Have you any handy tracking tips or kit.

  • Hey Guest, For sale we have Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteel PLEASE LOOK HERE for more information or use the Pay Now button in the sidebar


Jun 26, 2008
Some good stuff there Pict. It's given me some inspiration to try new things.

One piece of kit I've bought recently has already given me a good insight - a trail cam.
I have other commitments which mean I can't be out all the time but I can still get a small insight into what's going on when I'm not there.


Oct 10, 2005
Essex, UK
We now have three trail cams at Woodllife Trails. There's a knack to setting them up or you can easily miss your subject; otherwise they are excellent. As 21 Cent Pict says, it's as handy to know what isn't there as well as what is there.


Jun 26, 2008
Lucky devil you've got three! I don't see myself stopping at one either it's the most addictive thing and feels like Christmas every time I go to check what's on there.
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Tracking Books.
Short list of the best tracking books out there.
Any other reading suggestions would be very welcome. Cheers.

Preben Bang and Preben Dahlstrom.
Animal Tracks and Signs: 1974.
Collins, London. ISBN 0-00-216106-0 ( New Edition forwarded by Ray Mears. ISBN 978-0-19-929997-3 )

The Trackers bible since 1974, Probably the most detailed and comprehensive track and sign identification guide currently in print, covering every major sign group from tracks and gaits to feeding signs, droppings and pellets, homes and shelters, and a short section on collecting and preserving finds.
Without this book no trackers library would be complete.

Brown, Lawrence, Pope.
Animals, Tracks trails and Signs: 1992.
Hamlyn Guide. ISBN 0-600-57444-X

A great field guide that ticks all the boxes. Mammal tracks and trails, Bird tracks, pathways and runs, feeding signs, droppings and bird pellets, skull identification with descriptions of dentition a brief section on field techniques and glossary. Everything a good field guide should be.

Miroslav Bouchner
A Field Guide in Colour to Animal Tracks and Traces: 1982. Hardcover: 272 pages.
Octopus Books Ltd ISBN 0 7064 1 486 1

Just a first class book from start to finish, the illustrations, photographs and descriptions covering gait's are second to none, slightly on the big side as a field guide 21.2 x 16 x 2.6, but as a track reference book, I haven't found anything better. 10/10.

Brown, Ferguson, Lawrence, Lees.
Tracks and Signs of Birds: 2nd Ed. 2009.
Christopher Helm. ISBN 978-0-7136-5382-3

A remarkable work, incredibly detailed study on avian tracks and sign, if birds are your thing look no further, get this book.

Jon Young and Tiffany Morgan
Animal Tracking Basics
Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3326-7

Overlapping the traditional and fundamental tracking skills of observation and interpretation,and crossing over to Holistic tracking, tuning into the natural world with basic exercises designed to develop and refine sensory awareness and intuition. With chapters covering journaling, ecology mapping, animal runs, trailing, aging tracks and sign, birdsong and storytelling and finally a chapter on modern tracking tools cyber-tracker software, camera traps, digital photography and video recording, soot trays and trapping.

Tom Brown, Jr.
Nature Observation and Tracking: 1983.
Berkley Books, NY,. ISBN 978-0-425-09966-7

If you only ever buy one book on tracking, you guessed it, buy this one, from a master tracker Tom Brown Jr.

Tom Brown, Jr.
The Science and Art of Tracking: 1999.
Berkley Books, NY,. ISBN 978-0-425-15772-5

Without question and by far the most advanced and in depth study of track features ever published. A master class in tracking.

Louis Liebenberg.
The Art of Tracking, The Origin of Science: 1995.
David Philip, Publishers. ISBN 0864862938

A neuroanthropological study in hominid and hunter-gatherer evolution and intellect. With chapters covering, Evolution and the origins of tracking. The origin of science and art. Hunter-Gatherers of the Kalahari. Scientific knowledge of spoor. Animal behaviour and spoor interpretation. Estimating the age of spoor. Interpretation of animal activities and behaviour. Divining and hunting magic and principles of tracking. Recognition of signs. Systematic and speculative tracking. Classification of signs, spoor, scent, urine, faeces and saliva, pellets, feeding signs, vocal and auditory signs, visual, incidental and circumstantial signs, blood and skeletal spoor, territorial signs, paths, homes and shelters. Variations between and within animal species and individual animal spoor. Mammal, Bird, Invertebrates, Amphibians, and Reptile spoor. Structure of feet and gaits. Scientific research programmes.

