Have you ever wondered how humans ever survived before we developed advanced tools and weapons for hunting? We are physically weaker, slower and less fit for killing than pretty much most other animals worth consuming. Also, without the ability to farm tremendous varieties of food, meat would have absolutely been an essential staple to our diet. No human would have been able to survive as a vegetarian.
So how did we manage to hunt before the first forms of technology were developed? Well, we do reign superior in at least one physical attribute (in addition to intelligence), endurance. Humans are highly efficient in long distance travel. A cheetah for example can overheat after a few short sprints and if it doesn't rest and cool down, it can fry it's brain and die. Most mammals suffer the same flaws. Dogs can't sweat, so if they were forced to run an extended period of time in very warm temperatures, they would never outlast a human being. There are very few exceptions to the claim that humans have the best mammalian endurance in the world.
How did our great endurance make us successful hunters? Our great endurance, combined with the ability to track animals is basically how we caught our prey. We would run them down for hours or even days until they collapsed due to exhaustion. It's even possible to do today, but why would we go through the hassle when we have even more efficient ways to hunt. Plus, for that method to be most effective it would probably require several people or even groups working together to track down an animal.
Animal Tracking Basics
Distribution and Location: Most animals are not evenly distributed throughout the local environment. These animals will gather around areas of food, water, shelter and even light in some cases. Very dark and dense forests deep in the middle will not likely harbor a thriving community of animal life, but the outer edges are more likely to offer the things needed for animals to survive.
Using Trails and Runs: Like humans, animals use trails too. A commonly traveled path is far easier to travel and therefore more efficient. Efficiency saves time and energy, an important aspect of survival for any animal. These signs of wildlife are also very easy to spot, good for us, bad for them.
Identifying Sleeping and Feeding Areas: Although many of these areas can differ from species to species, some of the general principles are the same. Burrows and matted down vegetation are clear signs that something lives there. These areas are often surrounded by denser regions which helps to hide from and slow down predators who may be following the animal. Other clues that an area may be a common resting ground or feeding area is the presence of scrape marks on mossy logs, snapped twigs and sticks on the ground, and animal footprints and tracks.
Identifying Different Species: Learning to identify animal tracks can be a fun task. You can keep it simple and learn just a few of the most common animal tracks in your region or you can challenge yourself to learn hundreds of different animals. It's important to know the animal you are tracking in order to best predict where it may go going (direction and type of location) and it can also warn you if you're on the verge of tracking something you don't want to encounter such as a bear or wildcat.
Just by using the most basic knowledge of animal tracking you can gain a tremendous advantage. Learning how to track animals is an essential survival hunting skill all preppers should endeavor upon. Even when armed with the best hunting tools, often times an animal escapes with nothing more than a mild injury. This is where the ability to track an animal is really important. In many cases it can be considered very inhumane to allow an animal to get away free while being injured because of the likeliness of eventual death anyway. A wild animal rarely survives long with moderate to severe injuries such as broken bones or deep flesh wounds caused by arrows or gun shots. It is your duty and obligation to finish the job by applying your tracking skills. It can potentially help to keep an innocent animal from unnecessary misery and also provide you and your family a valuable food source.