Life Pattern Awareness: Tracking For Hearth and Home
Vigilance of the Tracker
You are your family’s keeper and protector. Ingrained in us are amazing protective abilities to ensure the safety, preservation, and quality of life for the ones we love. If I could sum this up in one word it would be ‘vigilance’. Vigilance is enduring awareness. It is the choice to adopt almost unnoticeable, non-invasive daily measures that can help deter, detect, and defeat a threat to your family’s peace and prosperity.
Now notice the mention of the words unnoticeable and non-invasive. When you delve into security measures which change the way you and your family live you’re going to naturally meet friction, which can over time reduce the effectiveness and overall value of said measure. You’re also in that very dangerous zone of HYPERVIGILANCE. You are robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Hypervigilance is exhausting and unhealthy. With this theory on vigilance and self-protection, I’ll offer insight and instruction on how visual tracking skills can help secure the safety of your family and property.
Visual tracking is a proven skill, and with a little research one will find this skill is alive and well in America and the U.K. There are more trained trackers in our military and L.E. agencies today than ever in history. This is because tracking is essential to environmental awareness, and environmental awareness keeps warriors alive. So if those in our society who stand ready to defend our country and communities are getting trained in this skill, won’t you also consider it? The objective of this lesson is to make you “track aware” in order to detect unwelcomed human traffic, deter violators of explicit visual barriers, and defeat those who violate our physical boundaries.
The career criminal is a coyote. Of all the mammals in North America, the coyote is arguably the most successful predator. The coyote is successful because he is a highly evasive low contrast creature. He is a hunter, scavenger, semi-nomadic, omnivore. He moves in the shadows of our society preying on smaller, weaker inhabitants and stealing from the stronger ones.
The coyote is not a wolf, though. The wolf is a functioning member of a clan, honoring and upholding the social norms within society, a protector of his kin and model custodian of his designated property. So when the prey that the Coyote violates turns out to be a wolf, we get a glimpse of true justice. The tracker is that wolf.
TRAP TRACKS in TRACK TRAPS
The skill of a tracker is more than just following a trail. The tracker monitors soils within his area of interest and builds an overall picture of the life patterns of those who move through or dwell in an area. This gives a tracker the ability to seemingly be everywhere, to see into the past, present and in some cases the future. So this would be the first step that you would take if you wish to become track aware.
Around your immediate dwelling or home, identify all avenues of approach. Along these avenues of approach there are large and small track traps. Track traps are any area which reveals visual evidence of a human foot print. It can be as small as a dime, like a small collection of soil that has built up on concrete after rain. It can be natural or man-made substances like vehicle fluids or sand. These avenues of approach should have sufficient track traps so that if someone approaches along that path it would be highly likely that they would hit one of these track traps.
You can place track traps around your home if there aren’t enough. I like to place and monitor track traps in two specific areas in relation to my home. I monitor proximal and distal track traps to identify who enters my property. Proximal track traps are placed near entry points to a home, for example at the bottom of steps, near doors, or below windows. Entry points like doors are usually preceded by choke points which guide visitors in a specific direction. At these choke points would be another area to place a track trap within proximal distance. Be advised, proximal track traps are in common areas and will take much maintenance depending on your own family’s frequency of travel in these areas. Proximal track traps can reveal the intent, height, gender, and weight of a subject.
Intent: At which entry was the track found? Solicitors don’t knock on windows or side doors, they approach the front door where they’re expected. They aren’t snooping around looking in windows; criminals display this type of behavior. Criminals generally ride along the shadows of walls in hours of low light.
Height: A tracker can estimate height by producing a bracket based on shoe size, stride, gait, and other marks and impressions. One technique is to take the length of an unknown print in inches and divide by two. So a size 12 on the ground will generally produce a man of average height 5’ 10’’- 6’. Be aware that the size in inches doesn’t translate to shoe size on the ground, so you’re going to need to practice with various types of footwear. For instance, the insulation of a winter boot gives it more mass, so a running shoe of the same size will appear dramatically smaller even when it’s the same shoe size.
I monitor proximal and distal track traps around my home to identify who enters my property — many of my students do, as well.
Gender: There are many techniques to determining gender, but the most commonsense methods are evaluating shoe size and type.