A study in anthropology and so much more. Essential reading for any student of tracking. 10/10.

Jack Kearney.
Tracking a Blueprint for Learning How: 8th Ed 2009.
Pathways Press. ISBN 978-0-9658881-1-0

A dedicated and proven "step by step" system to learning the art of tracking, by former US Boarder Patrol’s Agent Jack Kearny, tracker and instructor.

Military Tracking Books

Bob Carss tracking instructor 22 SAS (Ret) .
The Complete Guide to Tracking: New Rev Ed 2009.
Right Way. ISBN 978-0-7160-2205-3

Comprehensive and detailed, essential reading for any future tracker, from cover to cover, page by page packed full with all the Information, knowledge and skills for the new or advanced tracker. Tried, tested and proven by SF trackers.
Forwarded by the legendary John 'lofty' Wiseman.

David Diaz, acknowledged SF tracking expert.
Tracking, Signs of Man, Signs of Hope: 2005. .
Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1-59228-686-7

Tracking Humans: A Fundamental Approach to Finding Missing Persons, Insurgents, Guerrillas, and Fugitives from the Law, by David Diaz.
I just received this book 26.11.15 and I have to say I'm rather disappointed with this book, I don't have my Signs of Man at hand ATM to do a side by side comparison but my first overriding impression of this title is that it's just the same work as above under a different title. Great book but not worth buying twice.

John D. Hurth
Combat Tracking Guide:2012
Stackpole Books ISBN 978-0-8117-1099-2

J. D. Hurth, U.S. Special Forces (Ret) now chief tracking instructor and president TYR Group LLC Louisiana.

David Scott-Donelan.
Tactical Tracking Operations: 1998.
Paladin Press. ISBN 978-158160003-2

From 1961 David Scott-Donelan served in a TCU of the Rhodesian SAS Selous Scouts. In 1980 he joined the South African SF reconnaissance regiment, before becoming Training Director of a Tactical Tracking Operations School in the United States.
Possibly the best tactical tracking book ever printed .

Tracking books I've yet to read.
Tracker, The Case Files & Adventures of a Professional Mantracker: by Joel Hardin.
Animal Tracks ID and Techniques: by Ian Maxwell.
The Tracking Handbook by Eddie & Perry McGee

Books due for release
Manhunter, The Art of Detection Through Tracking: by Ian Maxwell. release date expected 20th Nov 2015.
Also due for release sometime in the near future,
The Complete Tracking Handbook by Perry McGee & Jamie McGregor.

Animal Tracks ID and Techniques: 2006 by Ian Maxwell.
Animals, Tracks trails and Signs: 1992 by Brown, Lawrence & Pope. The perfect size for a field guide, and only 2 or 3 quid 2nd hand on Amazon.
Animal Tracks and Traces: 1982 by Miroslav Bouchner, European mammals & Birds. A 10 out of 10 reference book.
Tracks Trails and Signs: 1954 by Fred J Speakman.

Free eBooks
The Art of Tracking,the Origin of Science by Louis Liebenberg. & CyberTracke.org http://www.cybertracker.org/downloa...ng-The-Origin-of-Science-Louis-Liebenberg.pdf
The Origin of Science by Louis Liebenberg. & CyberTracker.org http://www.cybertracker.org/downloads/tracking/Liebenberg-2013-The-Origin-of-Science.pdf
A Field Guide to the Animal Tracks of Southern Africa by Louis Liebenberg. & CyberTracker.org http://www.cybertracker.org/downloads/tracking/Liebenberg-1990-Field-Guide-Animal-Tracks.pdf

Other Tracking & Information Sources.

