|Tracking: Dirt Time is the Key
Tom Brown Jr.
Recently, my Washington State Tracker Association went on their
first mock tracking rescue mission. One of the members laid a trail
across the landscape, then the association was called out to find
this lost person. Within 7 hours, trying to follow every track and
shred of evidence, the association found the person they were
looking for. When the news reached me, I was elated, not only
because they found the person and followed every track, but in less
than a year have grown from people who could hardly read the ground
to a viable lifesaving force.
Unfortunately, some members of the association were not as
pleased with their tracking ability as I was. My next trip out to Washington was
filled with complaints that they were not satisfied and wanted more instruction
to help them move faster. I explained that in a life and death situation, it
would not be important to follow every track like in a practice session, thus
expediting the find time. Still they weren't satisfied. Then I asked if they had
mastered everything I had taught them in the classes. Of course the answer was
no. This brings me to the essence of this article.
There is no fast and easy way to learn tracking nor is there
any substitute for dirt time. In my tracking lectures I give much information
that has taken me years to learn and study, thus giving the tracking student an
edge. No longer is it necessary to study the beginning points so thoroughly,
since the lecture takes many years off of the student tracker's learning time.
Tracker students begin at the point that took me at least ten years to get to,
yet they do not always fully realize this.
Dirt time is essential and no matter how far advanced we get
we must spend time, each day, on our hands and knees. This is the only
way we can increase our tracking speed and learn to read the tracks. There is no
easy shortcut in tracking, only a dedication to the mystery of the track, and to
practice time each day. Unless this practice time is met, it would be very
difficult to show the students any advanced techniques or skills. The students
must master the fundamentals.
We have devised a course now that combines Nature Observation
and Advanced Tracking. It is geared to give the student much needed dirt time.
In this week long course, the student will work out his tracking problems,
search for more information from the tracks, trails, and landscape, and learn to
see more of his environment that once escaped his senses. Unlike the standard
courses, most of the learning time is spent in the field, practicing
techniques of tracking and nature observation.
Take heart, Washington Tracker Association; I appreciate the
dedication and sacrifices you have made to make your association what it is
today. I am very pro d of you, and quite a bit jealous of the speed at which you
have learned to track.
If any student in other parts of the country is interested in
joining or creating a Tracker Association, please contact me for details.
Tracker Associations are organizations set up to find lost people, promote the
skills of tracking, and work together as a unit in a true sense of brotherhood.