How to read whitetail deer tracks in the snow


how to read deer tracks in the snow

How to read deer tracks in the snow.. Illustration by Mike Sudal

Face it. Almost all of your deer hunting has been sit-and-wait. It doesn’t matter if you sit in a tree or in a blind, the routine is the same: model the deer, set up your stand, set the alarm, harvest your buck. And that’s fine, but haven’t you always wanted to track a deer in the snow like those big woods hunters in Maine and Montana? This is where you’ll need a new set of skills, and now is a good time to perfect them. You don’t need your rifle, at least not to start – just your persistence. Here are some clues to help you spot a deer trail.

how to read deer tracks in the snow
These clues tell you a lot about the freshness of a trackā€”and the size of the deer that left it. Illustration by Mike Sudal
  1. Find what appear to be fresh deer tracks. Next to them make a palm print in the snow and then press its edges. Now, press the edges and the middle line of the hoof print. If the track is hot, the snow will give way just as easily.
  2. Debris inside the hoof print, such as spring tail snow fleas or windblown snow, is a sign of an older track.
  3. Look for features in the print, such as a longer toe or cloven hoof, to help you stay on the trail of a particular deer.
  4. The width of the dewclaw marks can tell you more about the size of the deer than the length of the toes. If their outer edges are 3 inches or more, that’s a deer worth pursuing.
Deer tracks in the snow
A set of whitetail tracks lead to a bedding area. Colin Kearns

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