YouTube Tracking Videos.
Animal Tracking form Prints, by Jhon Rhyder. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVzY7DDECD0
Tracking Animals from Scat, by Jhon Rhyder. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz4Q16dmDQA

Tracks and Tracking by Ray Mears. www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OU2PJKdL6c

Visual Tracking Skills - Characteristics of Sign, by Rich Hungerford,Senior Instructor Bush Lore Australia. . www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o9Bn_dLtsM
Visual Tracking Skills - Sketching Tracks, by Rich Hungerford, bushloreoz. www.youtube.com/watch?v=APveZTAFTxI
Visual Tracking Skills - Ageing Sign, by Rich Hungerford, bushloreoz. www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSEvFeYoW70
Visual Tracking Skills - Classification of Sign, by Rich Hungerford, bushloreoz. www.youtube.com/watch?v=lih1fRuno5Y
Search & Rescue Visual Tracking Exercise, by Rich Hungerford, bushloreoz. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrblfMwICig

The Tracking Stick by Peter Friebel, Survival Tracker. www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRqrPkN0U9k
Making a Point for Tracking in Search and Rescue by Peter Friebel, Survival Tracker. www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aIzmjxVY-4

From the Art of Tracking series by Snow Walker Bushcraft.
The Art of Tracking - Gaits: the Walk, by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh7oGiQswIo
The Art of Tracking - Gaits: the Amble, by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIgd34IkxNU
The Art of Tracking - Gaits: the Lope, by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPXPhAJIRqA
The Art of Tracking - Gaits: the Bound, by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfpZ0ks3M64
The Art of Tracking - Gaits: the Trot by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYTj3U155Ko
The Art of Tracking - Gaits: the Gallop, by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j4PAnAVsPg
The Art of Tracking - Track Measurements, by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G-j60M3Mqo
Basic Tracking Kit by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsSnJrmchss
Basic Casting Kit by Snowalker 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJEE94HtpxY
The Tracking Stick by Snowalker13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkUmW_VbXWc
Tracking Box aka Spoor Pit by Snowalker13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RXlcJRhujM

Tracking -Interpretation Skills by Primitive Skills https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3_zcPBxPYU
Tracking - Aging Techniques by Primitive Skills https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERwTts3P_k4

Modern Visual Tracking: Presented by X Selous Scout, and world renowned tactical tracking legend David Scott-Donelan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS-SgkZiRP4

Last Journey to Sarawak: IBAN TRACKERS, A documentary on the story of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers of Borneo who fought in the Malayan Emergency 1948-1960.

Tracks, Tracking & ID websites.
BCUK Links thread for tracks and sign. www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=75862
Princeton University. Outdoor Action Guide to Animal Track, https://outdooraction.princeton.edu/...nimal-tracking
Wildwood Tracking USA. www.wildwoodtracking.com/index.html
Tracks of North America. www.naturetracking.com
Skull ID Website. http://www.skullsite.co.uk/lists.htm (TeeDee)

Forensic Footwear Search Database's.
SoleMate 54 Footwear Database, SoleMate FPX & SICAR 6, from Foster + Freeman. https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&r...UQf-O0Ed3EoH6zJki9d2CQ&bvm=bv.105814755,d.d24
Raven Technology: (NFD) National Footwear Database. https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&r...Jd652HvxONVOKB0OA&bvm=bv.105841590,bs.2,d.bGg

Mobile App's
iTrack Wildlife - Animal Tracks app, US based ID's app's, available on Apple App Store or Google Play, I really don't know about this one, might be good, might be bad, I was just about to download it for a look but @ 12 QUID "Errrr....No.
MyNature Animal Tracks Apps: for iPhones and Android.

Tracking Movies.
The Tracker (2002) starring David Gulpilil, directed by Rolf de Heer.
Tracker (2011) starring Ray Winston and Temuera Morrison, directed by Ian Sharp. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir2lnmFSn9E
The Hunted (2003) starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, directed by William Friedkin, technical adviser Tom Brown jr.
Last edited:

Mick w.

Aug 20, 2011
west yorkshire, uk
How was the 'Animal Tracking Basics' book, 21CP?
I'm just getting interested in this, find it fascinating. Only trouble for me is that I've usually got two dogs with me so I think they run over a lot of tracks before I get to them! I was trying to track down that Ian Maxwell book about animal ids and techniques but can't find it anywhere.
One frustrating thing I have noticed is that sometimes you only see the one footprint, and in mud and so on, I would have thought there'd be more; why does that happen, or am I just not looking hard enough?
Another thing - any recommendations for a handy, lightweight and POCKET SIZED field guide which deals with mainly UK wildlife?
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Hey Mick w.

