Footprint Tracking Questions

Discussion in 'General Information & Discussion' started by Trackergd, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    I have received quite a few questions about footprint tracking in the Lauren Jackson thread. I would rather keep that thread all about Lauren.

    I have been Tracking for around 48 years. Native American trained and trained by Tom Brown. I am blessed to have learned from a great number of people over my life, including a number of folks in the military back in the early 70's. I track people, animals and on occasion, vehicles (off road).

    Kimster had a laugh over one of the newspaper articles about me where the reporter compared me to "a good dog", meaning a bloodhound. I doubt I will ever live that one down. :facepalm:

    So...ask away!

    "The tragedy in life is not what man suffers, but what he misses"
     


  2. UKgirl

    UKgirl For you little sky.

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    I for one would like to know what you can tell from a particular set of footprints. Thanks
     
  3. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    Looking at a set of the missing persons shoes provides the first bits of information. No two people create wear patterns in their shoes "exactly" the same way. Some people drag their heels, some walk on the sides, some walk mostly on the front half. If someone is "pigeon toed" it will create a specific wear pattern.

    So...take into account, unique wear pattern, stride (distance from the heel of the leading foot to the toe of the lagging foot), pitch (the angle in or out for each foot from a center line) and straddle (the distance between the left and right foot). Now depending on what training a tracker has, they can read between 80+ and 100+ pressure releases and indicators in each print. Some are obvious and some are what are called "sub surface" and take a lot of experience and "dirt time" to master. For example, a "pock" is an impression in the print that may be a unique design item in the tread pattern, a thumb tack or stone stuck in the shoe. A "reverse pock" is a hole that leaves material sticking up in a print. Keep in mind that a print is a negative of the shoe or bare foot that left it. Some pressure releases tell you that the person is going to make a turn to the left or right, some tell you speed (along with a change in stride). When a person on a hike suddenly figures out they are lost, they go into a moment of panic and you get what we call a "Fred Astaire" where there are a whole bunch of prints in a small circle as they spin around looking for some point of reference...then you usually get an "explode off" which is the front half of a print with the material all thrown out the back as the take off running from a stop in blind panic...until they tire out, sit down and take stock of the situation.

    So in brief:
    Speed
    Mental state
    Unique wear patterns that assure you that you are on the "right track"
    Carrying something
    Time since track was made
    Physical injuries
    And a whole lot more depending on your skill level.

    Back in the early 80's we developed the four man tracking team.
    Think of a diamond. At the top point is the lead tracker, on either side are two more trackers or sign cutters and the bottom point is the radio/map (now gps/EMS person.

    When the lead tracker loses the print, the two wing trackers start looking until they find the next print. If not, the lead tracker moves ahead of the group until he picks up the next print and then the rest of the team moves up with him/her. The nagivation/ems person is there to keep track of location of evidence, keep in touch with command and to render first aid to the trackers and first responder care to the subject.

    I and many other trackers use a "tracking stick". Mine is an old ski pole with the basket removed. I put O rings around the shaft of the pole. From the tip to the first O ring is the stride. First to second is straddle. When I lose the track, I put the first O ring on the toe of the last track, and some where in a 360 degree circle is the next print, unless the changed speed and the stride got longer and you have to do a bit of looking.

    Hope this gives so some answers!

    Or else you are wondering why you asked.... :scared:
     
  4. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    Right handed people tend to have a longer left stride. Left handed people tend to have a longer right stride.

    Asking the right questions and looking at a pair of the subjects shoes gets you the information you need to work with.

    The next important thing is knowing the true "PLS" Place Last Seen. Not the one everyone "thinks" it is, but the true PLS...and you find that from the prints.
     
  5. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    I had a question in the Lauren thread about weight and carrying something.

    Make a print impression near the subjects print. You know how much you weigh. Take a thin, narrow good quality scale (ruler) and measure the depth of your print, then measure the dept of the subjects print. Figure out the difference as a percentage, and then as an approximate weight. You weigh 100 lbs (I wish) and the subject prints are 50% less than yours, so they weigh around 50 lbs. You can use a thin stick, or in a pinch a blade of grass using your thumb nail as the depth marker from yours to theirs.

