About the Study Guide

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Whatever you're hunting, a basic understanding of an animal's characteristics will help you develop an effective strategy for identifying and tracking it.

  • Animals can be identified by four basic characteristics:
    • Distinctive Markings: The black cheek patch on male pronghorns; the "flags" of the white-tailed deer; the face pattern on a gray fox; the green head on a mallard drake; the red, white, and blue on the head of a male turkey
    • Sounds: The wild call of the sandhill crane; the familiar honk of the goose; the gobble of a strutting "tom"; the grunt of the deer; the howl of the coyote; the bugling of an elk
    • Movement: The bounce of mule deer; the fast or slow wing beats of some waterfowl; the zigzag in-flight pattern of the common snipe when flushed
    • Group Behavior: Flock patterns, such as the familiar "V" shape of certain migratory birds; various types of herd behavior
  • Further study will help you learn other ways to identify and understand your quarry, including signs the animal leaves, camouflage capability, and behavior.

Characteristics of Mammals

  • Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair. Young are nourished with milk from the mother.
  • Mammals can be carnivorous (meat eating), herbivorous (plant eating), or omnivorous (meat and plant eating).
  • Mammals seek to regulate their temperature. Mammals in cold climates must keep warm, and mammals in hot climates must keep cool.
  • Small mammals live shorter lives than large mammals, in general.
  • Mammals vary in social behavior—some species live in groups, and other species are solitary except when mating or raising offspring.