HomeTracker SchoolClass Summaries

Expert Tracking course

October 1998
Brief summary by Walter Muma


The Tracker Trail website has no official connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever.

The recent Expert Tracking course was well attended, with 85 people. I had expected more, since the last time Tom taught this course was 10 years ago, and previously 10 years before that.

Some very new concepts were taught, including some that Tom has never taught to anyone before. One of these is "wave concentrics". Briefly, this is the idea that soil behaves like a very viscous liquid. Therefore, when an animal steps on the soil and makes a track, it creates waves similar to those created when a pebble is dropped into a pond. These waves can be seen long after the track itself has filled in. They also have their own micro and macro pressure releases, although we didn’t get into that. These even occur in forest debris – in fact, on all surfaces.

We did a lot of work with pressure releases, including deer and human feet. We got the opportunity to find out some very private information about senior instructor Joe Lau, as we analysed the pressure releases that he left behind for us to map out one night.

One main difference in this course from the Advanced Tracking course was that in the previous class, we were usually given a set of tracks to follow, usually the beginning and the end of a trail, and it was up to us to find the tracks in between. In Expert Tracking, we usually had to find our own set of tracks to follow, even fox tracks in the night. This was actually very good, since it gave us practice for when we go home and there’s no convenient Tom Brown standing around to find a set of tracks for us to follow!

We also did some speed tracking, group tracking, fugitive tracking, lost child tracking and counter tracking (hiding tracks), and Tom showed us how to make "trackless mocassins".

We spent a good couple of hours on our stomachs in an area Tom called "Satan’s Carpet" looking for the 5 pads of a red squirrel track on a bed of pine needles. After that we were "ready" to find the two front paws of a mouse track on hard, spongy sand, in an area called "The Plains of Frustration". We were also given the task of finding rabbit tracks on dried blueberry leaves under briers, in the "Trail to Hell". Very subtle stuff.

We learned to track in "clusters", which is seeing a group of tracks as a whole. This gives the tracker a better overall picture of what is going on, and speeds up the tracking process. We learned how to skip past tracks as well. Combined with this was teaching on the influence of other animals on the tracks of each other, and how that shows up in the tracks.

There was also a lot of tracking philosophy interwoven into all of the lessons.

All in all, a very worthwhile, interesting course.

This website has no official or informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever


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