Tracking and Countertracking

It is very difficult for a person, especially a group, to move across any area without leaving signs noticeable to the trained eye. These signs can be reliably followed by a skilled tracker.

Tracking involves following the string of signs left by the subject you are tracking.
This requires great concentration and attention to detail, and improves with practice. Tracking uses all senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste to interpret information left behind by the subject. Much of’ tracking means noting what is out of context in nature and realizing the cause and interpreting its meaning.

Do not step on and destroy the tracks you are following.
Never pass beyond a sign until you can see the next sign.
If you cannot find the next track, pay careful attention to the last visible sign: the lines of force should indicate where a track lies.

Track with your head up and look about 10 feet in front of you instead of just looking at the ground in front of your feet This will speed the rate of tracking. Remember that you must track at a faster pace than the subject walking if you want to catch up to it.

With the data the tracker gathers on the trail, the tracker attempts to determine:

  • What direction are they going in?
  • How many persons am I following?
  • Are they men and or women?
  • What are their sizes or ages?
  • What is their state of training?
  • How are they equipped?
  • Are they healthy?
  • What is their state of morale?
  • Do they know they are being followed?
  • How long ago were they here?

In the wilderness, there are typically many paths in the bush made by game. Animals typically avoid steep or slippery slopes and therefore game paths will normally provide easy going. These paths are often used by people when quick, silent movement is required, however there is a relatively higher risk of being ambushed on these trails

To move silently and quickly in most parts of the bush is impossible unless use is made of trails. There are a considerable number of paths in the bush, originally made by big game during their nightly or seasonal migrations. Since big game animals find difficultly in climbing or descending steep, slippery slopes it will be found that game trails are very easy going, the inclines being gentle.

There are many paths in the bush made by game during their nightly or seasonal movements. These animals avoid steep or slippery slopes, and therefore game paths will normally provide easy going. Subjects use these trails when quick silent movement is  required. Troops should therefore exercise extreme caution when using these trails as they might well be ambushed.

Ridge Crest Trails- Formed by game along main ridges to
enable movement from one part of the country to another Usually well defined and useful for rapid movement in thick bush, but not used to  a great extent for fear of leaving tracks on the trails

Contour Trails- Found only in area of shallow valleys and generally join crests of ridges by following the contour round the head of the valley. Used by the terrs considerably, to enable them to have easy routes to their camps

Spur Trails- These follow the small spurs often found
projecting from main ridges into deep valleys. Often rather vague but are useful for crossing heavy country across the grain.


  • Move from sign to sign and always be sure of your last confirmed sign before you move on to the next.
  • The subject has to eat and drink, look for signs at fruit-bearing trees, water holes, trapping sites, beehives or observation points. Also watch for signs of fires, particularly in the early morning or late evening. If the track suddenly becomes well-hidden but not lost, circle downwind and try to pick up scent, smoke or firelight, especially at night.


  • Displacement takes place when anything is moved from its original position or altered from it’s original condition.
  • Ground displacement includes footprints, body prints, equipment prints, etc.
  • Vegetation displacement includes bent leaves or grass, broken branches, etc.
  • Animal displacement includes animal cries and animal movement, crushed insects, broken cob webs, etc.

Soil Displacement:


  • Soft, moist ground typically yields excellent tracks
  • Footprints patterns may indicate direction, speed, number of subjects, sex, even if  the subject suspects he may be tracked.
  • Worn footgear or by bare feet may indicate lack of proper equipment.
  • Deep footprints with toe deeper than heel, a long stride, skid marks, greater depth of impression, running on balls of feet and toes, splayed out toes on bare feet, badly damaged vegetation and resultant lack of concealment of the trail typically indicates a subject was running.
  • Prints that are deep, short stride, and feet spaced more widely apart, toes splayed out on bare feet, with signs of scuffing or shuffling typically indicate the subject is carrying a heavy load.
  • A short irregular stride with an unnaturally deep toe and soil displaced in the direction of movement typically indicates the subject is walking backward
  • Intentional attempts to conceal tracks typically indicates subject is aware they may be followed.
  • If particles of soil are beginning to fall into the print, the tracks are very recent and the subject is close
  • If the edges of the print are dried and crusty, the prints are typically about one hour old.
  • Barefoot human foot prints are soft, rounded impressions formed by the heel, ball of the foot or toes.
  • A straight- toed or open-toed track with a longer stride typically indicates the subject is a man.
  • A Woman’s tracks are typically differentiated from a man’s tracks by several features: smaller size, shorter stride, more pigeon toed and the toes are more splayed out than a man’s foot prints.
  • Men usually walk with their feet pointed straight ahead or slightly to the outside.
  • Barefoot human foot prints are soft, rounded impressions formed by the heel, ball of the foot or toes.
  • Animals typically have cloven hooves, the impressions formed on the ground have sharp, clear cut edges.
  • On hard, flat surfaces such as rock, moisture can reveal the prints of the target as light patches. The dust on the surface will darken with moisture, but he will have removed dust by treading and so the moisture will not collect so easily.


  • On trails over hard ground look for small displaced pebbles. When the pebble is dislodged from the surrounding earth, there will be a small depression in the ground where the pebble was.
  • The dislodged pebble will be darker on the side that was toward the ground. If the dark side is still damp, you know that the pebble was dislodged recently.


  • Clear prints are not the norm. Typically a clear print will occur only sporadically along a trail, in places where the ground will accept a clear impression. These areas that accept a clear impression are known by trackers as ‘track traps’. There are both naturally occurring and man made track traps. They range from puddles and cowpats to man-made track traps: where the ground in areas a subject is likely to pass are deliberately prepared to assure a good track is left. The track traps often contain a wealth of information for the tracker

Reading a clear print

Lines of force

  • Lines of Force show as ripples or fracture lines within the track. They radiate from the major point of contact in exactly the opposite direction to the direction of movement.
  • The faster the target is traveling, the more force produced, the greater the lines of force, and the further back they occur.
  • When a target is moving very fast, sprinting for example, the whole track impression can be thrown backwards, very often breaking up.
  • Pay careful attention to these lines for both speed and direction.

Soil scatter

  • Soil scatter is soil thrown out of tracks by being kicked or picked up by the foot. It is usually to be seen in front of the track, in line with the direction of travel. This is especially true of tracks in snow.
  • Rocks can be displaced from their original position or overturned to indicate a lighter or darker color on the opposite side.


  • Risings are where the ground has risen outside the track in response to pressure generated within the track. They are caused by forces in a downward and horizontal direction — often sudden braking and acceleration.


  • Some soils can give a false impression of the size of the track: for example, tracks appear larger than life in sand and smaller than life in heavy clay.

