Footshapes, gaits, forage sign, nests & beds

Tracking-gait canvases travel with Discovery to Gustavus.

For more than a quarter century, tracking has been Discovery’s core focus during winter Nature Studies activities in elementary schools throughout the District. It’s one of our most ‘hands-on’ activities. Pre-field indoor sessions include full-body practice, replicating the movement of deer, bear, wolf, otter and snowshoe hare. When we’ve hopped like a hare or loped like an otter, those confusing alignments of front and hind feet stay with us—a more durable memory than we get from just intellectually perusing the gait patterns in tracking guides.

And by the way, as Discovery naturalists remind students on all field trips regardless of theme, everything is a track. The very mud slick in the photo below from Kaxdigoowu Héen is itself a track, of alluvial processes and their modification by s’igeidí, beaver. My 2001 winter Discoveries feature, Bite marks and bathtub rings: a clue-reading toolkit for Southeast naturalists, develops this idea.

From left to right: red squirrel, mink, snipe. Pencil is 5.5 inches. Good for size comparison. Beaver activity along Kaxdigoowu Héen, going back clear water (Montana Creek) results in ideal fine-mud ‘blackboards,’ sometimes even showing the individual toe prints of mice.


In this section

Bones & tracks

Everything is a track (especially a bone) For a recent Discovery staff session—one of those sideways-rainy days when you still…

Mammals of Lingít Aaní

Resources from Discovery’s early days In winter 2021-22, we’re pulling together materials for our Nature Studies naturalists, for units on…

2022 | Richard Carstensen | 23 pages

1997 Summer newsletter: Wild watershed

There is no free lunch Life-and-death adventures with middle schoolers on the mountain above Dzantik’i Héeni Middle School. Tracking birds…

Summer 1997 | Richard Carstensen | 4 pages

Bog visit on Sayeik (Douglas Island)

Tracking from skis on fresh snow in deer-&-hare country, Sayéik, spirit helper (Douglas Island). douglasbogs from Discovery Southeast JuneauNature on…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 96 seconds

1996 Winter newsletter: Under snow, KH, & Winter tracking, RC

Under the snow The third issue of Discoveries has a feature article by Kathy Hocker on animal adaptations to the…

1996 winter | Kathy Hocker & Richard Carstensen | 6 pages

2001 winter newsletter: Bite marks and bathtub rings

A clue-reading toolkit for Southeast naturalists My feature article for Discoveries developed what had become a mantra among our naturalists:…

Common tracks guide

Tracking has been a core activity in Discovery programs for about 30 years.  This pocket guide provides tracking tips for…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 60 pages, 2.3 MB, 5.5 x 4.25