guide presenting life-size tracks and scats, signs, tracking info, dens, trails, burrows, gnawings, scrapings, and caches.

How to Track and Find Game, by Clyde Ormond (Outdoor Life Books, 1975)

Mammal Tracks: Life-Size Tracking Guide, by Lynn Levine and Martha Mitchell (Heartwood Press, 2001)

Scouting & Tracking, by Randolph Marcy (Applewood Books, 1996). For young readers.

** Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking, by Tom Brown, Jr., and Brandt Morgan (Berkley Publishing Group, 1988). An excellent book addressing a number of basic, Native American wilderness skills: silent movement in the bush, track identificaion, animal tracking, mantracking, etc.

The Tracker's Field Guide: A Comprehensive Handbook for Animal Tracking in the United States, by James C. Lowery (Falcon, 2006)

Tracking & the Art of Seeing--How to Read Animal Tracks & Sign, by Paul Rezendes (Harper Resource, 1999). A very good text with lots of color photos.

Tracking Wounded Deer--How to Find and Tag Deer Shot with Bow or Gun, by Richard P. Smith (Smith Publications, 1996)

Tracks and Tracking, by Josef Brunner (Outing Publishing Co., 1909)

Trapping and Tracking, by George Clawson (Winchester Press, 1977)

Wildlife Observer's Eyes, Optical Equipment for Observing Nature, by Galen L. Gear (Menasha Ridge Press, 1990)




Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den: Tracking Humans

Selous Scouts Combat Tracking page
   This excellent site contains lots of combat
   mantracking info used by the famous
   Selous Scouts, British counterinsurgents
   who operated in the harsh Rhodesian bush.


Tracking and Countertracking, Evasion, and Escape, and Survival (Appendix F) in Long-Range Surveillance Unit Operations (Army FM 7-93)

Yahoo Man-Tracking University message board

Yahoo Tracking and Signcutting Club message board



and trailing books


Art and Science of Tracking Man and Beast, by Tom Hanratty (Medicine Hawk Wilderness Skills, Inc., 1997)

Fundamentals of Mantracking, by Donald Cooper (Emergency Response Institute, 1992). Considered the bible of SAR tracking books by one reviewer.

Man-Trackers & Dog Handlers in Search & Rescue--Basic Guidelines and Information, by Greg Fuller, Ed Johnson, and Robert J. Koester (DBS Productions, 2000). This book promotes the use of mantrackers together with tracking dogs.

Mantracking--Introduction to the Step-By-Step Method, by Roland Robbins (Search and Rescue Magazine, 1977). This book presents the fundamentals of mantracking, including the use of a sign-cutting stick, as taught by several members of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Patrolling and Tracking, Australian Military Forces (Paladin Press 1988)

** SAS Guide to Tracking, by Bob Carss, (The Lyons Press, 2000). An excellent mantracking text written by Bob Carss, a member of Britain's famous Special Air Service (SAS) who trained in the jungles of New Zealand, with Iban trackers in Brunei, and in the Sahara. This book covers: tracking in forest, marsh, and grassy areas; interpreting animal, human, and vehicle signs; preserving night vision; detecting backtracking; effects of time and weather on sign; and spotting misleading signs.

** Science and Art of Tracking, by Tom Brown, Jr. (Penguin USA, 1999). An excellent tracking manual based on the techniques and skills employed by Native American Scouts, the masters of the wilderness.

Tactical Tracking Operations--The Essential Guide for Military & Police Trackers, by David Scott-Donelan (Paladin Press, 1998). This manual is aimed at the solo or group tracker and covers: on-the-ground tricks; training drills; equipment lists; finding and following tracks; aging tracks; relocating lost trails; foiling counter-tracking efforts; and more.

Tracker: Case Files & Adventures of a Professional Mantracker by Joel Hardin (J. Hardin, 2004)

** Tracking--A Blueprint for Learning How, 7th edition, by Jack Kearney (Pathways Press, 1999, www.pathways-press.com). Kearney, a retired U.S. Border patrol agent and expert mantracker, tells you how to identify tracks, determine direction and age, utilize sun angle, spot signs, and follow nonvisible trails.

Tracking--Signs of Man, Signs of Hope: A Systematic Approach to the Art and Science of Tracking Humans, by David Diaz (The Lyons Press, 2005)

Tracking and Countertracking, Evasion, and Escape, and Survival (Appendix F) in Long-Range Surveillance Unit Operations (Army FM 7-93)


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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
— John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

Content Copyright © by Michael A. Neiger
All rights reserved.
Comments? Suggestions? Dead links? Inaccurate info?
Contact the WebMaster at mneiger@hotmail.com