Deep impressions:


  • You can tell their direction of travel by checking which part of the indentation is the deepest — the deepest part shows the direction of march.


  • By carrying out a comparison with your own tracks you will be able to determine whether or not the subject is carrying a load.
  • If so, and you are following the track for any length of time, you should expect to see the ‘put down marks’ of items being put down on the ground.
  • The depth of the indentations will tell you whether they were carrying heavy loads or not, and so will the length of their stride.
  • Heavily laden men take short paces.


  • The difference between the depths at the front and back will give you an idea of their speed — a running man, for example, leaves a deep toe print but little or nothing at the heel.

Other soil displacement:

  • Look for freshly turned earth, and dig down to find out if anything has been buried.

Body prints:

  • A subject reclining during a rest stop may flatten a rectangular area of vegetation.

Equipment prints:

  • Heavy loads set down during a rest stop or at a camp site also leave prints. The shape of the print may help to identify the load.
  • Rifles may be used as walking sticks when the subject is climbing an incline. Look for a marks from a rifle buttplate. It may be possible to assess the number and type of weapons carried.

Vegetation displacement:

  • Moving tops of tall grass or brush on a windless day may indicate that the subject is moving through the vegetation.
  • Clearing a trail, breaking or cutting through heavy vegetation with a machete leaves an obvious trail.
  • Individuals may unconsciously break more branches as they follow someone who is cutting the vegetation.
  • Grass, leaves or other vegetation may be trampled down, crushed, bent or broken in the direction of movement
  • A sleeping man or animal will flatten a large patch of vegetation.
  • Branches, twigs and leaves may be bent or broken indicating movement.
  • Leaves that have been lying on the ground for an extended period will be dark underneath. If the dark side is turned up, it may indicate be due to the subject walking over the leaves.
  • Leaves may be over turned, crushed, kicked or pulled off trees indicating movement..
  • Moss, vines, sticks, or rocks that have been scuffed, snagged or dragged from their original position typically indicate movement
  • Stones and sticks may be overturned, showing a different color underneath.
  • Vegetation pushed aside and the reflection of light from grass or leaves displaced at an angle.
  • The color of bent and broken vegetation, scratched or chipped bark.
  • A footprint and a waist-high scuff on a tree may indicate that an armed individual passed this way.
  • Vegetation may be grazed or chewed by animals
  • Algae and other water plants can be displaced by lost footing or by careless walking.
  • Scratched or chipped bark on tree roots

Animal displacement:

  • Flushed from their natural habitat, wild animals and birds are another example of displacement.
  • Cries of birds excited by unnatural movement is an indicator
  • Listen for animals snorting or running and note the direction. Something is there.
  • Squashed animal or insect life and whether it has been attacked by ants.
  • Cobwebs broken or wiped off onto a nearby tree or bush.
  • Urine and excrement are frequently indicated by a gathering of flies and insects.
  • Watch for the absence of insects or wildlife. Most wild creatures are shy of man and will seek shelter if he has been in the area. Birds are great indicators of men as are deer and other game animals.
  • In areas where there are insects, look for any change in the normal behavior pattern of the insects. These changes may indicate that someone has recently passed through the area.
  • Ant holes may be covered over by someone stepping on them.
  • Animals will be drawn to the smell of anything edible. Animal tracks may also lead you to rubbish or a food cache.

Moisture displacement:

  • Dew on grass may be wiped off by a subjects passing through, leaving a clearly defined “snail trail”.
  • Mud displaced from streams or mud on stones and logs.
  • Trails exiting streams may appear weathered by rain due to water running from clothing or equipment into the tracks. This is especially true if the party exits the stream single file. Then, each person deposits water into the tracks. The existence of a wet, weathered trail slowly fading into a dry trail indicates the trail is fresh.
  • The person entering or exiting a stream creates slide marks or footprints, or scuffs the bark on roots or sticks

Forage displacement

  • The subject has to eat. Look out for scavenging and food gathering. If he’s not been prepared for a long operation, he’ll have to try to live off the land, or else beg, steal or buy food from people he encounters. Even if local inhabitants claim that food has been stolen from them, they could be lying to protect the subject. Don’t follow their directions without checking independently.
  • Fruit trees and edible plants that have been raided
  • Bee hives that have been disturbed
  • Traps and snares
  • Discarded foodstuff
  • Unripe fruit on the ground. Unripe fruit doesn’t fall from trees of its own accord.


  • A stain occurs when any substance from one organism or article is smeared or deposited on something else.


  • Bloodstains typically appear as spatters or drops. Bloodstains and are not always on the ground. They may also appear smeared on leaves or twigs of trees and bushes.
  • The type of bloodstain provides the tracker with excellent clues about the severity and location of the wound and allows the tracker to estimate how far the wounded person can move unassisted.
  • If the blood seems to be dripping steadily, it probably came from a wound on the trunk.
  • If the blood appears to be slung toward the front, rear, or sides, the wound is probably in the extremity.
  • Arterial wounds appear to pour blood at regular intervals as if poured from a pitcher.
  • If the wound is veinous, the blood pours steadily.
  • A lung wound deposits pink, bubbly, and frothy bloodstains.
  • A bloodstain from a head wound appears heavy, wet, and slimy.
  • Abdominal wounds often mix blood with digestive juices so the deposit has an odor and is light in color.
  • When bloodstains are fresh, they are bright red. Air and sunlight first change blood to a deep ruby-red color, then to a dark brown crust when the moisture evaporates.


Other Stains:

  • Stains may be created by muddy footgear dragged over grass, stones, logs and shrubs.
  • Roots, stones, logs and vines may be stained where leaves or berries are crushed by moving feet.
  • Scuff marks on trees or bushes darken with time.
  • Muddied water may indicate recent movement through a body of water
  • Scratches on stones and logs. 
Algae displaced from the surface of water may indicate movement
  • Algae can be displaced from the surface of stones in streams indicating movement.
  • Muddy footgear can stain stones in streams and ponds.
  • Muddy water collects in new footprints in swampy ground
  • Mud settles and the water clears in about one hour.


  • Weather may help and or hinders the tracker.
  • Wind, snow, rain, and sunlight can age and help the tracker determine the age of the track or completely erase all indicators and hinder the tracker
  • A light rain typically rounds the edges of the print. Therefore, if the edges of the print are rounded, the print probably was made before the last light rain occurred
  • A heavy rain may erase all signs.
  • A print found after a heavy rain typically indicates the print was made during or after the last heavy rainfall.
  • The tracker should inspect all areas for bits of clothing, threads, or dirt from footgear that can be torn or can fall and be left on thorns, snags, or the ground.


