Tracker. The very word evokes images of buckskin-clad braves crouching over the ground, carefully studying the signs before them—a part of history. But the modern world has not put behind it the need for the earthy business of tracking. Such skills are still routinely used by the military, rescue personnel, and law enforcement, as well as by hunters and people living at subsistence level throughout the world.
The real problem with tracking is that it is very difficult to find complete tracks, and even if your enemy does not try to hide or disrupt them, it is difficult to find full footprints. This does not mean that without full footprints you cannot track your foe. You will use all kinds of indicators, called “signs.” These are the clues of your prey’s presence that can barely be seen. Finding, identifying and following signs is an art in itself, and you will need much more than this article to master it.
But to give you an outline, it is all based on visual tracking to identify the quarry’s gait and its tracks. This is the case whether your quarry is a human, a bird or four-legged prey.
In the old days, most trackers used a tracking stick, but now most top track- ers use a metal measuring tape to look for track signs and to measure the stride length. Remember that human footsteps have three phases—the contact, the mid- stance and the propulsion phase—and that each will leave unique markings. Learn to differentiate footprint styles (and each phase) so you can better identify each prey you’re tracking.
And if tracking humans, do not forget your own security as your foe may try to ambush you. Take your time and observe carefully the area in front of you with your binoculars before continuing the tracking. If you take your time, take a close look at your map and man-track correctly, you can predict what his path will be. Then find a way to cut him off, overpass him and ambush him.
Even though reading books may give you a taste of what tracking is all about, you will need a good course and must spend many hours in the field before you are able to read the signs.
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