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Tracking Animals for Photography: Explore

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

To find a good area you will need to do a little research on local hiking trails near you. Once you find a few good areas, get out and hike them on a regular basis. While hiking looks for signs of animals. Animals are creators of habit and will travel on the same paths their whole life and hiking trails are an easy path to follow. But sometimes they will create their own trails called Game Trails.

Game Trails are paths the wildlife in that area created over generations. Animals create these paths by using the same track over and over for hunting, grazing, or for migration. These paths can be only a few hundred feet long or hundreds of miles long and can lead to water sources, grass fields, or dens. It's basically an animal highway used from mice to large game or predators hunting these other commuters.

Some great tools to use for trails in your area are and Google Earth. With you can locate hiking trails then use Google Earth to zoom in to view game trails in that same area. Other key features to look for are water sources and fields animals use to graze in.

While hiking your areas, follow some of the Game Trails to see where they lead and the amount of animal activity on that trail. A well-used trail will have tracks, scats, or even tufts of fur on vegetation. You may notice that many of the game trails will criss-cross each other and may get a little confusing. Just try and follow the ones with the most animal traffic, they all tend to lead in the same direction or destination.

Tip: Use a GPS device or App on your phone to track your progress. It will help you to return to the area and show which trails you have done already. You can also mark points of interest with waypoints.

Personal Progress:

I have hiked over 1200+ trail miles in a 1350 square mile area in my local mountains over the past 5 years. Much of these trails are well established and have a fair amount of human traffic, and even more recent traffic thanks to the “Social Media Influencers”. It is not too uncommon to see an occasional Deer, Coyote, Bobcat, or Fox on the trails. Seeing the larger predator animals like Bears and Mountain Lions is a rarity or nonexistent. The tracks and scat for both are always on the trail, but I have only come across a single Bear in 5 years. The primary factors for selecting the area I will monitor are; within an hour drive time, having the least amount of human presence as possible, and not being too remote that I waste the whole day getting there.


  • Vortex Recon Optix 8x32 Monocular

  • Nikon Z7 II

  • Nikon Z 70-200mm Lens

  • Nikon Z 105mm Macro Lens

  • Shimoda Designs Action X30 Pack

  • Peak Designs Travel Tripod

  • MountainSmith Trekker FX Lite Trekking Pole with Manfrotto RC2 Head

Subscribe Now to follow my progress and get some Tips & Tricks for your wildlife photo outing.

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