Weight: Determining weight is a very difficult task, but with much practice we can come up with an estimate within twenty pounds. We do this by looking at three main things: the length of the stride during a natural walk, the width of the straddle while walking and standing still, and the single footprint. The average stride of a human is 30 inches from left foot to right foot. It will range from 26 to 34 inches. The straddle is the distance measured from the inside portion of one foot to the inside portion of the next foot (the gap between our legs). The single foot reveals weight in two areas: the floor or bottom of the track and the wall or the sides. The floor displays how pressure is transferred, and a person of natural weight will transfer this pressure from heel to toe in a common way. First the heel strikes during the stance phase of a walk. The weight is transferred along the outside third of the foot with the ankle displaying pressure to the outside (pronated). Then the weight is transferred past the arch to the ball. At the ball the ankle then rolls to a supinated position (inside) and now the weight is transferred or rolled to the inside at the ball behind the big toe. At the toe the stance phase is terminated and the foot pushes back to propel the body forward.
Distal track traps are traps located at the edges of a property. You will find less traffic here, and this traffic will usually be vehicle and foot traffic moving mostly in two directions (in and out). Distal track traps are larger in surface area and for this reason can yield more profiling information. The goal is to link those who enter with an entry or viewpoint into the house. If your property is surrounded by dirt, then you have a 360-degree trap you can monitor. Most people do not, so you’ll have to be selective. This is how I suggest going about choosing which track trap areas to monitor. First, consider that most burglaries occur during hours of daylight. If you want to move across a populated area during the day without being conspicuous, how would you move? You would walk on sidewalks, cross at cross walks, and carry yourself in a manner that reflects the rest of the pedestrian traffic. If you wanted to move across a populated area without being noticed at all, you’d move at night. You’d move along buildings concealed by the shadows, walk through alleys or easements, hop walls, jump fences, and crawl through culverts or sewers, avoiding light and areas where most people are expected to be seen.
With that in mind, assess your perimeter security for entry during the day and night. I monitor distal track traps located at my driveway and paths of least resistance coming onto the property. I “drag” these areas with a rake in order to erase old marks and impressions and collect new ones. This allows me to know exactly how long tracks have been laid. If you have a large property to drag then you can use an ATV or truck to drag something like a tree branch to create a trap. If someone is going to approach during the day to test your security, they are most likely to approach just like any other solicitor. But if they’re going to approach during hours of low light, then they have more options. So asses your security just like you would in the cover of darkness. When it gets dark have your home in its normal evening state, i.e. indoor and outdoor lighting on or off as usual, blinds and curtains up or down, pets inside or outside as usual. Have all inhabitants doing what they would normally do. Now seek traps that would provide an approach or observational viewpoint to your home. Create an overhead sketch of the whole property indicating these areas to monitor.
Tracker Foot Print Log
Once you’re comfortable that you’ve established an effective track trap plan, you’re ready to put it to use. Create a log that has all prints of family members or associates who frequent your home. You can do this by sketching, photographing, or stamping their footprints to be kept on file. Make sure to have their names and foot print makes and model noted in your catalog. One fast and easy method of collecting a foot print is to use tin foil. Just place a piece of foil on the carpet and have a visitor step on it. When you have your catalog you can add to it as new people visit. This catalog will help you track who’s who in your zoo. When an unfamiliar pattern is found you can reference the catalog, then take appropriate action. On the other hand, following a print that’s leaving your property is a whole new subject and will take much training.
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About the author: Freddy Osuna is a warrior philosopher who has been involved in tracking nearly his entire life. A member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe of the desert Southwest and a former Marine Scout Sniper, he’s the author of Index Tracking: Essential Guide to Trailing Man and Beast, and the guy who developed the green laser tracking concept now called GLINT (Green Laser Index Night Tracking) and the Battlefield Tactical Acuity Course/BTAC. His knowledge is based on a foundation of real-world deployments and formal Combat Tracking instructor experience with U.S. and allied militaries, federal, state, and municipal law enforcement entities. He’s using a different approach to reaching sensory awareness and visual tracking, harnessing his Native American and Marine Corps culture to fuse field craft and technology and deliver holistic, scientific based lessons steeped in the North American tracker lineage — and believe us, there is a helluva lineage.
Freddy has worked as a Footwear & Tire Impression Collection & Examination Expert for the U.S. Army Weapons Intelligence Course 2015, a lead instructor for the U.S. Army Combat Tracker Course at Ft. Huachuca, AZ 2008-2010, and as the 2nd MARDIV School of Infantry East/Combat Hunter Course, Combat Tracking SME 2013-2014. Formerly an infantry squad leader, his last military billet was as Staff NCOIC, 1st Marine MTU (where he was awarded a Gold Star for his Navy Achievement Medal in lieu of second device for innovative training techniques. His unique course offerings include “Weaponize the Senses”, Green Laser Index Night Tracking (GLINT), Index Tracking, Grayside Hunter, and the Battlefield Tactical Acuity Course (BTAC).
Sometimes Freddy smiles.