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Thread: Combat Tracking (catch all)

  1. #181
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJPONeill View Post
    JMA, in regard to tracking in a more conventional environment, essentially what Wild said....even the most basic tracking training provides an individual soldier (regardless of this background e.g. rural, urban etc) with an awareness of their surroundings that they otherwise might not have from standard training...this might be as per Wilf's example of identifying vehicles from their track marks to being able through post-mortem a scene based upon the remaining sign as per the examples in the paper to detecting changes/indications in surroundings that may indicate a potential ambush etc.
    Thanks for the explanation. I agree.

    That brings us to the point where the situational awareness brought about through improved theatre specific fieldcraft/bushcraft/woodcraft training (with all the benefits you allude to) diverges from the individual tracking skill.

    Yes, all soldiers (even the city kids) benefit from bushcraft and introduction to tracking training. It makes them more aware and should be theatre orientated. But this does not make them trackers.

    To interpret sign and follow spoor over various terrain types even when the enemy are anti-(counter)tracking at a "catch-up" speed that will lead to contact is not something anyone can do.

    Leave the CSI work to those guys and get the trackers onto the spoor ASAP. Relieve them often, leap frog other teams forward, use dogs as appropriate (including hunting packs) and horses for speed over suitable terrain... use anymeans available! The aim is to close with and kill the enemy... this aggressive tracking to combat requires the skills developed over a lifetime. Leave the back tracking action to the amateur wannabes where time is not of the essence.

    Etc etc...

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    Default Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability

    Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability

    Entry Excerpt:

    Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability:
    A Disappearing Skill and Misunderstood Capability
    by John D. Hurth and Jason W. Brokaw

    Download the Full Article: Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability:

    Of all the potentially valuable skills in the military the one that is most commonly misunderstood and underestimated is Visual Tracking. Unfortunately most opinions are based on misconceptions within the civilian tracking community. Trackers who are teachers of a holistic form of tracking that focus their instruction on a spiritual aspect have crushed any true debate on the virtues of tracking as a military specialty skill. Visual Tracking is not an exclusive skill associated with the Native American, San Bushmen, Iban, or Dyak trackers.

    Download the Full Article: Visual Tracking and the Military Tracking Team Capability:

    John D. Hurth is a retired United States Army Special Forces soldier.

    Jason W. Brokaw currently maintains active military status with the United States Army Reserves, assigned to a special operations unit as a Signals Intelligence Analyst (35N).




    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbttracker View Post
    Sir,
    Even with the proven tactical benefits of utilizing combat trackers, it's hard to get commanders approval to dismount, and pursue the enemy. The military, and the public to whom they ultimately answer, are afraid of high casualty counts. They mistakenly believe mounted patrol with MRAPs is the silver bullit. In reality, because of mobility issues, they become road bound, and easier targets. I don't even want to address, leaving body armor and helmets behind to lighten the load, and increase speed and mobility, and reduce water requirements, somebody might have a stroke. Or worse, the ACU uniform which is absolutely abysmal, seems effective only on the crushed rock floor of the FOBs.. Many an operator has dug deep into their pockets to purchase Multicam uniforms, or got back in BDUs to enhance their own survivability. When I attended tracking school over 20 years ago in Malaysia, we stayed in the field, live out of our rucksacks, and slept on the tracks. I can't imagine that happenlng here, although I belive that's how we will deny the enemy of his mountain santuaries, and focus our combat power more effectively. That said, there are some enlightend commanders, who understand the concept of combat tracking teams, to include an IED defeat organization. Consequently, I have stayed busy.
    exactly... I can´t agree with the rule of mandatory ballistic all the time. Sometimes it´s actually endandering the soldier´s life more than protects, but we all know it. But those who could change this unhappy rule seem not to care much
    PS: sorry for my english
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-26-2010 at 12:00 PM. Reason: grammar. Mod changed text from red to bold.

