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Primitive Living Skills- Beyond the Basics-
Tracking Reading List

Tracking Page 1- the basics
Tracking Page 2- tracking and observation
Tracking Page 3- tracking media, tracking journal
Tracking Page 4- tracking surprise
Tracking Page 5- wilderness mind, observation, new experiences
Tracking Page 6- recommended reading

Tracking Reading List and More Training Suggestions

re-posted from 19 February 2012 blog post

More About Our Tracking Practices- 
When Nicolai and I are out in the bush, we make it a point to observe any tracks we come across, even our own. We make careful examinations of our own tracks whether they be footprints in a canyon bottom, the sign left behind after a lunch break under some juniper trees, or all the tracks and sign left by us as we leave a campsite in the morning. We practice Leave No Trace principles on all our adventures, but as trackers, there is always plenty to see at a campsite no matter how careful and clean we are. It is especially interesting to examine the campsites and break areas, not to mention the tracks and sign, of others. Building a tracking picture of a group of hikers might include the number of people, their gender, if they used tents or slept on the ground, what kind of food they ate, and how conscientious they were of cleaning up and leaving absolutely nothing other than tracks. If you haven’t tried this before, and are interested in tracking, give it a try the next time you are out. It can be a fun exercise.

I have been meaning for some time now to add a bibliography of tracking books to the website. Following is a list of books we have read, or are in the process of reading, and a few that are on the list to buy. Many of the titles that are specifically about tracking cover a lot of the same material- the technical aspects of tracking and how to go about learning the process. But each one has something to add. I follow each title with a brief description of the book (or books). We will post this list in the Tracking Pages at the Desert Explorer website, and update it periodically.

  • SAS Guide to Tracking- Bob Carss- our favorite, great all-around guide on learning to track
  • Training in Tracking- Gilcraft- A book written for the Scouts (the Boy Scouts) early in the 20th century
  • Tactical Tracking Operations- David Scott-Donelan- great guide, great stories, military or police applications
  • Tracking--Signs of Man, Signs of Hope- David Diaz- another introduction to tracking
  • Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking- the book I started with
  • The Tracker- Tom Brown- great stories about hsi tracking adventures
  • Tony Hillerman’s  Leaphorn and Chee mysteries - real tracking information embedded in most of the stories. Hunting Badger is one of the later books.
  • Arthur Conan-Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes- Holmes teaches us about observation and tracking
  • The Dobe Kung (The Dobe Ju/’hoansi)- Richard Lee- the Kalahari bushmen are considered some of the best trackers in the world. Lee's studies are legendary in the world of anthropology, whether or not you accept the methods of the 1950's. There are many version of this book available.
  • Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors - Richard Lee and Irvin Devore, out of print but it can still be found
  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People - Elizabeth Marshall-Thomas- about the Kung/San/Ju Huanse
  • Man the Hunter - An edited volume by Lee and Devore, this is a classic anthropological text on hunter-gatherers from 1968
  • Kim - Rudyard Kipling- where “Kim’s game” comes from, a memory game used to build observation skills
  • The Rhodesian War: A Military History- from the Stackpole Military History Series- about a brutal conflict; trackers were vital
  • Footwear Impression Evidence: Detection, Recovery and Examination, second edition- William Bodziak- a very technical, and expensive,manual written by an FBI footwear scientist for investigators. If you can find a copy of an earlier edition it will be much less expensive.
  • Shadows in the Sand: A Koevoet Tracker's Story of an Insurgency War - Sisingi Kamongo- accounts of trackers and soldiers during the late 80′s Angolan/ South West African bush war
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence - Doris Pilkington- A great book about the removal of aboriginal children form their homes in Australia. The book mentions the use of trackers, but more important, it speaks to how the people were completely in tune with their environment. Also see movie of the same name, whcih is quite different, with more of the tracker who trails the girls.
  • Case Files of the Tracker- Tom Brown- Tom Brown's own acounts of some of his most memorable "failures"- and most important lessons- in his tracking career
  • Military Tracking - from Paladin Press- reprints of the U.S. Army Special Forces Tracking and Countertracking Manual and the Australian Air Training Basic Visual Tracking manual in one volume- lots of repeated information- almost word for word, but the U.S. Army manual is worth reading through
  • Index Tracking: Essential Guide to Trailing Man and Beast - Freddy Osuna- another introduction to tracking but with some some new twists and Osuna's own experiences and additions to the ancient art
  • Analysis of Lost Person Behavior - William Syrotuck- A pamphlet written for search and rescue personnel giving a statistical analysis and summary of possible courses of action for lost persons across age, experience, location, and activity
  • Seek On! - Susan Merritt- introduces Combat Tracker Teams, dog handlers, and tracker dogs and their missions during the Viet Nam war. A must read for anyone interested in the history of this war, and anyone looking for data to support the absolute necessity of tracking skills on the modern battlefield
  • Tracking : A Blueprint for Learning How - Jack Kearney. Considered a classic guide written by a border patrol officer. Read the book and follow the instructions- practice, practice, and practice more.
  • The Harmless People - Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. A study of the bushmen of the Kalahri desert, their lifestyle, and the author's experience there with her family in the 1950's. This book does not cover tracking specifically as much as The Old Way, another book by the same author.
  • The Art of Tracking, the Origin of Science - Louis Liebenberg. The author starts far back with our hominid ancestors and works forward to modern Homo sapiens, speculating along the way about how tracking came into being and how it developed, and complemented the overall development, of our species. Available as a free download at the author's website.
  • Koevoet: Experiencing South Africa's Deadly Bush War - Jim Hooper. An absolutely riveting volume relating Hooper's experience with Koevoet or "crowbar" in Afrikaans, the South West African Police counterinsurgency unit. Hooper spent five months with the unit in the field and addresses the dependence of the soldiers very lives on the unit's trackers. See also Shadows In The Sand above, written by one of the units trackers.
  • Tracker: Case Files & Adventures of a Professional Mantracker - Joel Hardin. Full of great information on tracking, as well as true stories of Joel's adventures over the years. An exciting book, with plenty of instruction for the tracker of any skill level.
  • Man-Eaters of Kumaon - Jim Corbett. Jim Corbett was a hunter in India in the early 20th century tasked with making the areas of northern Inida safe for the inhabitants. This book is a list of his tales of tracking and killing man-eating tigers.



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