    Now if you find a persons left print or right print is deeper on the outside, it could indicate that they are carrying something on that side. The depth between the normal print on the other side, the the extra depth indicates the approximate weight of the object. If that extra depth goes away at some point, look for something set down or tossed away. Same if both prints are deeper on the heel (backpack) or on the toes (carrying in front). Now these indicators can be for other things, so asking questions about physical injuries and unique characteristics of the subject is so critical.
     
  6. Reality Orlando

    Reality Orlando Verified Aquaculturalist

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    Wow, fascinating! What an important role you play in finding the missing!
     
  7. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Thank you Trackergd for the info, very fascinating!

    Would it be easy to tell if someone had altered their shoes? Think Unabomber. I'm thinking you could tell if the prints were good enough by the pressure points, but I could be totally wrong.

    Other topic question: Would it be possible to discuss herbs in another place on here, if you have and are willing to share the knowledge and mods are okay with it?
     
  8. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    If you can get a verified pair of the subjects shoes, it is quite easy to see the difference. If you are working cold, you may detect variations as the shoes probably will not fit and you will get a "stutter" on the front or back of prints due to hesitation in the stride and possible development of blisters. Plus if they are very ill fitting, they will stop and take them off once in a while to rest. Now I have seen people try to walk backwards in their own prints and then go off trail, but if I tell you how to detect that, all my brother and sister Trackers will probably disown me.. ;) Let's just say that Cats and foxes are the only animals that can usually "direct register".

    I can tell you all you need to know in 6 words. Petersons Field Guide to Edible Plants. Now you know what I know...minus a few+ things. The warnings and color photographs keep you out of trouble. I know a very few things I can eat to stay alive. I stick with that short list. And I know that Jewel Weed cures my poison ivy. I now how to filter water without a water filter and how to start a fire without matches. I'm good to go! :)
     
  9. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Thanks for the info, both foot and weed. (Just tried Jewelweed patch test, not for me, even though I have a lot of Indian blood I developed severe skin allergies, sigh. Was going to make salve and soap, and do make some tinctures that work with my allergic new body, ACK! Also, just rub some right on there or teas.)

    :)

    Totally get the "register"! And Dylan Thomas wrote a Christmas play about that used to be available on L.P., but I guess youtube is just as good now. ;) Snow and all. And my dog could trace something without sight, but, she is now gone. Tell us more about tracking, footprints or not. Can't think of all the questions, so if something comes to mind, just add on. I'll try to thank when the computer works, or think up more questions.
     
  10. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    Try Doctor Bronners Peppermint Oil Soap or good quality Oatmeal Soap. I have somewhat the same problem and genetics...you're not Lenni Lenapi are you? :eek:
     
  11. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Oh, for everyone else, we may be babbling here.

    If you know the behaviour of the animals in your area, if you watch them, could even be your friendly squirrel, pay attention when they make a new call and are insistent, or a new track. They are following a new smell, which can be a new human event or animal. Calls may be first, given the animal, for new human event. Calls you may not have heard before. (And calls are just a new sound they make that you have not heard if it was b/c of the bluejay or cat, etc... Also watch their tracks if you have the ability or at least any new pattern of movement.)

    Hope that distraction makes sense.
     
  12. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    I'm back. I have no idea (via the very poor Encyclopedia of wiki) what a Lenni Lenapi is. Guess I just don't know. I really would like to know more, about any of it.
     
  13. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    Tracking related sort of... The blue Jay is the forest tattle tail. Hunters wonder why the deer stay away...because Blue Jay knows where they are and puts out a warning call. So does Crow and Squirrel. Animal warnings are like dropping a pebble in a pond and watching the ripples move outwards as the warning is carried on by successive animals. Birds see in color like we do, so they see blaze orange. Listening to the animals sometimes tells you where the missing person is. OK..now you have pried out another secret... :facepalm:
     
  14. Trackergd

    Trackergd SAR Search Manager and Footprint Tracker

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    Eastern Woodlands Tribe. The Grandfather People, otherwise known as the Delaware. Mostly PA and NJ.
     

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