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    Hi everybody,
    Anyone knows about some decent tracking school in Europe? I found shadowhawk.co.uk in Britain plus some other british schools mainly focusing on wildlife tracking, and that´s pretty much all from whole continent. I found tracking extremely useful when deployed in A-stan, and I am trying to get some training in it. I do wildlife tracking by myself, and I read all I can about tactical tracking (D.S.Donelan´s and Jack Kearney´s books plus websites) but I would like to attend proper structured tactical tracking training. I have to pay for this by myself, and do it during my leave, so trip to US is financialy a bit off-limits for me. Any info on some good tactical tracking training conducted in Europe? Thanks
    PS: Yes I tried to convince my superiors to send somebody to US to became regiment´s tracking instructor, but without success.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BushrangerCZ View Post
    Hi everybody,
    Anyone knows about some decent tracking school in Europe? I found shadowhawk.co.uk in Britain plus some other british schools mainly focusing on wildlife tracking, and that´s pretty much all from whole continent. I found tracking extremely useful when deployed in A-stan, and I am trying to get some training in it. I do wildlife tracking by myself, and I read all I can about tactical tracking (D.S.Donelan´s and Jack Kearney´s books plus websites) but I would like to attend proper structured tactical tracking training. I have to pay for this by myself, and do it during my leave, so trip to US is financialy a bit off-limits for me. Any info on some good tactical tracking training conducted in Europe? Thanks
    PS: Yes I tried to convince my superiors to send somebody to US to became regiment´s tracking instructor, but without success.
    Thank you for the PM.

    Well it does all start with animal tracking and it is the means how the tracking skill becomes an ingrained skill. Where does one start?

    This course I believe is the benchmark: Samara Tracking Course

    Its a 1 year full time course and while it may contain other "nice to have" stuff it accepts that learners need the time and the repetition over the year and across the seasons to get it right.

    They say:
    The current knowledge of traditional tracking is mostly limited to the ‘identification’ and ‘following’ of an animal’s track on the ground. Historically, tracking encompassed a greater variety of ‘sign’. It integrates the interpretation of calls, scents, the presence of certain fauna & flora, situational awareness and the subtleties of animal behavior. A talented tracker must employ physical and mental focus in difficult conditions, over extended periods of time.
    OK very few people have a year to spend on a tracking course unless they intend to become a game scout/guide for the tourist industry somewhere.

    The other end of the spectrum are the commercial tracking courses which seem to be anything from a weekend, to a few days to a week or so. The market has probably dictated that thats about the amount of time and money people can or are prepared to spend (or can afford to spend) on a tracking course (especially if they are paying for it themselves). There is a place for these courses but whether the promised results can be guaranteed over such short periods is debatable.

    From post number #125 above I quote:
    Savory’s concept took native tracking and turned it into a military discipline. He argued that a soldier already skilled in patrols, ambushes and tactical maneuvering could better almost anyone in the man tracking game once trained in the necessary techniques. From Rhodesia’s SAS he selected eight men which he felt had demonstrated special potential to form a test group.

    Savory put them through a Spartan, rigorous training program in the Sabie Valley adjacent to the Mozambique border. Eight weeks in the field, two weeks back in town and another eight weeks back in the bush was just enough to bring his men to what he felt was the required standard.
    So in that Rhodesian context the 8 SAS members with the best tracking skills and potential needed 16 weeks of bush training was the minimum to achieve the required standard as a member of a tracker combat team.

    Yes, some training is better than no training but a little training does not make a skilled military tracker.

    I will ask some of my contacts what is available in the UK with a man-track component and get back to you.

    Your enthusiasm and willingness to pay your own way probably means you are half-way there. I hope you achieve what you are aiming for.

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    Jim Corbett, famous for his books on hunting maneaters, did lead jungle warfare courses for Burma in which tracking played a big role. While books like "Jungle lore" or the more well-known ones like Men-Eaters of Kumaon only touch tracking they give a great insight into the mind of a great naturalist and sportsman. His great love for nature, his thirst of knowledge and his iron will coupled with great human qualities enabled him to finish the job where few dared to try and nobody else succeded.

    It is of course important to point out that he basically grew up in the Jungle with "catapult", bow, muzzle loader and a 450 Martini rifle with which he bagged his first Leopard at the age of ten or eleven, stalking alone through a dense scrub jungle. He also had quite a range of good tutors from a very young age, from the his elder brother to local poachers. Such a skill set is of course rather difficult to match for men growing up in Western societies, but he seemed to be confident that his jungle training courses did make the soldiers very competent jungle fighters.