  • Subjects may leave a trail of litter or debris behind them.
  • Urine and excrement, frequently indicated by insect traffic
  • The appearance of the feces indicates the diet of the individual that left it. The feces of a person who lives on beans and rice will look and smell different from the feces of a person who eats cheeseburgers and pizzas.
  • The dryness, decay, and insect or maggot growth on the feces are all indicators of age.
  • Gum wrappers, candy wrappers, empty food cans, cigarette butts, remains of fires, etc. are unmistakable signs of recent movement.
  • Weather may wet, flatten or wash away litter and debris.
  • Rain turns paper into pulp.
  • Rain can cause food cans to rust. Rust typically starts at the opened edge then migrates to the center over time.
  • A heavy debris trail may indicate a poorly trained or poorly disciplined subject
  • Bits of cloth may be torn from clothing and left on thorns, snags, or the ground.
  • Look for cigarette  butts, ration tins, wrappers and boxes, documents, letters, or diaries.


  • In tracking, camouflage is when the subject employs techniques to confuse or slow the tracker.
  • Examples of camouflage include:
  • Walking backward to leave confusing prints, Backwards tracks will generally look unnatural, sort of a wobble or stagger to them.
  • brushing out trails,
  • moving over rocky ground
  • moving through streams.
  • Stepping in one another’s tracks-used also to disguise numbers in a subject group..
  • Use of streams and stream beds.
  • Splitting up into small groups or individuals over easy
  • tracking ground
  • Pulls down bush with ample foliage to cover the tracks.
  • Walking along fallen trees, oven- rocky ground, or stepping from rock to rock.
  • Dragging bush over trail
  • Splitting animal herds and mixing in with herds
  • Tip-toeing
  • Covering tracks with leaves;
  • wrap rags around their boots, or wear soft soled shoes to make the edges of their footprints rounder and less distinct.
  • Turning towards water, then going from tree to tree in
  • the opposite direction;
  • hiding underwater or underground in a wild animals burrow;
  • shoes tied on backwards; grass bent back;
  • walking  backwards or on the side of the feet;
  • tying animal hooves onto the shoes or feet.

Camouflage of tracks typically indicates that the subject is:

  • Aware of the possibility of being tracked
  • Does not want to be found
  • Trained and disciplined.


  • If the subject employs counter-tracking procedures, it is the tracker’s attention to fine details that will win the day. When a target tries something devious most trackers sense that something is wrong, and then test their hunch by studying the fine nuances in the track.
  • One of the most common problems a military or police tracker faces is how to tell if the target is walking backwards or has tied his shoes on back to front.
  • The simple answer here is that a tracker does not determine the direction of travel by the direction in which the tracks are pointing: instead he reads the sign within the track to determine the direction.
  • Regardless of which way the prints point, the direction of travel must be directly opposite to the lines of force.
  • This is usually corroborated by a soil scatter.
  • Men walking backward have a short, irregular stride. The prints have an unusually deep toe.
  • The soil will be kicked in the direction of movement.


  • It is difficult to determine if a subject has changed shoes unless you find the signs of where the subject changed his shoes. However, the tracker can make careful measurements of his stride and have an observe how the subject walks.
  • If he tries to alter his gait, you may be able to detect this as an unnaturalness in the overall appearance of the trail, although this can be very difficult to determine.


  • If the target discovers that he is being trailed, he may. take evasive action such as walking down roads, rock hopping or walking down the course of a stream, This should not pose too great a problem: cut for sign along both sides of the obstacle, and beware of a possible ambush.



  • Tracking by feel
  • Sap from plants oozes, then hardens in contact with the air.
  • If you discover a resting area, check the campfire’s heat.
  • You will usually be tracking by sight, but you may find yourself in situations when a track cannot be seen — although this does not mean that it can’t be detected.
  • A track in short grass is an example. When a foot treads on grass, the grass is flattened and sometimes broken, bruised or torn,
  • Greater damage is caused when the target is traveling at speed or under a load.
  • If not too badly damaged, the grass slowly recovers, to stand upright again. The time it takes for the grass to untangle itself and recover will depend on the local weather conditions and the variety of grass.
  • It does not usually take long for the track to become invisible to the eye, but some blades of grass will remain depressed.
  • By very light and careful probing with the tips of your two little fingers, you will be able to detect these blades of grass by a resistance to your probing.
  • Compare this with the surrounding area. With care, you should be able to discern the overall shape of the track.
  • Track by “feeling” over dead leaves on damp ground for indentations if all else fails.


  • Humans do not have super hearing. It is easy to walk closely to someone in the woods without them hearing you. This is especially true when a wind is blowing or it is raining.
  • Good sound discipline is critical.
  • Do not speak, use hand signals. If you must speak, whisper.
  • Duct tape loose items to keep them from rattling.
  • Keep your equipment tightly cinched down to prevent rattling.
  • Keep canteens full to prevent sloshing.
  • Move carefully so as not to have brush drag against your clothing
  • Watch where you place your feet.
  • Minimize the sound of weapons being loaded, cocked, readied, etc.
  • Prevent radio bursts or radio crackling.
  • It is extremely difficult to move silently and quickly in most parts of the bush and consequently this requires a lot of practice and concentration.

The effects of wind on sound:

  • Wind affects how far a sound will carry. If the wind is blowing from the direction  of a trail you are following, sounds and odors are carried to you.
  • If the wind is blowing in the same direction as the trail you are following, you must be cautious as the wind will carry your sounds toward the subject(s).
  • When moving toward a subject, try to keep the wind in your face.
  • When evading, try to keep the wind at your back.
  • To find the wind direction, drop a handful of dry dirt or grass from shoulder height.
  • To help you decide where a sound is coming from, cup your hands behind your ears and slowly turn. When the sound is loudest, you are probably facing its origin.
  • Wind affects sounds if the wind is blowing toward the tracker, sounds and odors may be carried to him; conversely, if the wind is blowing away from the tracker, he must be extremely cautious since wind also carries sounds toward the enemy.
  • The tracker can determine wind direction by dropping a handful of dust or dried grass from shoulder height.
  • By pointing in the same direction the wind is blowing, the tracker can localize sounds by cupping his hands behind his ears and turning slowly. When sounds are loudest, the tracker is facing the origin.
  • In calm weather (no wind), air currents that may be too light to detect can carry sounds to the tracker.
  • Air cools in the evening and moves downhill toward the valleys. If the tracker is moving uphill late in the day
  • or at night, air currents will probably be moving toward him if no other wind is blowing.
  • As the morning sun warms the air in the valleys, it moves uphill. The tracker considers these factors when planning his movements.
  • If he keeps the wind in his face, sounds will be carried from the subject to the tracker.


