Laying signs for people to follow

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Tony

White bear (Admin)
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I was just thinking about this and wondering what you all use, or think you would use/Do to lay signs for people you needed to follow you. There's the usual arrow made of stones etc but I'm interested in anything people have to say on this, I bet there's some hilarious ones you've seen of made...
 

wicca

Native
Oct 19, 2008
1,065
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South Coast
Long ago when the Romany people moved from place to place and wheeled traffic on the country roads was so light that any sign left was unlikely to be disturbed, it was common to leave sign, often no more than a clod of earth/grass or a small branch with leaves on in the centre of the road at a junction.
Obviously the trick was, when using a branch/twig with leaves on was to use a tree which was not at the immediate roadside. So an Ash twig where the road was lined with Hawthorn and so on. This cancelled out any accidental branch fall from nearby trees.
These signs were known as Patrin (not sure of the spelling but that's how it was spoken) and they allowed family members following the leading wagon at a distance to take the correct route. It was common then to travel unobtrusively as individual wagons often at night to avoid official harassment. Patrin kept the family together..:)

My Father when working on the various farms we stayed on would leave patrin for us kids so that we could find him, or at least which field he was working in. He would put something on the gatepost, usually Hedge Parsley or something easily seen so that we could find him during working hours if we needed to.
There were also different signs left on house gates or nearby which indicated whether the house owner would buy at the door or if they were unfriendly, but these signs were eventually hijacked and taken into use by the old 'Tramp' fraternity of which there were many in the era of which I speak (1950's)

Patrin, may possibly come from the Romany word Pattin which means 'Leaf' but That's just a guess on my behalf.
 

boatman

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 20, 2007
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Our children were introduced to patterans while we walked in Savernake Forest. Long stick and shorter stick or sticks crossing them is what we used. Long stick for direction short sticks how many people in the party. When very young our eldest didn't quite get it and tried to lay a continuous trail of twigs at junctions at first.
 

Bishop

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Jan 25, 2014
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After the police came around the house looking for kids who had run through wet concrete at a nearby building site, mother took all the dirty boots out of the sink and burnt our initials into the soles with a hot knife :sulkoff:
 

Willcurrie

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Aug 2, 2015
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Argyll
At the weekend I followed a forest track that was a dead end with the intention of continuing through the forest to a location I had identified on a map. A couple of hundred meters in I realised that I wasn't the first person to do this as I noticed small pine boughs had been cut and laid/dropped on my route about every 20m. Once I'd noticed them it was a very easy 'trail' to follow. I do (read did) occasionally blaze trees at key points when I'm pushing through plantations, I'm not one for sticking to paths, in case I need to follow my path in when I'm heading out. In future though I'm going to use this dropping boughs method. I feel much better about that.
 

wicca

Native
Oct 19, 2008
1,065
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South Coast
" I noticed small pine boughs had been cut and laid/dropped on my route about every 20m. Once I'd noticed them it was a very easy 'trail' to follow"....:)

The subtle diffence between patrin and a marked trail made me smile. The Gypsy left an isolated mark as a pointer for direction, usually at junctions, forks in the highway or anywhere at which alternative routes presented themselves to people following the leader. Leaving an easily followed trail was the very last thing they had in mind. So, follow the road..until a sign is seen. No sign....no alteration..:D

Secret trails and staying 'below the parapet' was a way of life. If my older Brother and I had been up to no good, scrumping or suchlike and were chased by anyone, the one thing we did not do was run back to the wagons. If we did we'd have been in more bother than if caught by the pursuers..
Modern folk have taken to using the word 'stealth' I understand...been around for years that word..
lol-030.gif
.....
lol-030.gif
 

Tony

White bear (Admin)
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I love the hidden message one, it's fine if yo've no idea or brain enough to work it out but it's not very hidden, well, not for long :D
 
This is interesting. I wondered why you would do such a thing, but now I think I know it is because many people in your countries can't track maybe?

In winter we leave easy tracks in snow and our camp fires can maybe seen long distance.

In summer it is very easy to follow families on the move as we know roughly where they intend to go and can simply follow their trail - they do not have to make this obvious.

A single hunter or person on their own in summer is harder to track but most folk always leave something to show their passing whether they think they do or don't. So unless they are trying not to be followed there is no need for them to help others follow them.
 

Toddy

Mod
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Jan 21, 2005
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Our land is very wet Joe. Folks have used roadways and footpaths, laid and relaid them, for thousands of years. It's easier to walk on the path than off most of the time.
The roads don't show up the passing of individuals, is what I'm trying to say really.

It means that when we do go off path, unless we know who and where they're headed, that we often don't recognise that others have been there or know to follow them.
Our children don't grow up doing that either.
Like Wicca says, follow the road until there's something 'just' out of place enough that you think about where you're going and change direction.