    The stories are terrific and his attention to detail and his willigness to solve those "jungle detective stories" (or to bag alone a cunning man-eater) are amazing as well has his ability to think from the perspective of animals and other men alike. I personally tried to adopt some of his way of thinking into my hunting and I had good success although it is quite literally a different world here.

    P.S: Interestingly the Elizabeth, which celebrates her 60th anniversary this year has become the Queen the night spend with Corbett in the "Tree tops" in Kenia, 1952. The day before the couple attended a polo match despite the "terrorist" threat. While the police guarded the event he felt nervous about a small scrubby creek leading right to the polo ground and checked personally the area for footprints, something which didn't seem to have come in mind of the security forces.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-01-2012 at 03:31 PM.
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    Firn:

    Corbett's book also give an excellent idea of how well applied terror can affect people and their lives. In his books the terror is inflicted by tigers and leopards but groups of men stalking the darkness have the same effect. Robert Thompson recommended reading Corbett's books to understand the power terror inflicted by man or beast has.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Jim Corbett, famous for his books on hunting maneaters, did lead jungle warfare courses for Burma in which tracking played a big role. While books like "Jungle lore" or the more well-known ones like Men-Eaters of Kumaon only touch tracking they give a great insight into the mind of a great naturalist and sportsman. His great love for nature, his thirst of knowledge and his iron will coupled with great human qualities enabled him to finish the job where few dared to try and nobody else succeded.

    It is of course important to point out that he basically grew up in the Jungle with "catapult", bow, muzzle loader and a 450 Martini rifle with which he bagged his first Leopard at the age of ten or eleven, stalking alone through a dense scrub jungle. He also had quite a range of good tutors from a very young age, from the his elder brother to local poachers. Such a skill set is of course rather difficult to match for men growing up in Western societies, but he seemed to be confident that his jungle training courses did make the soldiers very competent jungle fighters.

    The stories are terrific and his attention to detail and his willigness to solve those "jungle detective stories" (or to bag alone a cunning man-eater) are amazing as well has his ability to think from the perspective of animals and other men alike. I personally tried to adopt some of his way of thinking into my hunting and I had good success although it is quite literally a different world here.

    P.S: Interestingly the Elizabeth, which celebrates her 60th anniversary this year has become the Queen the night spend with Corbett in the "Tree tops" in Kenia, 1952. The day before the couple attended a polo match despite the "terrorist" threat. While the police guarded the event he felt nervous about a small scrubby creek leading right to the polo ground and checked personally the area for footprints, something which didn't seem to have come in mind of the security forces.
    Agreed... and this book is to be found as a free download on the net.

    For the yanks I suggest that Major F R Burham's 'Scouting on Two Continents' is a must read in this regard. Burham's role in the early days of Rhodesia is the stuff of legends.

    (Would be very keen to look at buying/exchanging for 'what you looking for' a copy of Burham's 'Taking Chances' - rare as hens teeth )

    As a matter of interest I have recently been collecting historical data from my war and as you state above and as I have stated before it is confirmed that your premier bushcraft (woodcraft for the yanks) and tracking skills are to be found out there among kids who have grown up in the bush - on game reserves or on farms with wild game and/or in or near wilderness areas. That's where you find them... so shut down that Time Square recruiting office (which picks up the flotsam and jetsam of New York society) and send the recruiting sergeants out into the mountains and the deserts to find recruits who are worth something (in a military sense).

    ...oh yes and to get a wartime jungle flavour F Spencer Chapman's 'The Jungle is Neutral' is essential reading.
    Last edited by JMA; 06-01-2012 at 09:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Agreed... and this book is to be found as a free download on the net.

    For the yanks I suggest that Major F R Burham's 'Scouting on Two Continents' is a must read in this regard. Burham's role in the early days of Rhodesia is the stuff of legends.