Just getting in to the Jon Young now, just got it recently so cant really comment on it yet.
As for UK Tracks the Brown, Lawrence, Pope. Animals, Tracks trails and Signs is the guide I use, very handy size for the pack or pocket but the Preben Bang and Preben Dahlstrom. Animal Tracks and Signs: is a classic. So it’s a 50/50 choice really. With winter coming up there should be plenty tracks to see in the snow soon. failing that get down to the foreshore or in to a sand quarry great places for tracks, you can learn a lot just looking back over you’re own tracks or the dogs. Bob Carss The Complete Guide to Tracking: is a great beginner’s book well worth getting as it covers all the major sign types and goes on to some real advanced stuff to.
Happy tracking Bro.
Last edited:

Mick w.

Aug 20, 2011
west yorkshire, uk
Cheers for that. I've been reading that Prebens one, very interesting. I even started making a tracking stick, nothing special really just a lightweight walking stick kinda thing with a metric measuring scale carved/dremelled into it, and some elastic rings, an alpine spike and rubber ferrule for keeping quiet. Who knows, I may stick a leather wrist strap in it if I can work out a way to do it nicely. Mebbe a feather or two, a wood spirit..?!
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
The oldest trick in the book, and probably the least effective.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this one lately and would highly recommend giving it a go.

After practising basic deception techniques for a some time now, false soil scatter, fake pointers and brushing that sort of thing, the more I practise the more obvious it becomes that deception techniques have been employed, on snow or in sandy areas the track features that is almost impossible to reproduce or disguise are the correct angles of force, the "toe dig and fracture plate" at the front of a normal track just under the toes or the ball of the foot if travailing a little faster, Ignore the soil scatter which is all too easy to fake with just a light flick of the toe, just look for the toe dig and if its absent you’ll know there’s probably something amiss.
In long grass where the toe pressure is bound by the root web and the fracture plate is not visible try to feel for the narrower heel cut or flat spot impression, it will be at the front of the track rather than the rear.
The primary indicators to walking backwards are, step pattern shortens dramatically, straddle widens and becomes splay footed as normal balance is very hard to maintain. Walking backwards and trying to retrace your steps exactly is practically impossible and just blatantly messy.
If you see any tracks in this condition your quarry has grabbed the opportunity that presented itself, retraced their steps and jumped off the track over the last big rock or tree trunk by the side of the trail, next ether wrapping their boots in some cloth to leave as faint a trail as possible, or, and this is probably where walking backwards is employed most effectively, ether crouching down and by hand or using a short stick, slowly, step by step walking backwards gradually replacing any obvious pointers in the vegetation and using the obstacle to screen their new trail and moved away at a 90 degree angle to their original heading.

By itself walking backwards is a fairly useless ploy that only server to alert the tracker to the fact that the quarry is ether, sign conscious, or possibly aware they are being tracked,however walking backwards on favourable ground and used in conjunction with a second or third deception, say stone hopping combined with multiple false headings with perhaps some not to obvious brushing, may improve the chances of delaying a persistent tracker.


. .

Quote: David Scott-Donelan. Tactical tracking Operations.
( Any tracker fooled by this ruse should hand in his badge and hang his head in shame.)

Here the direction of travel is opposite to the direction of interlaced vegetation and pointers.
If you feel for the toe in this track you would actually find a heel impression.
. .

No toe dig, loss of balance casing the slight shuffle and double heel print and a build up of soil from the pressure wave at the left side of boot, a widened straddle and massively foreshortened stride........ False soil scatter walking backwards.

Normal clean sharp track with steady forward momentum, toe dig in correct area, soil scatter in proper position and with a small stone at the heel dislodged and kicked and rolled in the direction of travel.........

Of course the best thing about attempting this exercise is purely practical, hands on in the dirt experience.

. .

Deceptions, now I've tried them and know them a little better, great fun.
Give it a go and experiment.
Fool me once,...........is once to many.
Last edited:
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Deductive Skills.

