Tracking Quotes

“The first track is the end of a string.  At the far end, a being is moving; a mystery, dropping a hint about itself every so many feet, telling you more about itself until you can almost see it, even before you come to it.  The mystery reveals itself slowly, track by track, giving its genealogy early to coax you in.  Further on, it will tell you the intimate details of its life and work, until you know the maker of the track like a lifelong friend.” (Tom Brown Jr., The Tracker)

“Use your five senses and you’ll develop a sixth sense.  Learn to hear voices in the wind, music in mountain streams and bird song.  Fall asleep at night listening to the call of the owl or the whip-poor-will and dream dreams with the animals as your dream companions – dreams so vivid, so real, they will not be dreams, they will be visions.” (by Ingwe as retold by Jon Young)

“For me, tracking is an educational process that opens the door to an animal’s life – and to our own.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“Many tracking books use the analogy of the earth as paper, the animals as writers, and the tracks and trails as the letters and words left behind for those who are fluent in the language and willing to pause and read.  Tracks and trails are truly a script for those with trained senses, and they tell many stories rich in drama, suspense, mystery, love and sometimes horror.” (Mark Elbroch, Mammal Tracks and Sign)

“Tracking is like dancing, because your body is happy.  It tells you hunting will be good.  You feel it in the dance.  It tells you when you love tracking and dancing, you are talking with God.” (!Ngate Xgamxebe, Bushman Tracker, from the documentary The Great Dance)

“Never forget the trail, look ever for the track in the snow; it is the priceless, unimpeachable record of the creature’s life and thought, in the oldest writing known on the earth.” (Ernest Thompson Seton, from Mammal Tracks and Sign)

“The competent tracker is both scientist and storyteller. You must critically observe, collect good data, and avoid rash conclusions, as well as use your imagination to interpret and celebrate the signs you’ve discovered.” (Mark Elbroch, Mammal Tracks and Sign)

“To me, tracks are an animal’s signature, a way in which it communicates to the world.”  (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“To the accomplished tracker, each day’s new landscape is like a new page, alive with the writings of animals.” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“Everything that moves on the earth leaves a story.” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“With each discovery, your own tracks become more deeply entwined in the mystery you are following.  Eventually, you absorb so many clues that the mystery and its answer are bound up inside you.  The animal comes alive in your imagination.” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“Through tracking, we can find coyote fortresses, learn the language of the forest, and become intimate with an animal’s life.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“I start off through wet snow.  I have no idea what I am going to track today.  I’ll take whatever nature offers.  This not knowing is a wonderful feeling.  Too often our lives are goal-oriented and structured, full of striving and wanting and needing things.  Goals provide us with a sense of security.  If we have a blueprint of what we have to do for the day, it gives us a pattern to follow.  We create patterns because they’re familiar and safe.  But living old patterns can take us out of the present and dull our awareness, the quality of attention that keeps us alive from moment to moment.  It’s a wonderful feeling, for me at least, to break patterns and feel the freedom that ensues.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“To an experienced tracker, every disturbance and irregularity on the landscape is a track.  Every mark is the signature of an animal, plant, mineral, or some atmospheric, geologic or mechanical force. A glacial valley is as much a track as the footprint of a fox” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“Most tracks dwell on the interface between the earth and the sky, and many are not easy to see.  Weather and gravity conspire to erase them.  The earth tries to be flat.  Yet there is hardly a square foot of ground that is absolutely flat.  Every depression, every bump, every fissure, and every scratch on the landscape was made by something.  Whether it was made by  a rabbit, mouse, bulldozer, fish, frog, or volcano, it is the tracker’s job to notice and interpret it.” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“The ideal attitude of the tracker is that of a detective.  One of the reasons I love to read Sherlock Holmes is that he thinks like a tracker.  He lets nothing go unexamined.  He is constantly observing, sifting through facts and evidence, piecing puzzles together, solving mysteries.” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“If you track fast enough, you eventually reach the end and find a set of prints with the animal’s feet still in them.” (Tom Brown Jr., Nature Observation and Tracking)

“We expend a tremendous amount of intellectual energy attempting to figure out why, the reasons for the way things are.  When my students ask Why? I tell them to wait and watch and observe.  I tell them to pay attention and remain open to what the forest is showing them.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“Stalking involves inching your way through the forest, spending more time stopped than moving, all the while being incredibly attentive to and aware of everything around you. (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“At its core, stalking has more to do with stillness than with movement.  It is about slowing down and blending in.  It is the ability to melt into the forest.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“Stalking allows people to drop their everyday personae, until the forest no longer realizes that they’re there.  When you become the forest, when you’re silent inwardly and outwardly, the forest starts to wake up, to move.  It’s amazing what can happen.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)

“In order to melt into the forest, a quality of attention is necessary to allow what you normally think of as “you” to disappear, like the Chesire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.  When “you” disappears, something else, something that is larger and intensely alive, comes to the fore.  This is the wild within.” (Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within)


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