    (Would be very keen to look at buying/exchanging for 'what you looking for' a copy of Burham's 'Taking Chances' - rare as hens teeth )

    As a matter of interest I have recently been collecting historical data from my war and as you state above and as I have stated before it is confirmed that your premier bushcraft (woodcraft for the yanks) and tracking skills are to be found out there among kids who have grown up in the bush - on game reserves or on farms with wild game and/or in or near wilderness areas. That's where you find them... so shut down that Time Square recruiting office (which picks up the flotsam and jetsam of New York society) and send the recruiting sergeants out into the mountains and the deserts to find recruits who are worth something (in a military sense).
    After posting this I went in search online for a copy of 'Taking Chances'. The prices are scary.

    What I did find was the introduction to the book on a Baden-Powell website.

    Interesting I find this quote from BP by Burnham:

    "... When I look at some of the recruits of our Army, many from the sterile fields of brick and mortar, it sends a shudder clear through me. The one ray of hope is that these recruits seem to retain an innate spark of courage. However, courage alone cannot suffice in the bitter strife ahead. Robin Hood would have had poor chance of recruiting his stout longbowmen from our great cities. Neither could your Indian chiefs have selected their warriors from stuff like your city-bred. A significant fact in your American military history is that roving bands of Indian warriors, often with meagre arms, turned back again and again great waves of armed white men in their westward march. It was over two hundred years before the last hostiles surrendered on your Pacific Coast."
    Burnham agreed.

    100 years later this is remains self-evident... but not obviously to the powers that be in the US and British militaries. Scandalous!

    ...oh yes and a quote from Burnham himself:

    B.P. drew from me many facts of woodlore that I had learned in my boyhood, especially from life among the American Indians.
    ...but then again what the hell did Burnham know? Nothing some 'smart' city kid can't pick-up from a google search and by watching a few videos.
    Last edited by JMA; 06-03-2012 at 11:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Interesting I find this quote from BP by Burnham:
    "... When I look at some of the recruits of our Army, many from the sterile fields of brick and mortar, it sends a shudder clear through me. The one ray of hope is that these recruits seem to retain an innate spark of courage. However, courage alone cannot suffice in the bitter strife ahead."
    I bet this was more of a commentary on the appalling state of the British urban working class’s health to the point that they were physically unable to soldier at all, not simply unable to serve as trackers. I don’t think the modern-day recruiters in NYC have to deal with so drastic a situation. (Do they?)

    "Robin Hood would have had poor chance of recruiting his stout longbowmen from our great cities."
    If I may be allowed a slightly off-topic niggle, surely Baden-Powell knew that you those bowmen weren’t recruited as men but rather trained up from youth!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    If I may be allowed a slightly off-topic niggle, surely Baden-Powell knew that you those bowmen weren’t recruited as men but rather trained up from youth!
    True, but traditionally the US has always had a substantial number of young people who may not have been trained in military marksmanship, but at least grew up with firearms, hunted regularly, and spent a lot of time in the woods. I realize that military marksmanship is different, but teaching it to someone who got a .22 for his 8th birthday and a .30-06 for his 12th, and grew up hunting and plinking, has got to be easier than teaching it to urban youth whose experience is limited to popping off a few rounds from a .38, if that.

    Even more than the shooting, people who grew up with woods, mountains, swamps, rivers, etc are always going to find it easier to move in these environments and to hone the tracking and stalking skills they've already built through hunting.

    We often get city guys up to these mountains who are very fit, in the sense of basic physical development, triathletes and serious runners who work out constantly. They still tire fast in rough terrain. They use far more energy over a given distance than someone who's used to that kind of movement. They are fit but they lack agility and are constantly correcting their balance. It wears them out. With equal physical training your country guys are going to go farther faster over rough terrain than your city guys.

    Of course people who grew up not just playing in the woods but living off them are in a whole different category. I used to go out in the jungle with Aeta tribesmen in Zambales and Bataan, people who still get much of their food from hunting and gathering. They sense entire dimensions in that forest that are completely hidden to the outsider. Tracking for them isn't just about physical signs... based on the season, the weather, the time of day and multiple other factors they already know to within a very small margin where game will be. If they're following people all they have to know is the direction of movement and they can break off the trail and move (generally an easier way) to a point where the people they are following are going to be. They have a hard time explaining how they know... they just know. Pretty impressive to watch. This I don't think it's possible to teach... not that training is bad, but you'll never match that intimate link between people and terrain that you get with people who have grown up with a legacy of living off a particular area of land. I'm sure those people would lose much of that ability in a different place.