I’ve been struggling for some time now when following the very subtle sign left by small light weight animals, hence the reason I like trying to track big heavy clumsy humans. I know I’m still a poor tracker, but at least while following humans I have started using deductive skills. Fortunately people are quite predictable creatures of habit generally.

To Quote:
Tom Brown,Jr. The Science and Art of Tracking.Page 127.
(Who knows better what you are feeling than you? So "know thyself" first. You have digits, you have lobes, and you have toe ridges,just like all the other animals. Dont bite off more than you can chew by beginning your practice on animals.)

Questions like
The other day while I was walking up a wide forest track covered with snow, I was looking left and right just to see what was going on in the woods. Looking back over my own tracks, as I do a lot , I could see my tracks were weaving from side to side or from left to right if you prefer, when I was looking in one direction I would drift over in that direction, So now I’m wondering, is it possible to tell if there is a difference between tracks that were made during the day and tracks made at night, you can probably picture in your mind the trail of someone walking alone at night, nervous or anxious, maybe lost, and frightened by a sound, imagine your following a track and all of a sudden the footprints spin round, questions, questions, what do I do now ? Walk over in that direction and look for some tracks or sign, some reason or indication for that spin, have I just started tracking sounds? Questions, questions.

We are already tracking across time and space. Recently while out following some tracks I ended up on the trail of a man and his dog out for a walk, the man was walking along in a reasonably strait line but his dog was running away from him and straight back to him, I could see where the man's right foot spun round and slid a little to throw the stick, I knew what was happening before I even went over to confirm where the dog tracks skidded to a stop and look at the hole where the stick had landed, but what I liked most of all was when the dog returned with the stick and handed or rather gave it over reluctantly, the dog would then spin round in tight little circles waiting for the next throw.
Hey I didint think about it at the time, but if I'd had a better look round I might have found his bark!
No prizes for guessing what the dog thinking.

If I was as smart as Stalking Wolf I could even tell you the color and breed.

To Quote:
Tom Brown,Jr.The Science and Art of Tracking. Page 189.
(Yes, emotion and even thoughts can be read in the pressure releases. Here again you must use yourself as the first study subject, for you intimatly know what you are feeling and thinking as you make the tracks.)
Last edited:
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Hi platyrhynchos.
Cheers Bro you’re welcome.

Feel free to add any of your own ideas, thoughts, images or artwork if you want, the more the better. There are plenty of animals in Slovenia we just don’t get here in the UK, chamois, Ibex, Lynx, Jackal and Brown Bear just to mention a few, so any images of tracks or sign and you’re more than welcome.

To start with,what have you got hidden away in that Ljubljana Marsh?

Later Bro.
Last edited:


Mar 13, 2009
Thanks alot 21st century pict and all others! I gonna have a go at focusing more on the tracking part when I'm out in the woods now. I live very near forrests with moose, fox, reindeer, hare, squirrel, bear... I think :lmao:. I pick much berrys in the fall and by doing that I've been trained to see tracks of humans/animals who might been there before me and picked my berries! I find your texts very interresting especially the part about if one can tell a night track from a day track by the pattern from the afraid of the dark stuff. I have the Preben Bang book and gonna have a closer look at it.
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Hi Tjurved.
Cheers and no worries.
I found this reference in Jack Kearney excellent and highly recommended book which you may find very interesting.

TRACKING A Blueprint for Learning How; By, Jack Kearney.
Chapter 10 Following a Non-Visible Trail, page 145-147.

"Quote" (Keep in mind that conditions which existed when your quarry was there may have changed by the time you arrive at that point.)
(Don’t jump to conclusions about a person’s mental condition just because you cannot explain their actions.)
(In the area of jumping to conclusions I have had inexperienced trackers tell me that the trail they had cut indicated that the person we were seeking was in abject panic. They supported their contention by pointing out that the subject was crashing pell-mell through heavy brush when there were unobstructed routes only a few feet to one side. Upon examining the breaks in the brush it was evident that they were probably caused between sunset and dawn. Remembering that there had been absolutely no moon during the night, led to the more accurate conclusion that the sharpest eyed person in the world could not have seen well enough to have found his way to those unobstructed paths.)
(As a general rule, the fact that a person crashes through drush,bumps into objects, allows their leg to contact a cactus, or trips over an exposed root strongly indicates that they are walking at night rather than they have suddenly become addle brained.)
(A person shows panic or deteriorated mental condition most strongly by abandoning articles necessary for his survival or comfort. If you find no such articles along a person’s trail you do not need to get alarmed about his possible metal condition.)
Jack Kearney. "TRACKING A Blueprint for Learning How".;