  • After you have spent a few weeks away from the constant bombardment of smells from human habitation, your nose becomes more sensitive to odors.
  • You will never develop a sense of smell as effective as other animals, but you could smell a strong odor from as far away as twenty meters.
  • Eat nothing but indigenous foods for at least 48 hours prior to and during your mission.
  • This will help you conceal your odor, change the appearance and smell of your feces and urine to match that of the indigenous people.

Obvious factors which cause the subject to leave a strong scent include:

  • Blood
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Soiled clothes
  • Clothes washed with scented detergents
  • Scented soaps
  • Deodorants
  • Sweat
  • Panic
  • Tobacco (smoked or chewed)
  • Cologne
  • Food
  • Wood smoke

Leave these items at home.

Certain climatic factors which influence scenting conditions:

  • Favorable. Under the most favorable conditions, it will be quite feasible to follow tracks up to 12 hours old.
  • Air and ground temperatures approximately equal.
  • A mild dull day with a certain amount of moisture in the air with slow evaporation.
  • Ground overshadowed by trees, heavy growth of vegetation helps to combat the heat and retains more scent.
  • A greater amount of vegetation is damaged by a running enemy, thus producing an increased aroma.
  • A running subject who gives off more body odor than a subject who has walked away calmly.
  • Damp ground and vegetation.
  • An unclean subject.
  • Blood spilled on trail.

Adverse. Under unfavorable conditions, there may be no scent at all even if the quarry is only a few minutes ahead.

  • Passage of Time
  • Hot sun.
  • Strong winds. Helicopter and Aircraft Prop Wash
  • During and immediately after heavy rains.
  • Tarmac roads, rock and other hard surfaces.
  • Urban conditions
  • Dust.
  • Running water.
  • Scent from other animals
  • Bush fires

Bands of used motor oil, garlic, dead animals, etc. may be used to mask a hide site


  • A tracking stick can be useful to stay with an enemy element which, due to its small size, or the terrain is not leaving a clearly seen set of tracks.
  • Cut a stick at least the length of a stride.
  • Put the end of the stick at the base of the heel on a print and slide a rubber band up the stick where the print’s toe is.
  • This should allow you to put the bottom of the stick over the end of a print and have the rubber band end at the toe, showing the exact size of the print.
  • Now point the stick towards the next set of prints and slide a rubber band over the base of the heel of next print.
  • In this manner when you put your stick over a base print, the rubber band on the front of the stick should be located over where the next set of prints will be.
  • Before moving up from the base print to examine the subsequent set of tracks, look for the print, displaced vegetation or soil, scrapes or marks on trees higher up and so on.
  • There is plenty of sign to look for rather than just the prints, and the prints point you in the direction of travel.


  • The last individual in the file usually leaves the clearest footprints; these become the key prints.
  • Cut a stick to match the length of the prints and notches it to indicate the width at the widest part of the sole.
  • You can then study the angle of the key prints to the direction of march. Look for an identifying mark or feature, such as worn, damaged or frayed footwear, to identify the key prints.
  •  If the trail becomes vague, erased, or merges with another, use the stick-measuring devices to study and identify the key prints.
  • This method helps you to stay on the trail.


  • To see the greatest detail in a clear print you need contrast. This means the light striking the ground at a low angle.
  • Normally, this means that you are limited to tracking when the sun is low in the sky, during the morning hours and in late afternoon/early evening.
  • Around midday the light is almost directly overhead and casts a flat light, which makes ground features disappear. However, time may be against you in a tracking situation, forcing you to continue through the midday and sometimes even into the night.
  • This requires use of techniques that have been devised to control the light conditions to your advantage.
  • Ground conditions changing from flat to even the very gentlest slope may dramatically affect the available lighting .

Daylight tracking

  • Light is vital to the tracker. The best times to track are early morning or late afternoons, where the low angle of the sun brings up the track. When the sun is low in the sky, you can take advantage of the light just by positioning yourself correctly: make sure the track is between yourself and the light source by watching the shadows cast by your tracking stick. Probably the most common error of novice trackers is to align themselves incorrectly. Once you are in the correct position, it is often an advantage to lower your line of sight, sometimes even right down to the ground. Trackers will often miss sign if they do not squat down. As you become more proficient you will do this mainly for seeing the finer details or when the light is bad. If the target is moving directly away from the sun, to ‘follow up’ you will have to look back over your shoulder. This must be practiced, as it takes some getting used to. If you have to follow up through the mid-day period, you will have to slow down and be more careful, which is more tiring. You may be able to gain some lighting advantage by using your torch. A flashlight may need to be used when you are tracking in woodland where the light conditions can be very confusing, especially under dappled shadowing.


  • It is easier to track into the sun, than with it at your back This is because the sun casts a shadow on the indentations of the boot print, making it easier to see. When tracking away from the sun, this shadow cannot be seen so what you do is to track alongside of the spoor and occasionally look over your shoulder, down at the spoor. This gives you the same view as if you were tracking into the sun.

Night tracking

  • Night tracking is not always possible; it depends on the local ground conditions. Because you will be using artificial light you can precisely control the light angle. Wherever possible, try to position your light source low and with the track between yourself and the light. A torch with a variable focus beam can be advantage. It is possible to track using artificial light by securing a torch to the end of your tracking stick and holding the torch on one side of the track while you read it from the other. Here, poor lighting could result in the target being lost. At night your ability is handicapped by the change of colors to monochrome. Night tracking should only be used when a life is at risk or there is a high probability of changing of changing weather conditions obliterating the sign.


  • Direction of travel is determined with a compass. However, don’t immediately assume that the initial line of travel won’t change. In the short term, direction may be driven by local obstacles. It will usually take about two kilometers to accurately determine the true direction.
  • The direction of travel is indicated by the direction that brush or twigs have been bent or broken in.


  • Conservative estimate method (X Count)
  • Take the length of an average pace and measure it on the ground next to the tracks. Now lay out a space about 18 inches wide across the tracks so that the prints are enclosed in a box that is 36 inches by 18 inches. Count all the whole and partial prints in this box and then divide by a constant of two. If you count 10 prints inside the box, your answer is five people.
  • Empirical Estimate Method (Y Count)
  • As the number of prints increases, so does the probability that some prints have been obliterated by others prints. It is therefore useful to factor up the count. If the answer is four or less, use that number
  • If the answer is five prints, then add two to the number
  • If you read six, add two and report eight.
  • Should you discover a resting place, count the places on the ground and no matter what the number, add two.
  • This is a safety factor that seems to be right most of the time.
  • Under the right conditions, the two methods described above are reasonably accurate counting up to 18 persons.
  • Combining the above we can state “We are tracking a group of (X Count) to (Y Count)” and plan to engage accordingly.


