HomePublicationsThe Tracker MagazineVol 1, No. 1, Nov 1981

The Tracker Magazine - Vol 1 No. 1, Nov 1981

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.


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