    So I agree with JMA... your country boys are going to have a huge advantage, and a big headstart on the training curve, in learning to manage bush environments. On the other hand, would the city boys have a similar advantage in learning urban warfare?

    In terms of military recruiting... I don't know the system enough to comment. Are the rural areas really being ignored? In terms of proximity to a large pool of potential recruits I can see the point in locating a permanent office in a city, but don't they at least move around showing a presence in the rural areas? Would be interesting to hear from people who know the system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    True, but traditionally the US has always had a substantial number of young people who may not have been trained in military marksmanship, but at least grew up with firearms, hunted regularly, and spent a lot of time in the woods.
    Just a history buff’s aside about the difference between archers and musketeers. One of the drivers of the initial adoption of firearms was the saved cost in terms of training time. Longbows possessed an indirect fire capability and were more accurate, comparable in range, and much (much!) quicker to reload than 16th century firearms. With archers there are years of turning a human into a weapon whereas with musketeers there are months or less of teaching a human to use a weapon. [LINK]

    I realize that military marksmanship is different, but teaching it to someone who got a .22 for his 8th birthday and a .30-06 for his 12th, and grew up hunting and plinking, has got to be easier than teaching it to urban youth whose experience is limited to popping off a few rounds from a .38, if that. Even more than the shooting, people who grew up with woods, mountains, swamps, rivers, etc are always going to find it easier to move in these environments and to hone the tracking and stalking skills they've already built through hunting.
    I don’t know about shooting—sometimes it’s easier to start with a blank slate than it is to unteach bad habits—but I assume any experience with tracking is a plus. I do wonder how transferable tracking skills are across environments, though. How long would it take a really good tracker from the Subarctic to become a good tracker in the jungle or desert? I suspect it would be something like learning a new language. The more languages you know when you start the more quickly you will pick a new on up, but nothing is automatic.
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    The British study was quite interesting. It is amazing on how many levels the human is adaptable. Even the organism alone is subject:

    1) Changes in the DNA sequence. It took us some time to evolve from the first traces of live to our current state. The pace of evolution can vary greatly due to the intrinsic base and the interactions with the (evolving) environment.

    2) Epigenetics, from the Wiki:
    In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi- (Greek: επί- over, above, outer) -genetics. It refers to functionally relevant modifications to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, both of which serve to regulate gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence.

    These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism;[1] instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.[2]
    Hunger during childhood can for example have an impact some generations down the road.

    3) In your own livetime, living style and conditions have a big influence on your organism.


    Anyway I bet that most of the offspring of those Grade IV males has quite a different problem, in this case too much of a good thing, food.

    ----

    Corbett trained, IIRC 50 men at once, showing the high demand and the lack of trainers. Still he seemed to have been very confident that those guys learned a lot and would or had done well. As usual the abilities will have differend a great deal resulting in different skill sets with some being good at tracking, good and bad at other stuff and others being mostly not so good in most things.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-04-2012 at 10:36 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    It is amazing on how many levels the human is adaptable. Even the organism alone is subject:
    A handful of researchers are doing some (to my mind, at least) very good work on this under the heading of ‘plasticity.’ Here’s a link to a relatively jargon-free presentation on the topic by my friend Greg Downey should you be interested.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    We often get city guys up to these mountains who are very fit, in the sense of basic physical development, triathletes and serious runners who work out constantly. They still tire fast in rough terrain. They use far more energy over a given distance than someone who's used to that kind of movement. They are fit but they lack agility and are constantly correcting their balance. It wears them out. With equal physical training your country guys are going to go farther faster over rough terrain than your city guys.
    This is something which I have observed personally and I'm not the only one. Rough going in difficult terrain requires a more holistic skill set than sheer physical fitness trained in a less demanding environment like smooth roads. I grew up in a small mountain village and always enjoyed activities in the great outdoors. We get a great influx of tourists and while the conventional wisdom goes that going up is the main problem , which is true to a good extent, walking downwards is more problematic for many, especially younger persons. Walking along a rock strewn riverbed already wears many out mentally. Many are far too stiff and lack the sure foot and the technique. As kids we loved to run down slopes, especially when there were steep gravel ones. It is just like skiing or betterwedeln, keep your body slightly slightly angled sideways, low and balanced and make many small steps with the knees slighly bend, turing right and left. It is the smoothest way to descend very quickly.

