When reading an article by the legendary Jim Lowery at EarthSkills about Tracking and the Four Directions it struck me how right he was. In his article Jim talks about describing our natural tracking perferences in terms of the Medicine Wheel. He talks about how we recognise what natural bias we have – and to celebrate this – but to also work on the other styles of tracking in order to become a better tracker. I instantly recognised that I had a major preferred style in what he described and understood why it was that I felt blind when trying to adopt another style when needed.
According to this interpretation there are four types of tracker. The following is my take on it. Its my take because I have directly observed or used all these methods but certainly struggle at three of them!
The perspective tracker – this tracker sees and feels the shapes and patterns in the landscape. They wander paths and see the view through the eyes of the animal they follow. They can almost see the land from the air in great wideangle perspective like a contoured map. They feel where the animal goes by reading the land and understanding – as that animal – where they have gone. I recognise this tracker. This is my natural self.
The micro tracker – its all in the detail. This tracker lives the animal’s life vicariously through every nuance of each and every track. These trackers can peel back the layers of sign, revealing more and more information in excited discovery. Even the slightest disturbance in the baseline or substrate the tracker notices it.
The sense tracker – these trackers can feel the energy of a track and intuitively know there the animal is heading. These trackers can not only feel the force of a single track but the energy of an area and sense where an animal may have been and gone. These trackers rely on inner vision, a sixth sense telling them the way to go. Many indigenous trackers have this remarkable gift.
The literal tracker – these trackers do not let doubt or previous assumptions cloud their judgement. They just look at a disturbance and see the track for what it is, accept it, not judge it or doubt it or reason with it – the more you do that the more your vision gets clouded. These trackers see what they see – no more and no less. They see things in ‘the present’ and not clouded with a busy mind. It is empty and clear. Every track is seen as for the first time and they gain their energy and excitment from this innocent approach. The direction of the trail is clear to them because ‘it just is’. Children often exhibit this gift. I know, my son does.
So which tracker are you?