Last week saw the first Woodlore U.K. course of 2014 take place. This year we kicked things off with our Advanced Tracking course, held in the beautiful countryside of East Sussex.
Guided by the staff, the clients roamed amongst ancient woodland of oak, beech and yew as they followed the trails left by man and beast. Having completed previous tracking courses with us, this was an opportunity to delve much deeper into the art of tracking, build on their current knowledge and put new skills and techniques to the test in challenging, exciting and realistic scenarios.
Tracking is not only a challenging skill to learn but also a perishable one, so it is important to practice regularly. To really excel at it, a proficiency in all the other bushcraft skills is imperative. Probably the most important point to make is the greater your bush skills, the less equipment you need to take, allowing you to travel faster. Of course, that is one of the principles of bushcraft as a whole, but it really pays off when tracking especially. After all, what’s the reason for following a trail? Well, unless you’re aim is to solely gather intelligence about the target, the aim is to catch up and gain a visual with whatever you’re tracking. Travelling faster than the target, anticipating their next move and intentions and maintaining motivation and a sense of momentum is made much easier if the tracker is unencumbered with unnecessary gear.
Tracking dovetails with all the other skills we teach at Woodlore. Take foraging for instance; this time of year you may be searching for ingredients for a wild salad, in which case possessing keen observation – honed by tracking – makes a task such as this much easier. Navigation is also tied very closely to tracking and the two benefit greatly from each other; you become more aware of your surroundings and that can assist you in urban areas too. You become sharper and more alert wherever you are. It teaches so many things; patience, observation, deduction, honesty and attention to detail to name a few, so it really is a wonderful skill to learn. It is also very addictive and great fun; once you begin to follow a trail it’s hard to stop!
As with any skill, there is only so much you can learn from a book before you have to actually go out and put it into practice. This is most true with tracking. Our courses will provide you with the tools to go out on your own to confidently follow trails and identify and gather information about humans and wildlife from the traces they leave behind. It’s not the mysterious, black art that it is sometimes portrayed as, but instead a logical process built upon observation and knowledge of the target. Join us on a course to learn one of the most ancient skills possessed by human beings and one that is still relevant and applicable in today’s world.
- Dan Hume, Head of Operations