  • The tracker looks for any available indicators that reveal an action occurred at a specific time and place. Tracks can last for years under the right circumstances. However, under most circumstances a track begins to deteriorate as soon as it has been formed. The wind and other climatic factors gradually cause the prominent features to collapse until no fine detail remains: in fact, a track with very defined features, such as a heavily-soled boot, will collapse and disappear faster than the track of a smooth-soled shoe. Tracks with well-defined features always appear to be fresher than smooth tracks.
  • Make an impression with your thumb in the ground along­side the track so that you can see how the soil behaves. Observe how a track deteriorates over time in different soil types and under different weather conditions.

Weather. The state of the weather (rain, wind, sunshine) should must be considered in determining the age of a track.

  • A footprint in soft sand is an often an excellent indicator, since a tracker can determine the approximate time the subject made the track based upon the degradation of the track.
  • Impression in mud. The dryness/wetness of a track in mud or soft ground may indicate the age of the track. If the track is very fresh, water will not have run back into the depression made by a foot. The water will run back later and later still the mud pushed up around the depression and kicked forward by the foot leaving the ground will begin to dry.
  • Obliteration by rain. By remembering when it last rained, more accurate judgment of the age of tracks is possible. If the tracks are pock­marked, they were obviously made before the rain and, if not pock-marked, they were made after the rain.
  • Footprints in soft ground begin to deteriorate around the edges within 2 hours depending on the humidity, sunlight, and wind.
  • When it’s very humid, the ground moist, and shaded, the edges of a track will not begin to crumble for at least eight hours.
  • If the track is on ground that is shaded until the sun rises over the surrounding trees, the sunlight will not begin to affect tracks until the sun has risen sufficiently.
  • If the wind is very calm and has been since the previous evening then little affect from wind will be evident.
  • Wind will blow debris into the track and increase the drying rate around the edges.
  • Damaged vegetation. An indication of the age of a track may be gained by the state of dryness of the bent or broken grass. Bent and broken grass will stay green to start with, but will turn brown after a day or so. Harder vegetation will take longer to change color. Bear in mind that full sunlight will speed up the process, and shade will slow it down. Rain will affect the time-scale too.
  • Game Tracks. Remember that most animals lie up during the day and move about at night. Therefore, if human prints on main forest game trails have at least a double set of animal spoor superimposed and these spoor show that the game has moved in both directions, any human prints are probably at least one night old. If the animal spoor show that game has moved in one direction only, then the human prints were probably made       during the night after the game had moved down to water but before the game moved back.
  • Grass blades will remain green for about a day after being broken.
  • Leaves or anything else lying on the ground will discolored and/or kill the grass underneath it within a few days. If the grass is not discolored, the object fell there recently.
  • A small green branch will be moist for 24 hours. As it dries, it will become sticky from sap secretions As more time passes the sap will harden.
  • Prints in mud will usually take about an hour to fill with water, depending on the amount of moisture in the earth.
  • Disturbed dew drops on grass and plants will indicate passage of something within the last few hours.
  • Dew usually stays on for about four hours after sunrise.
  • Overturned rocks take a couple of hours to dry in direct sun.
  • Cobwebs and spider webs usually take about an hour to be replaced by the insects.
  • Animal prints superimposed on the spoor will tell you that the spoor was made prior to nightfall, since most animals move at night. The reverse is also applicable; if you see the spoor on the animal prints, the spoor was made sometime after sunrise.
  • If it’s an animal track you’re on, look for signs that animals have walked on top of the human trail you’re following. Most animals move back and forth along these tracks, which usually lead from their day­time lairs to water holes, at night. If there is a double set of animal tracks, one in each direction, over the top of the human footprints, then they are at least a night old.
  • Broken twigs and vines are also good gauges of time since it requires about ten hours for the pulp inside to begin to turn brown.
  • Cracks in bent grass or leaves are green when fresh and turn brown after a few days
  • Leaves are always falling trees and bushes. The number of leaves that fall depends on wind and rain. By looking at the number of leaves covering the tracks and taking into consideration the amount of wind and rain during the past few days, another indication as to the age of tracks.
  • Age indicators that may show contact is imminent should cause the tracker to exercise extreme stealth and caution.


  • Wind dries tracks and blows litter, sticks, or leaves into prints. By recalling wind activity, the tracker may estimate the age of the tracks. However, he must be sure that the litter was not crushed into them when the prints were made.


  • If you lose the spoor, it is imperative that you go back to the last positive sign, confirm it, and then begin a search pattern to relocate the tracks. Go to the last confirmed spoor. This position is know as the LPC (last point of contact) and draw a line behind it, across the tracks. Stand behind the line, take time to survey the landscape in front of you, then ask yourself “Where would I go if I were walking along here?” Look for the logical line of advance, and then go check it out If you find the spoor again, continue to track. If not, go back to your line and do a 360 degree circle. Using your last confirmed spoor as your starting point, walk 15 meters forward and walk in a circle around your point looking for tracks. Keep enlarging this circle until tracks are found, then continue tracking.


  • In the 360-degree method, the tracker makes ever increasing circles from his last confirmed tracks back to his point of origin. When you lose spoor, be patient and keep looking. Some trackers have been known to circle as far as five kilometers from the last confirmed spoor until they cut the trail of their prey.


  • Drag marks could indicate wounded.
  • Meandering tracks, increased vegetation being broken, dragging footprints are all indicative of the subject approaching exhaustion.
  • If the trail is erratic or circuitous, the subject may be walking in the dark.
  • Discipline can be judged by the amount and type of debris left along the track. Cigarette butts, candy wrappers, indicate poor discipline. An absolute lack of debris may indicate excellent discipline.
  • When he halts does the sign indicate that they establish security behind good cover and concealment?
  • Do they dogleg their route?
  • Do they cross dangerous areas or do they skirt them?
  • Work to understand your enemy, his motives, aspirations, traits, habits, tactics, and attitudes, and you will gain an important tactical edge over him.
  • Look for patterns of the enemy in general and specific commanders in particular.
  • Watch his standard operating procedures and note his responses to your tactics.
  • Absorb every piece of information available to you about your enemy.

Counter tracking

  • The subject may hole up and allow the passage of time to erase his tracks. Look for hides:
  • Select a place for your hide that provides natural concealment, then augment it as necessary.
  • Dug underground at bank of a river – spoil thrown into the river and the entrance concealed.
  • Caves under waterfalls
  • Spider holes dug under structures capable of holding a few men, having small concealed entrances.
  • Between the roots of large trees.
  • The shells of large burnt-out trees are sometimes used as sentry boxes or observation posts.
  • Lie-ups where no form of construction is erected, the subject merely lying up under naturally thick cover.
  • Hides may be placed in thick dry cover (dry leaves and dry twigs that crunch or snap when stepped upon) in order to provide an early warning of someone’s approach.
  • Hides may be placed next to obstacles such as logs or rocks so that a people will go around the hide rather than over it.

