by Tom Brown Jr.We have an expression here at the Farm when students or
instructors are learning and practicing tracking. It is called "the wall", and
to the uninitiated visitor it must sound strange when one of the students say that they
can't wait until they hit the wall. Most people ask themselves why anyone would want to
get to the point in tracking where one can go no farther, and love his predicament.
My students and instructors now the importance of pushing themselves to the wall when
tracking. The easy tracks teach you nothing for it is only when we get to the tracks that
we can no longer see that we begin to learn anything. My cardinal rule is not to skip
track when learning how to track, but find every track. All too often it is so easy to
skip over an extremely difficult track and go on to the next easiest one, but this kind of
tracking teaches you absolutely nothing.
So many good trackers easily fall into the category of not putting themselves up
against the wall. Sometimes years will pass before they realize that they have stood still
in their development, and they wonder why. The problem is usually that they skipped to
easy tracks when they should have been concentrating on the most difficult tracks they
could find. Only in this way can a tracker excel in his chosen art. That is why my
trackers are looking forward to the wall. They know that only when they find the most
difficult track will they learn something. Isn't the wall important in any phase of life
with any skill, relationship, or emotion we are trying to master?
It is also important to track the most difficult animals you can find in your area.
Stalking Wolf once told me that if I wanted to be a good man tracker I should track
coyote, and if I wanted to be a good coyote tracker I should track mice. This concept is
so very important because when you can track mice, inspects, and toads, larger tracks are
so much easier to see and follow. This is just another form of hitting the wall and
learning from it.