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Tracking Animals for Photography: Location

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Hopefully, by now you have hiked some miles and done some exploring to find your location. Now comes the time for you to just explore your research area. Follow all the game trails to see where they lead and create a map. If your location doesn't have too many trees you can create a map in Google Earth using the Ruler / Path tool. If you do have a lot of trees in your area you may need to do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pencil. This map will come in handy later to mark all the animal signs and sightings in relation to the game trails to figure out patterns.

Wildlife tend to have daily routines and patterns that will revolve around the time of day, water, and food sources. Weather can affect these routines, such as a recent rainfall or extreme heat, but the wildlife will stay in their range but just alter their routine slightly. In arid and desert regions after rainfall wildlife will come out in off times to search for water and food. In one area I found a Diamondback Rattlesnake that was hanging out near a water source waiting for his food to come to get a drink.

You should also create a log for each time you visit your research area. This will go hand and hand with your map. A good program for this would be Google Spreadsheets. You can use an offline version on your cell phone to make entries and take notes in the field. Some items you should include in your log are;




Weather Conditions:

Wildlife Signs:

Wildlife Sightings:


Tracking Tip: If you find a track, use a stick and smooth it out. See if there are more tracks on your next visit. If it's a high-traffic game trail there will be more.

Personal Progress:

The area that I selected is 1.5 square miles in a canyon located in my local mountains. The canyon has a trail up the center with many game trail offshoots. There is a seasonal water source in the middle which is surrounded by a very large dead oak tree and live oak trees and tall grass around that. There is little human activity in this area due to the trail starting 2.5 miles up the mountain off a fire road. An added bonus is that I found a few areas that have exposed fossil beds (Read Fossil Post). Each time I'm in the area exploring I find more fossils.


  • 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

  • Helinox Chair One

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

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