by Kevin Bruce

Mantracking is a retraining of the eyes to look for clues invisible to the untrained eye, to aid in finding the lost subject. For basic search and rescue, every searcher should at least know what a track is, and how not to destroy it.

“In searching, more people is seldom better. Sheer numbers do not guarantee success. Neither do millions of dollars or sophisticated equipment. Even the smallest group of well-trained searchers, under the direction of a skilful search commander, is far superior to a large
unwieldy group tearing about the country. In fact, the large, untrained, disorganized groups, all too characteristic of searches done in this country, cost far more lives than they save.”

Ab Taylor, one of the founders of modern tracking, in Funadmentals of mantracking, p. 5.


Basic Tracking Terms
Track Impression left from the passage of a creature that can be positively identified.

Tracking Following someone or something by stringing together a continuous chain of their sign.

Sign Any evidence of change from the natural state that is inflicted on an environment by a creature’s passage.

Sign cutting Looking for sign in order to establish a starting point.

Point man One member of the three person tracking team described graphically as the top point of the triangle formation. This person is responsible for print identification, determining the prime sign area, and tracking stick location of the “next” print focus in the step-by-step process.

Flank men The two members, one to the right and one to the left, just behind a point person that make up a three person tracking team.

Conclusively Human sign that on its own can be positively be said to have caused by a person and not an animal.

Corroborant a sign that is disturbance but not decisively human and could have been caused by an animal.

Footprints to other web sites:
all links open into a new window

Emergency Response Institute Canada

Book tracks:
Taylor, Albert (Ab) and Donald C. Cooper. Fundamentals of mantracking: the step-by-step method. 2nd ed. Olympia, Wash.: Emergency Response Inst., 1990.

Kearney, Jack. Tracking: a blueprint for learning how. 1st ed. El Cajon, Calif.: Pathways Pr., 1978.