Spider Holes

  • A spider hole provides excellent cover and concealment.
  • Dig the hole deep enough so that you don’t have to bend to hide.
  • Leave a step that will raise you up to shooting level.
  • You must hide the dirt from the hole. Don’t leave it in a pile nearby. Isolated piles of
  • dirt look suspicious, whether you cover them with leaves or not.
  • A nearby stream will wash the dirt away.
  • Be careful not to leave tracks or fresh dirt near the bank.
  • If you dig into the side of a small rise, you may be able to disguise the dirt as part of the rise.
  • Then you won’t have to tromp around the area of your hide, leaving sign.
  • This bush will die and must be replaced. Pick a variety (if there is one) which is naturally dry looking. You will have to experiment with the vegetation in the area to determine which plant looks live the longest.
  • Preserving the root ball  will help keep the plant fresh.
  • Infrared equipment can detect your body heat at night.
  • This equipment can be hand held or mounted on a vehicle or aircraft.
  • A spider hole with a lid covered with dirt and camouflage to pull over you when the security forces pass by will prevent detection.
  • A good shrub with intact root ball works well as a lid.
  • When an aircraft is involved you must be very quick to do this before they can spot your movement.
  • Aircraft crews will only spot you if there is a heat differential or if you move.
  • During daylight the worst thing you can do is move. Freeze, don’t move, wait until the aircraft passes.


  • Conduct a methodical search of the area around your position.
  • Use a pattern to keep from missing anything. Sweep from the left edge of the area at maximum range and slowly sweep to the right and then back, decreasing the range until you sweep the area immediately adjacent to your position.
  • DO NOT neglect to sweep the zone close to your hide.
  • It is very easy to become complacent and assume that there is no one close to you.


  • Pay special attention to camouflage.
  • Secure all your gear, discard the inessentials. Carry food, water, and ammunition and go as light as possible.
  • Some trackers dress like the enemy and use captured weapons.
  • This is helpful if you are tracking outside your own country and into enemy-dominated countries.
  • Exercise caution. Trackers  have been shot in error by their own troops.
  • Beware of ambush If a track that has been quite distinct suddenly becomes much more difficult to follow, without any particular reason such as a change in the nature of the ground, the most likely conclusion is that the enemy has become extra careful and is preparing to go to ground, either in a lying-up place or perhaps in ambush.
  • Ideally you will have at least two heavily armed, capable people covering you as you are tracking.
  • If you are ‘solo tracking’. you may trail your target to within touching distance. To reduce risks, self-defense and close-quarter battle skills are vital.
  • Covering his tracks will cost the enemy precious time. If you can stay right behind him you will wear him down. Tired men make mistakes, If you pursue too fast you may miss his signs and lose him.


  • While tracking, the tracker must be constantly alert for booby traps and possible ambush sites, If your tracking is successful, at some point you will be catching up with the subject, and it’s not a good idea to be caught off guard. when you make contact.
  • When you find a set of tracks, establish a SLLS halt.  (that’s stop, look, listen, smell and watch your perimeter!).  After being satisfied that the subject is not in the immediate area carefully move forward for a look.


  • Make sure you have someone covering you and don’t step out in the open. Be patient, don’t rush in, track someone down and engage from 100 meters out. Get an element in front of them and others to their flanks to set up ambushes in favorable terrain.
  • As you close the distance, make sure to keep your cover group informed, otherwise they may not be alert, which will put all your lives at risk. Tracking is like reeling in a fish: you have to be careful not to move too fast. Gradually close in on the target until you establish visual contact (binoculars can be useful here), and radio in their exact  location. It is here that your task will normally end, with the deployment of a fire force.
  • Possible ambush sites should be approached with extreme caution and cleared before passing near them. Examples are small hills, thick bushes, narrow defiles, etc..
  • Look on either side of the track for signs of disturbance.
  • Be observant and try to see things that are not obvious at first glance Develop a feel for things that do not look right
  • Suspect everything. If you come across evidence such as dropped or discarded equipment, treat it as a probable booby-trap.
  • As you follow the trail, pay attention to all types of sign, not just the tracks. Stop to look around and listen every few  trackers are frequently shot because they spend too long looking at the ground! Try to pay equal attention to the ground on each side of the trail: you may detect sign that indicates the target is aware of your presence.
  • Never assume your enemy is stupid. Smart soldiers will follow tracks and examine any debris left behind. However, they will send out security elements to their right and left flanks just in case you double back to ambush them. If they suspect an ambush, as in the case where sign looks too obvious or debris appears to have been intentionally planted, they will determine the most likely spots for your hide, then circle around to attack you.
  • Keep it simple. Use common sense. Do not try to set a trap by leaving an interesting object or clue behind you and set up an ambush on that spot. A trained tracker will look at it with suspicion and sweep the flanks for an ambush before he recovers the article. ANY sign you leave WILL be used to track you down and kill you. Set up the ambush on a section of tracks that is difficult to follow. The tracker will have to slow down to follow the trail.


