The know-how not only includes a thorough knowledge of tracks, trails and sign, but also draws on the natural history, anatomy, and behavioural characteristics of animals and the environment. There is no doubt a primitive aspect to these skills, drawing on basic perceptions with minimal (if any) interference by technology, offering a welcome break from our ever-growing dependence to the online world. Ultimately, tracking is about the uncontaminated relationship between the tracker and the surrounding wilderness.
Some starting tips to keep in mind:
An understanding of basic ecological concepts is important.
Learn to consciously recognize unfamiliar parts of the landscape; create a habit of seeking out unfamiliar aspects of one’s surroundings, or consciously alter the physical vantage point you observe the landscape from.
Focus on the big picture. One of the most effective ways to recognize patterns and relationships is to sit down and just watch the entire landscape without focusing on any one detail in particular. This allows us to recognize macropatterns which are larger than the detailed sphere of one’s normal awareness.
Give time for processing perceptions and information (minutes to hours to days depending on the scale of your goals). It takes time for the senses to wander and truly learn the landscape.
Have some familiarity with the landscape. Gain experience of the area by means of trial or accompaniment of an elder tracker with a profound knowledge of the area/s.
Though in written form it may sound farfetched, an awareness of one’s instinctual feelings about the landscape and perceptions can help bring attention to things which you may be aware of on a subconscious level.
Understanding in a relational sense involves making connections, rather than just making recognitions. Being able to compare one observation to another or to theoretical knowledge is vital.