I few years ago I took some notes in my notebook about the set of tracks described above. Later I transfered my sketch to piece of paper. The track was interesting because it showed more than just a set of tracks.
The size of the animal’s stride indicated to me that it was a buck. The variation in stride indicated to me that the animal was either injured or had been injured in the past. In my notes I indicated that I thought it was probably a left shoulder injury. Now, in looking at this sketch, it seems that it could also have been an existing injury to the right shoulder.
As the buck stepped forward with it’s right foot on the ground the weight of it’s body would be shifted to the right shoulder. The pain of the injury caused it to limit the extention of its left leg. However if it was an old injury to the left shoulder, its possible that the injury limited extention of the left leg meaning to me it could also be a healed injury to the left shoulder.
Each species of animal has a distinct method of walking. Walking deer register their tracks indirectly to the same spot. Meaning that each track I sketched is actually the print where two feet hit the ground. If I had sketched the track in more detail you would be able to see that the edge of the tract shows where each foot hit. Left rear foot falls nearly on top of the track of the left front foot etc.
Canines are also indirect register when walking, but cats are direct register – meaning that the rear foot falls directly on top of the front foot and you cannot usually see any sign of the rear print.
By studying and sketching many tracks and comparing them, one can develop a feel for the size of the animal and unique features of each animals tracks. This can be done for each species and eventually one develps the ability to read the ground and visualize what animals are doing. The ability to do this is called the art of “seeing”.