  • Evading a skilled and persistent tracker requires  immediate-action drills and skillfully executed maneuvers to deceive the tracker and to cause him to lose the trail. A tracker typically cannot be outrun because he travels light and is escorted by enemy forces designed for pursuit. A subject who tries to hide his trail moves at reduced speed. Therefore, the experienced tracker gains time.
  • Remember, above all, that the subject is bound to leave some signs of his passage, no matter how small. Fresh scratches on rock and stones or logs overturned, tiny sprays of sand or loose dry earth, any signs of disturbance can give you valuable information.
  • Keep in mind there are those who can track you no matter what techniques you employ. In such cases, since you can’t outwit the enemy tracker, you can buy yourself some time through deception and a consistently fast rate of march that will keep you one step ahead. Hopefully you will avoid contact until dusk, at which lime he will literally have to stop dead in your tracks. You, on the other hand, continue to make tracks, but in a night march, slipping farther away in the process.
  • The human eye is well equipped to detect motion. A stationary man, under even light cover, is difficult to spot from the air or the ground. A man (or group of men) that is moving is readily discernible. Keep absolutely still if you can be directly observed.
  • You may be the one being tracked some day, so give some thought to covering your trail.
  • Possibilities include but are not limited to:
  • A good woodsman leaves nothing behind for a tracker to follow.
  • Pick a route where the ground is firm and covered by grass, leaves, etc. Tie the burlap around your foot gear.
  • Remember different armies may have different tread designs. Burlap will keep your prints unrecognizable.
  • Wear the same boots as the enemy, if you are operating in his territory. If he goes barefoot you could be in for some tough going.
  • Stay off soft ground. A tracker will be able to tell if you passed through soft ground.
  • Use animals or cattle to cover your tracks.
  • Move in the rain if possible.
  • Use all the features of the country you are crossing to make the tracker’s job more difficult. Hard or rocky ground, streams and water courses, irregular habits, backtracking, changing shoes, even swinging from tree to tree.
  • Use streams and rivers, hard dry roads or railways to cover your spoor.
  • Walk on rocky or hard ground.
  • Move through villages to get lost in the tracks. (Note: If you are desperate enough to try to penetrate a village, do so very carefully at night and only as a last resort.)
  • Split up or bombshell and circle back and RV (rendezvous).
  • If dogs are after you, try using CS or tear gas powder or pepper laced with ammonia on your tracks.
  • If you can, booby trap and ambush your trail.
  • Remain as faraway from the tracker as the situation allows.
  • Urinate and or defecate in a deep hole and cover it up.
  • Never smoke.
  • Carry all trash until it can be buried elsewhere.
  • Avoid the edge of cover and concealment zones near the target areas
  • Avoid all man-made trails or roads and confuse the tracker. These routes are normally magnetic
  • azimuths between two points.
  • Walk around brush, rather than through it, reducing both noise and physical signs of movement.
  • Wrap footgear with rags or wear soft-soled sneakers, which make footprints rounded and less distinctive.
  • Brush out your tracks with bushes, hats, or neck scarves. This can rarely be done without leaving signs an experienced tracker will see.
  • Change into footgear with a different following a deceptive maneuver.
  • Think when moving. Do not relax.
  • Do not become regular in habit. Avoid the obvious.
  • Watch the nature of the country carefully and use types of ground which are difficult to track in.
  • Use weather to advantage, that is, move in rain.
  • Carry a stick with which to bend grass and branches back.
  • On special operations, to increase deception, wear smooth-soled shoes which leave less distinctive prints, or go barefoot or use motor-tire sandals.
  • Walk on the side of the foot when necessary as this leaves no heel or toe marks.
  • Cross tracks, roads or streams by crossing in trees or on rocks. if this is not possible when crossing a wide sandy track or road, cross at one place, each man stepping carefully on the footprints of the
  • leading man, thereby leaving only one set of prints.
  • Be careful with Smokey fires, tobacco smell, soap in streams or rivers, bird and game alarms or insect or frog silences.
  • Do not be too tempted to use water as a line of movement, as this is
  • where the enemy will probably search or look for signs of security
  • forces in the area.
  • With a large party, where possible, avoid moving in single file as
  • this will leave definite signs and a track. move in open formation
  • instead.
  • Stay in the stream for one hundred to two hundred meters.
  • Stay in the center of the stream and in deep water.
  • Watch for rocks or roots near the banks that are not covered with moss or vegetation and leave the stream at that point.
  • Walk out backward on soft ground.
  • Walk up a small, vegetation covered tributary and exit from it.
  • One of the best ways to avoid being tracked is to kill the tracker! Sniper fire, a well-placed booby trap, or doing a dogleg and ambushing your own tracks will definitely take the fighting edge off a tracking group.
  • If you know your group is being pursued, consider splitting up or “bombshelling” in opposite directions. Smaller units are much more difficult to track than a large group.
  • Walk backward in tracks already made, and then stepping off the trail onto terrain or objects that leave little sign. Skillful use of this maneuver causes the tracker to look in the wrong direction once he has lost the trail.
  • Change directions at large trees. Moves in any given direction and walks past a large tree (12 inches wide or larger) from 5 to 10 paces. He carefully walks backward to the forward side of the tree and makes a 90-degree change in the direction of travel, passing the tree on its forward side. This technique uses the tree as a screen to hide the new trail from the pursuing tracker.
  • Cut the Corner. Cut-the-corner technique is used when approaching a known road or trail. About 100 meters from the road, the sniper team changes its direction of movement, either 45 degrees left or right. Once the road is reached, the sniper team leaves a visible trail in the same direction of the deception for a short distance on the road. The tracker should believe that the sniper team “cut the corner” to save time. The sniper team backtracks on the trail to the point where it entered the road, and then it carefully moves on the road without leaving a good trail. Once the desired distance is achieved, the sniper team changes direction and continues movement
  • Slip the Stream. The sniper team uses slip-the-stream technique when approaching a known stream. The sniper team executes this method the same as the cut the comer technique. The sniper team establishes the 45-degree deception maneuver upstream, then enters the stream. The sniper team moves upstream to prevent floating debris and silt from compromising its direction of travel, and the sniper team establishes false trails upstream if time permits. Then, it moves downstream to escape since creeks and streams gain tributaries that offer more escape alternatives
  • Arctic Circle. The sniper team uses the arctic circle technique in snow-covered terrain to escape pursuers or to hide a patrol base. It establishes a trail in a circle as large as possible. The trail that starts on a road and returns to the same start point is effective. At some point along the circular trail, the sniper team removes snowshoes (if used) and carefully steps off the trail, leaving one set of tracks. The large tree maneuver can be used to screen the trail. From the hide position, the sniper team returns over the same steps and carefully fills them with snow one at a time. This technique is especially effective if it is snowing.
  • Fishhook. The sniper team uses the fishhook technique to double back (Figure 8-11) on its own trail in an overwatch position. The sniper team can observe the back trail for trackers or ambush pursuers. If the pursuing force is too large to be destroyed, the sniper team strives to eliminate the tracker. The sniper team uses the hit-and-run tactics, then moves to another ambush position. The terrain must be used to advantage.
  • Hides under the water and breathing through a reed can work assuming murky water, an adequate diameter reed, the reed is not more than 6″ long so the tube does not fills up with your exhaled breath and you do not die from hypothermia. This is an absolutely desperate move.
  • Information regarding insurgents’ methods of concealing tracks and camps should also be sought.
  • There are certain factors which affect tracking:
  • Whether the ground is hard or soft, stony or muddy.
  • The type of country – Savannah or Forest.
  • The weather – things lack depth in overcast weather.
  • The position of the sun relative to the direction of travel.
  • The most suitable position is when one has to track towards the sun.
  • The footwear the subject is wearing. A distinct boot pattern is obviously easier to follow than a plain soled spoor.
  • The extent to which other similar tracks may confuse and possibly blur the spoor.
  • Concentration and the effects of weariness.
  • Things the tracker must look for:
  • Footprints and impressions of footwear; the rhythm of the spoor or length of stride of the quarry.
  • This is a guide to where the next footprint can be found.
  • Disturbed stones, sticks or soil. Marks in the soil where indirect pressure may have left no impression.
  • Counter tracking search dog teams
  • If they are searching for you with dogs, determine if the dogs are “scent trackers” or “air trackers”.xx
  • Run the dogs through areas where there are many scents to confuse them. Dung heaps, compost piles, garbage dumps, chemical waste.
  • Determine if the dogs are on a leash. If they are, and you can run them through dense brush. The dogs will get the leash tangled in the brush. It will not bother the dogs. It will delay, frustrate and exhaust the dog handler.
  • If they take the dog off the leash, the dog may get sufficiently in front of the handler that you can kill it. This will certainly make the dog handler will think twice about sending another dog. This is particularly true if you take the dogs hind quarters for food. It sends a clear psychological message to the trackers that they pursue you at your own risk.
  • Do not attempt to evade a dog team by walking in a stream. You will stumble and injure your lower extremities and or fall in and risk hypothermia.