The Preben Bang and Preben Dahlstrom book is an all time classic you can’t go wrong there.
We have some introduced, but wild Reindeer on the Cairngorm Mountains but an image of some Moose, Bear, and Wolf, tracks would be ace,If you can get them.
I know there are only around about 200 Lynx left in Sweden so the very best of luck there.
All the best for 2012 and Happy tracking Bro.
Last edited:
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
I thought I would just share these references to tracking.

Rob Roy MacGregor, His Life and Times. by W H Murray.

" (He had now to make advances in weaponry and tracking skills.)”Short paragraph blah blah blah” "broadsword,” “skill at arms” blah blah blah Continued” (Many days and nights together had to be spent on the hills hunting and tracking, which meant careful, close observation of all wildlife, weather, landforms, sun and stars, the conscious, constant use of eyes, nose, and the sense of touch in response to wind shifts, until the four senses remained alert all daylong, without conscious effort; recording, warning, informing, guiding, in ways now lost to man in the Highlands where by comparison he is now only half alive. No compasses were used for navigation in the mist nor watches for time. In traversing the hills and moors in mist, direction was held by the wind, and even the lightest air sufficed when men were sensitive to its touch on skin, and from the sun by gradations of light in the cloud, to which Lowlanders were blind. The flight of birds could bring news. The slow, heavy flight of a heron, reluctantly moving from one bay to another by Loch Katrine, differed subtly from its more purposeful search for a fishing ground, and gave early warning of man’s hidden approach. High on the hills, the scuttle of ptarmigans, the quick twist of a hind’s head, the line taken by a darting hare or suddenly moving goats or ponies, were seen at long distance by the sharp eyes of Rob and his clansmen; they knew in every detail the lie of the land and could judge the source of disturbance. Their sight had a keenness rarely matched now by men who read much. Their powers of observation by the four senses were trained by the necessities of a life lived at one with nature, free of artificial aids that blunt them.) “short paragraph blah blah blah continued” (Some of the side-effects of acutely seeing everything that grew, lived, and moved in the wildlands seem nowadays to be startling. One was men’s tracking skill over grass and heather. ”Tex ref 10” which once trodden retained its downpress for a long time before it rose enough to be undetectable by a trained eye. Stolen cattle could be tracked within days of their passing; even men who had taken refuge on the hills were occasionally followed and found by foot-trace.) "
Chapter 5 Youth,The years of initiation.1685-1687 p 58-59. reference,10,. Burt, Letters from the North of Scotland. 1730.

Rob Roy MacGregor, His Life and Times. W H Murray,.
June 1717, John Murray 1st Duke of Atholl sent the expert tracker Alasdair Stewart of Innerslanie in secret to discover the hiding place of Rob Roy MacGregor.
Alasdair Stewart successfully tracked Rob Roy down at Monachyle Tuarach within five days.
chapter 19 The Duel With Atholl page 231-233-237.

From Neil Munro’s fictional book John Splendid.
After fleeing the battle of InverLochy 1645, this is the intelligence John Splendid gained from the trail marker found lying on the keystone of the Bridge of Orchy.
“” Three sprigs of gale, a leaf of ivy from the bridge arch where it grew in dark green sprays of glossy sheen and a bare twig of oak standing up at a slant, were held down on the parapet by a peeled willow withy, one end of which pointed in the direction of the glen –the whole held together by two stones,. The message was clear enough to him. The three sprigs of gale meant three men of the Campbell clan; the oak meant a Stewart who was always reminding the Campbell’s that his race was royal; the ivy leaf meant a Gordon; the peeled branch of willow meant men in a hurry and the twig of oak pointed to the position of the sun. Five fugitives of these names hurrying south over the Bridge of Orchy at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. “”

Not strictly tracking but the angled oak twig pointing to the sun clearly indicates certain knowledge of sign.

note: Long before the modern concept of standard clan tartans a Highland clan would distinguish themselves in the field by the wearing of a plant badge.