Dad used to shove a short stick with three leaves on it into the ground for us to follow a route. I don't think we ever did it in need, but just him saying 'come and find me' :) when I was very little. Always so that I could see two sticks at once. I had good eyesight then :) I could easily see several hundred yards sharply.
My Granny said she had to be careful what sticks she used, or the blooming things rooted and grew :D

M
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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In the long-running Canadian(?) TV series "ManTracker" with Terry Grant, I was always amazed at how much of a track the "prey" left. Try as they might (walking backwards, false trails), something about each step gave them away, time and time again.
 

boatman

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 20, 2007
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It is a very funny thing that in demonstrations of dogs following a trail by scent and humans tracking are shown as brilliant but when someone is lost in the bush or woods in Australia, Britain or anywhere else they are often not found by tracking, in fact very rarely. Same as the vaunted infra-red heat detecting devices that police helicopters use and show pursuing villains with 100% success except when it comes to finding an alzheimer victim who has wandered off.
 

Quixoticgeek

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Aug 4, 2013
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This is interesting. I wondered why you would do such a thing, but now I think I know it is because many people in your countries can't track maybe?

There is an element of people in the UK not being able to track. The reasons that we can't are numerous, but would largely be due to the fact that we don't learn those skills growing up, they died out many generations ago.

But then there is the issue of numbers. We tend to walk on existing paths (rights of way), roads, and byways. This given our population means that you don't tend to find one track. On many of the areas of walk in if you tried to track me just a few hours later you wouldn't be able to because my footprints and sign would be obscured and overlayed by that of the dozens of dog walkers and other hikers who have passed that way. When you have several million hectares of wilderness, if you find a person's sign it's easier to follow their track, you're unlikely to have to discern which of the 300 tracks is the right one...

In winter we leave easy tracks in snow and our camp fires can maybe seen long distance.

In winter our tracks our washed away quickly leaving nothing behind.

In summer it is very easy to follow families on the move as we know roughly where they intend to go and can simply follow their trail - they do not have to make this obvious.

In summer the number of people passing along the footpaths and byways is so high that working out one person's sign from any other is next to impossible. That and the fact everything is so dry means that there are no foot prints to follow.

A single hunter or person on their own in summer is harder to track but most folk always leave something to show their passing whether they think they do or don't. So unless they are trying not to be followed there is no need for them to help others follow them.

Oh I'd love for you to come to Kent and try and track me...

J
 

Quixoticgeek

Full Member
Aug 4, 2013
2,483
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Europe
I was just thinking about this and wondering what you all use, or think you would use/Do to lay signs for people you needed to follow you. There's the usual arrow made of stones etc but I'm interested in anything people have to say on this, I bet there's some hilarious ones you've seen of made...

When the Kent group were trying to meet in some local woods, despite me giving them a 10 figure grid reference, and then marking on the foot path an arrow into the woods by stabbing my walking poles into the ground to make dots, they only found me by the wandering around in circles until we collided method...

It is a very funny thing that in demonstrations of dogs following a trail by scent and humans tracking are shown as brilliant but when someone is lost in the bush or woods in Australia, Britain or anywhere else they are often not found by tracking, in fact very rarely. Same as the vaunted infra-red heat detecting devices that police helicopters use and show pursuing villains with 100% success except when it comes to finding an alzheimer victim who has wandered off.

It's a question of timing, and of conditions.

There is a time, particularly around twilight on a summers evening, when FLIR is next to useless. A clothed human body against a hill side just doesn't stand out in such conditions due to there being insufficient contrast between the human and the background.

You then get the issue of a dementia patient who's wandered off into the middle of nowhere tends to rapidly get hypothermic, making their thermal signature harder to track.

On the subject of dogs again it's a question of time. A dog may be able to be given a scent object and then follow my trail upto a few hours after I passed that way. But what if it's 12 hours? or 24 hours after I walked down that path? In our rain? with other people walking the paths?

Search dogs are used by SAR in the UK, and they are very effective, but the way they work and the job they do is far removed from the demonstrations you talk about.

J
 

TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
This is interesting. I wondered why you would do such a thing, but now I think I know it is because many people in your countries can't track maybe?

In winter we leave easy tracks in snow and our camp fires can maybe seen long distance.

In summer it is very easy to follow families on the move as we know roughly where they intend to go and can simply follow their trail - they do not have to make this obvious.

A single hunter or person on their own in summer is harder to track but most folk always leave something to show their passing whether they think they do or don't. So unless they are trying not to be followed there is no need for them to help others follow them.


Hi Joe , I for one would love to see some photos of your natural environment where you reside and any tracking photos you care to share.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
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Bit of fresh cut stick, secateurs and just do diagonal cuts so a few little oval discs fall off just coming upto and then onto the positive leg of the intersection.

You can cut longer lengths but its just a waste of stick and the oval discs land with a light coloured wood section facing up, you can usually tell a freshly cut one from one that's a day old so its also a time stamp.
 

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