Those who teach and write about tracking often refer to the “art and science” of it. Tracking engages our feelings and intuition, which are associated with art. It also requires evidence-based reasoning, which is associated with science. This training uses a systematic, scientific approach as a pathway that leads more and more to the art of tracking.
There is reason to think that people who grew up among hunters have already developed an intuition for how and where to see the animals we trail, and the more experience they have, the stronger their intuition. This training is designed, though, with everyone in mind, including those who have grown up without any prior experience at all. Its step-by-step method is intended to bring all students into an intuitive relationship with animals and landscapes. Those who come with strong intuition must not ignore it but may discover useful tools to help improve their skills.
The purpose of this Introductory section of Trailing Wildlife is for you to locate a place where you can practice trailing regularly for 30-60 minutes. Beginners are liable not to go far in that time, in which case space restrictions are probably less of an issue than the presence of wildlife species you can reasonably practice trailing.
There are 8 exercises, which are meant to be done at one site. The intention is to do one exercise for each day that you explore the site, and for your eight-day exploration to be as comprehensive as possible, considering your limited time. So, unless trails take you to the same place over and over, try to get around the site as much as you can rather than returning to the same place. Each exercise can be done in 20-30 minutes. Take more time, if you like. Additionally, please spend 5-10 minutes completing a Journal for each exercise. You can download the Introductory journal here.
If you do decide in the middle of the eight days that a site is not for you, after all, then start over at a second site, but you don’t need to feel impelled to repeat the exercises you have already done one-at-a-time on separate days. It is important to give yourself the time and space you need to explore and to feel satisfied with your selection of site.
Please read through all eight exercises before beginning any of them. Along the way, there are tools and strategies, which you may find useful before you get to the exercise that deepens each in detail.
If you have not yet listed all of the hazards in your area as well as strategies for dealing with them, please do so before exploring a site. Go to Hazards for more on that process.
© Nate Harvey, 2015