** 2. Test the track. **
In powder snow, during a cold snap, or in deeply shaded areas, a three-day-old track may look fresh to the untrained eye. Also, a hoofprint left in melting snow that quickly refreezes stays cookie-cutter sharp, though the animal that made it is long gone. Conversely, a recently made print drifting in with snow can appear old. Rely on your sense of touch instead. In powder, the edges and midline will set up and feel firm within an hour or two of the animal's passing. Fresh droppings are shiny, soft, and emit an organic, sweetish smell. Fresh lances of urine give to the slightest pressure. Crusty urine streaks, or pellets that crumble when squeezed, mean the trail is cold. Don't forget to use your nose. Elk beds retain a rank, barnyard odor that can fool even an experienced hunter, but a faint, clean scent of elk usually indicates a hot track. I once killed a raghorn in Montana's Bridger Range by cutting his trail after I detected his smell.