Coincidently: The Bridge of Orchy is a military bridge and wasn’t built until 1751.

I’ve tried tracking in the hills over heather, once I was sitting on a patch of short dry bog cotton scoping up the hill across a glen for about 20 min, I got up and walked away about ten yards then turned round and walked back to have a look for the flat area where I was sitting and, nothing. I've tried walking backwards across long heather for a short distance and just watched the heather instantly bounce back to its original position.
Last edited:


Jan 7, 2012
I have also just read this thread and quite fascinating it is. I thought I know a bit, now I know I don't. I learnt a bit from my father, who learnt for his who was a poacher/gamekeeper before the war. We used to go out and track stuff when I was a child, sadly I did not follow this through into adulthood. however now when walking the dogs (I know not the best thing to do, as they do more damage than there nose is good for!) I come across so much on the local trails and want to know more . I've just ordered the preben bang book and an old one by Hugh Falkus, mainly for nostalgic reasons and i used sit for hours in the school library with it.

stange how life travels in circles!
Mar 15, 2011
on the heather
Still working on the old deductive skills.

So far I’m beginning to find that the best way to improve on deductive skills and extrapolate the maximum amount of information from the sign available is to eliminate as much of the guesswork as possible. The core tracking skills “gained over time” required to accurately read and age sign, must be fundamental to the ability to analyse and reconstruct events in a chronological order and potentially hypothesize and predict the quarries next move can surely only come through experience. So it’s all observation, education, practise and trial and error, therefore it’s just get the head down, put in the dirt time and get the experience, hopefully then at least we can move on to a more systematic assumption, or at the very least a more intuitive stab in the dark.

The other day while out practising the usual stuff, estimating group numbers, working on physical description, approximate height, gender, working towards appearance and traits, some of the basic skills that I’m just getting the hang off now.

. .

Quite rare to get some physical description from top sign.
Pack impression at sit spot.

Impressions from small utility belt pouches at sit spot.

As a friend of mine pointed out once, we are 100% right on what we think things are when we go out alone.
Well truer words were never spoken.

Hands up, my total rookie mistake.
Recently while walking in the snow following a set of tracks along a road, I took all the usual measurements but since there was a very clear boot print in the snow for some reason (inexperience) I compared the boot print alongside mine, QED height x7 length of foot, thought to myself perhaps 1 or 2 sizes smaller than mine, and instantly just assumed a couple of inches shorter than me maybe four inches max. Wrong!!!

I put the short stride and splay down to either carrying a load or tiredness, big mistake.

Quote; Jack Kerarney; Tracking, A Blueprint for learning How. Chapter 9, Track Identification and Description. Page 136 Shoe Sizes. (All long timers bristle when they hear a track described as “a size 9 track” or “about a size 10”.There is no way in the world to accurately tell the shoe size of a track by its overall measurement.)

About half an hour later I caught up with the boots, and the woman about 5’6" in them. Women are generally described as walking “pigeon toed” Yea right! But anyway a new lesson learnt.
The old saying; Anyone that has never made a mistake has never tried...

Bob Carss; possibly summarises deductive skills best in his excellent and highly recommended book, The Complete Guide to Tracking; New, Revised, Edition. Chapter 15, page 172.
Observe, Remember, Select and analyse, Deduce and comprehend.
Last edited:


Oct 10, 2005
Essex, UK
Still working on the old deductive skills.

So far I’m beginning to find that the best way to improve on deductive skills and extrapolate the maximum amount of information from the sign available is to eliminate as much of the guesswork as possible. The core tracking skills “gained over time” required to accurately read and age sign, must be fundamental to the ability to analyse and reconstruct events and potentially hypothesize and predict the quarries next move can surely only come through experience.

Not quite right IMHO but you are very much on the roght lines. It actually comes through the deduction processes itself.
Last edited:

Hultafors Outdoor knife for Sale

We have a a number of Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteels for sale.

You can see more details here in this thread OUTDOOR KNIVES The price is £27 posted to the UK. Pay via the paypal button below.