Define a "hot track."
In less than 21 days, my front yard has gone from knee-deep snow and -25C nights through water and mud to dry and a little dusty.
Practically every night, the local mule deer (4 of them) walk across the yard. (My trail cam decided to pack it in.)
I don't need to take more than a dozen steps to watch those tracks age.
It's a fairly predictable series of changes.
Without that, I'd suggest a wood carving of a deer hoof-print. Mark the ground with it. Pound it in an inch or so.
Then watch those tracks age. Leafy, sandy, muddy, everything that you can arrange.
Apologies if this has been posted before.
A handy “tip” I was taught and still us, and easy to pass onto kids and other people:
Regularity - Foot prints and othe rman made type stuff creating patterns.
Flattening of grass, Moss etc
transfer of a substance to another. Eg. Sand to rock, mud into water, water onto rock etc
underside of leaves being lighter, have them moved, the colour change of foliage etc.
general disturbance of the area, looks like something has moved through, or if your quick enough the disturbance of mud still floating in water.
Rubbish, Little, human/animal waste, bits of equipment etc.
Ground sign is anything from the Ankle down, top sign is anything above.
If a track is “hot” it’s within 2 hours.
Cold if any longer. Obviously the effects of disturbed water or weather impacts on mainly of the principles.
So tell me what difference that makes in terms of tracking skills?
I notice there is no mention from your friend of smell when tracking. Do you not use smell?
Add an elastic band to your walking stick.
Put one end of your stick on a track. Move the band along the stick until it aligns with the same foot track along the trail.
Measure that length until you find the next track.
The most obvious one is tracking humans, depending on the environment but you can tell instantly when humans have been or continue to be nearby.