Start a New Family Tradition this Winter

Explore wildlife tracks IN THE OKANOGAN!

Lets get tracking! 

During the winter,  wild game animal tracks are abundant if you pay attention. The most viewed would have to be deer tracks. However,  there is often more than what meets the eye during our winter and you may be surprised how many types of animal tracks you will find. Among the deer are rabbits, bears, and coyote paws/hooves boldly imprinted in the snow. Even more rare, are those of moose, beaver or elk. At this time it is important to keep your distance from migrating animals. For your safety and theirs especially during the mating season (February-March) please use extreme caution when approaching any wild game animals. This is there beautiful home, and it is up to us to keep it that way. This should not stop you from a fun adventure, or identifying different animal trails if desired. If you are worried about getting too close, use this easy rule of thumb trick. Make a thumbs up and extend your arm all the way in front of you. Close one eye and try to cover the animal you can see with your extended thumb. If the animal is hidden behind your thumb, you are a safe enough distance from the animal. If you can still see the animal behind your thumb, continue to move farther away.

A good way to determine if a track is fresh is to look for clear and distinct edges. Weather like wind and rain can wash away tracks, and they'll become less visible overtime. Looking for tracks after a heavy rain, or fresh snow, is an excellent way to know if the tracks are newly imprinted. 

There are different types of animal tracks to look for as well. Hoppers are referred to as rabbits and squirrels as the small feet on their front legs land first followed by the larger legs and hind feet. 

Bounders are weasels and minks due to their prints being close together. Amblers are bears, and skunks. You can differentiate tracks by their wobbling pattern. The ‘perfect steppers’ are coyotes, fox, and moose. These prints are usually in a front-to-back line. 

For reference on different animal tracks download these handy animal track cards form Princeton University. 

Where to start? 

There are many wildlife areas to check out in Okanogan Country. A few we recommend are the following: 

Summertime tracking


Summertime is the best time to observe local wildlife. It is also when animals are most active in Spring and Summer. Here are some summer tracking tips, to keep in mind while you’re out and about.. Look for muddy trails or fresh rain. This will make it easier to determine if they are fresh. 

Measure the length and width of several prints. Measure the stride (length between prints) and the straddle (width between prints), this can give you an idea of how quickly the animal was moving. Look for a heel, count the number of toes, and look for any claw marks. Follow the tracks and note any patterns. With so much to explore, we look forward to hearing about your experience in Okanogan Country. Remember to make a plan when out in the backcountry. Stay safe, and please respect our wild game and their ecosystem. 

Free Winter Recreation Map!

Okanogan Country has an incredible number of winter recreation opportunities. Order a FREE Winter Recreation map and find your winter adventure in Okanogan Country today!