The types of war dogs include:

  •           Patrol dog.
  •           Tracking dog.
  •           Mine detection dog.
  •           Guard dog.
  •           Crowd control dog

Mine Detection Dog

  • This animal is trained to detect mines, booby traps, tunnels, hides or ammunition caches. The scout dog is trained to detect and sit within two feet of any hostile artifact hidden below or above ground, to discover tripwires, caches, tunnels and “punji pits,” and to clear a safe lane approximately eight to ten meters wide. A commander who properly employs a scout dog team can rely on the dog to safely discover approximately 90 percent of all hostile artifacts along his line of march. This depends, naturally, on the state of training of the animal. Since this animal is a specialist in its own right, it is vitally important that this team be provided with adequate protection while working. It may be necessary to make use of the patrol dog to give this added protection.

Guard Dog

  • General. The role of the guard dog is to give greater security to guarded installations. Because the dog’s senses are more acute during hours of darkness and when distracting influences during these hours are reduced to a minimum, its use should be directed towards the replacement or supplementing of night sentries or guards. They can be used to protect sensitive points and other installations.

The Patrol Dog

  • A patrol dog works by “air scent” and hearing, and is trained to give silent warning of any individual or group of individuals by pointing. He is typically not taught to attack and cannot be used as a tracker. The patrol dog is therefore useful for giving silent warning of ambushes, attempts at infiltration, and the presence of any “foreign body,” before such presence can be detected by a human. He can be worked either by day or by night, in most kinds of weather and country.

The Tracking Dog

  • Tracker dogs may be used to help track a subject. A dog tracks human scent and the scent of disturbed vegetation caused by man’s passing. A dog can track faster than a man, and it can track at night. A tracker dog is trained not to bark and give away its handler’s position. Dogs have acute senses of smell, good hearing, and are attracted quickly to movement. Dogs can, depending on weather and wind, sense the subject two hundred meters away.
  • Tracking dogs are trained to follow human ground scent. The principle on which the dogs are trained is one of reward by food. The dog is never fed in kennels but only after work, i.e., a successful track.

These dogs can be deployed:

  • Run on a leash under direct control of a handler and used as a prowler guard within the installation or along the perimeter of the installation being protected.
  • Run loose within a building or fenced-in area.
  • Run on a wire” whereby the animal can move freely within the area of its beat.
  • Run loose in dog runs on the perimeter of the key point or installation.
  • They can alert the guards or dog handler by barking, or the more vicious type is taught to attack any intruder immediately.
  • The best defenses are basic infantry techniques: good camouflage, light, noise, and trash discipline.


  • Dogs typically find a hide by detecting a trail or by a point source such as human waste odors at the hide site. It is critical to try to obscure or limit trails around the hide, especially along the wood line or area closest to the team’s target area.
  • If pursued by a dog/handler tracking team first check wind direction and speed.
  • If you are downwind of the dog the chances are minimal that your point smells will be detected.
  • If upwind of the search area attempt to move downwind.
  • Terrain and visibility dictate whether you can move without being detected visually by the handlers of the
  • tracking team.
  • Tracker and search dog elimination
  • You have a small chance of hiding and escaping detection in deep brush or in woodpiles.
  • Larger groups will almost certainly be found.
  • If the search gets too close, it may be necessary to eliminate the handler and the dog to escape the
  • search net.
  • If you are not able to use a firearm, a single dog can still be eliminated easily with a knife or large club. You must keep low and strike upward using the wrist, never overhand. Dogs are quick and will try to strike the groin or legs. Most attack dogs are trained to go for the groin or throat. Eliminating two or more dogs without a firearm is far more risky and should be avoided.
  • Use the dogs ability to track you to your advantage and their disadvantage. Leave a personal item as bait for the dog with traps set to cripple or kill the dog and the handler.
  • Under favorable conditions, a tracking dog can discern the scent you left in the air and the scent clinging to things you came close to or touched.
  • Tracking dogs do not have to sniff the ground where you walked unless the trail is several hours old. A good trail dog may be able to follow a trail over 24 hours old!
  • However, the tracking dog can be defeated by using chemical agents against them.
  • Cayenne pepper has been used as a chemical agent against tracking dogs.
  • During World War II, the OSS issued packets with a mixture of dried blood and cocaine as a countermeasure against tracking dogs. The blood was used to provide a smell which would attract the dogs attention. The cocaine would anesthetize the dogs olfactory system.
  • Substituting a poison such as strychnine or cyanide in place of the cocaine could provide a more cost effective, more permanent solution.
  • If pursued, sprinkle the agent on your track and on plants to the sides of your path.
  • The tracking dog will breathe in the agent and will be taken out of action.
  • This provides a window for you to put distance between you and the pursuers or ambush them and kill them.
  • Sprinkling cayenne powder around the area in a circle around your hide, may keep animals away.
  • A military grade tracker dog may be trained to avoid baits, cover odors, and deodorants used to throw it off the ‘track.
  • If pursued, if the chemical agents are not effective is may be necessary to either try to outdistance or double back and ambush the tracker group.



This is a series of notes I made from several sources:

THE best website on tracking and countertracking is

If you are really interested in tracking, this is your guy. The site also has an amazing amount of material on the counterinsurgency war in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). It is a heartbreaking case of winning the battle while losing the war due to the governments lack of political resolve.

Tom Brown is perhaps the worlds greatest expert on tracking and wrote the best book on the subject:

Tom Brown’s Science and Art of Tracking.

Again, if you are really interested in tracking, buy it and read it.

Other great information on tracking and countertracking came from the USMC manuals on scouting and sniping.



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