    Of course people who grew up not just playing in the woods but living off them are in a whole different category. I used to go out in the jungle with Aeta tribesmen in Zambales and Bataan, people who still get much of their food from hunting and gathering. They sense entire dimensions in that forest that are completely hidden to the outsider. Tracking for them isn't just about physical signs... based on the season, the weather, the time of day and multiple other factors they already know to within a very small margin where game will be. If they're following people all they have to know is the direction of movement and they can break off the trail and move (generally an easier way) to a point where the people they are following are going to be. They have a hard time explaining how they know... they just know. Pretty impressive to watch. This I don't think it's possible to teach... not that training is bad, but you'll never match that intimate link between people and terrain that you get with people who have grown up with a legacy of living off a particular area of land. I'm sure those people would lose much of that ability in a different place.
    Corbett talks about his mental maps shared with his friends and that he and his poaching teacher, already a friend and shikari of his big brother Tom never failed even at night with sufficient moon to find the locations (of a kill etc) described to each other with a few worlds. The lay of the land does really greatly influence the movement and actions of animals and persons alike, for example we still observe how for example bears used the same trails and resting places used in historical records. While Europe may be the home of our Western civilization the forests in which I had my "catapult", bow, crossbow (selfmade) and (air)rifle days are now once again home to brown bears. Just recently a very big bear was observed which seems to hide just in that area where 200 years ago bears were shot. While I would be happy to have an ounce of that knowledge Corbett had you can sometimes be quite accurate about the behaviour of animals, although they will always keep surprising you. And if you read the signs of the woods you can really appreciate just how careful and cunning especially older hinds behave, for example when selecting their beds. Usually they are in places where most approaches are very difficult.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-05-2012 at 08:11 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

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    I read Man-Eaters of Kumaon before I was 10, and it made a huge impression. I remember prowling around a swamp with a .22 imagining that pheasants were tigers, a fantasy that on one occasion elicited a marked lack of sympathy from a game warden. Always wanted, but never got, a rifle in 7x57mm...

    Digression, but I agree that growing up around mountains, woods, and rivers provides a base that's difficult to replicate any other way. It's like learning languages... they can be learned and taught later in life, but if you get to age 20 without having started, the learning is likely to be a slow and painful process.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Default Fighting deadlines so can't spend too much time here...

    The context of this post is tracking... so scouting (in the original sense of the word) and recce probably fit well with context.

    Baden-Powell and Burnham were mates. I posted Burnham's comments on BP and now this is what Baden-Powell says about his thoughts which led to the development of Boy Scouts across the world:

    THE MATOPOS AND THE BOY SCOUTS

    I suppose there is no more damnable country in the world for Scouting in than the Matopos.

    But without scouting little could be done in the way of coming to grips with the enemy there.

    The men of the Rhodesian forces rose to the occasion when, in 1896, the Matabele took to their fastnesses there.

    With extraordinary pluck and endurance those Rhodesians succeeded in finally putting an end to their resistance in spite of the appalling difficulties of the terrain.

    Their action taught me a lesson which has "borne fruit since then, not only throughout our Empire but in foreign lands as well. The spirit that makes a scout is the spirit that makes a man of the best type. The selfless devotion to duty, the exercise of keen-eyed observation and clever deduction, the patience and pluck and initiative involved in playing the game for their side and not for themselves exhibited by those Rhodesians showed me the qualities which ought to be encouraged in our boys as an essential part of their education.

    The three Rs are all very well but they don't make MEN.

    In these days of modern inventions, which tend to mollycoddle our lads, such training is more than ever necessary.

    Boys long for adventure. Frontiersmen are their heroes. So it needed no great imagination to visualise that, give them the name of Boy Scouts, and teach them Scoutcraft and backwoodsmanship. You would have their enthusiastic response and you could mould them, body, mind and spirit, onto the desired model.

    Thus it has come about that the spirit of the Pioneers of Rhodesia is not confined merely to their successors in the country but has spread itself across the world in ever-growing force among the oncoming generation of all nations.
    Find the original letter here.

    These are the type of people who should form the basis and backbone of modern armies, go find them and draw them in to the service - and some time ago when I suggested that as enlistment incentives items like a hunting rifle, such kids can only dream of, with the latest, greatest model of the desired pick-up truck are offered, I was not joking.

    Yes armies do need numbers when they mobilise for war and they draw their cannon fodder from the cities and towns. These 'scouting' types are a national treasure and must be nurtured and developed as such. They help provide commanders with the field intel to plan operations/battles for maximum effect with minimum losses.

    PS: I am a city boy from Cape Town who joined up to fight the Rhodesian bush war. I worked with such people there but don't count myself among them and was smart enough to realise and accept that they were 20+ years ahead of me in terms of bushcraft (and I could never catch up) and I was better suited to fly in as the sledgehammer (with the other city lads) to deal with whatever their 'scouting' ability had found for us.
    Last edited by JMA; 06-06-2012 at 07:09 AM.

  18. #198
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    Comparing the learning of tracking to that of languages comes rather close I think, as long as they are related somewhat. While I consider myself a poor tracker I did have some fun trying to spoor a bit in Namibia (not for hunting actually, at least not with a rifle) after having read like others the picture book about animal signs in that region. While the unfamiliar landscape left me rather clueless concerning even the a rough estimate of the time I was able to make baby steps. For example on the first rest day I ventured out after morning into the hinterland by jeep and found rhino tracks and followed them to some droppings. Rhinos were not supposed to be here but the were distinctive enough to believe my eyes. The tracks looked relative fresh but I was very uncertain but the droppings made it a lot easier as they clearly were fresh after opening them with a stick. Thanks to the local A4 sketch map given to us at the farm it was rather easy to match the direction of travel to a water hole. A small hill closeby (very sharp vulcanic rock) made for a great vantage point to glass the whole landscape which already was under the hot sun, but we could not find it, despite looking very carefully into the shadows of many isolated trees and scrub.

    Driving back, before the gate a jeep (I saw it driving already from the hill) was parked on the side of the road with man talking with a walkie-talkie with another looking with binoculars south-west IIRC. Talking to him we understood that a Rhino had moved from a protected area into farmland. Giving him the information five minutes a old black walked out of the bush, talking in Afrikaans (making it a bit difficult to understand). We drove on and later got kindly the information from the farmer that the Rhino had left their land. This created of course among my fellow travelers an illusion of talent which I could not quite uphold.

    This is just a poor example but it shows that knowing somewhat the logic, where and how to look and additionally the behavior of say our red deer helps a lot, and makes it easier to learn or integrate the new words or grammar. Maybe the relation between Italian and Spanish/French fits. All animals, among them we humans, have areas in which we feed, rest and so forth and routes within and in between. A red deer here in our mountains will rest during the day depending on the season and the weather shadowed rough gorges running towards a heavily populated valley or in high alpine sunny scrub. However at night he moves often to smaller or bigger openings and lays during digestion periods close by, as shown by the doppings in certain screened nearby areas. The Rhino follows different patterns, but it is much easier to understand its movements when you know the patterns of other animals, the more similar of course the better.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-06-2012 at 05:17 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Thumbs up

    Firn,

    A magnificent country Namibia, you are a lucky man to visit there.
    davidbfpo

  20. #200
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    ... For example on the first rest day I ventured out after morning into the hinterland by jeep and found rhino tracks and followed them to some droppings. Rhinos were not supposed to be here but the were distinctive enough to believe my eyes. The tracks looked relative fresh but I was very uncertain but the droppings made it a lot easier as they clearly were fresh after opening them with a stick...
    With a stick?

    Must use a finger to feel the internal temperature... to help judge the age.

    And if you lick your finger afterwards you can figure out what the animal has been eating

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