The Tracker School is in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
I remember writing a report about the Pine Barrens when I was in elementary school. The plant life was astonishing! There are some that blow up, others that eat insects and the soil is sand. It is an extraordinary place.
Well that’s where I go to school to learn about healing and living on the land. I know several edible plants, what wood is best for bow drill and how to make a primitive weapons. The land is unique.
Here are some facts about the Pine Barrens.
The Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is an enormous and all-encompassing tract of open space that covers 1.1 million acres, or 22 percent of New Jersey’s land area.
“The Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is a heavily forested area of coastal plain stretching across southern New Jersey. The name “pine barrens” refers to the area’s sandy, acidic, nutrient-poor soil, to which the crops originally imported by European settlers didn’t take well. These uncommon conditions enable the Pine Barrens to support a unique and diverse spectrum of plant life, including orchids and carnivorous plants. The area is also notable for its populations of rare pygmy Pitch Pines and other plant species that depend on the frequent fires of the Pine Barrens to reproduce. The sand that composes much of the area’s soil is referred to by the locals as sugar sand.”
I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the
outdoors as spring is beginning to come in
full swing. I just spent a week in Connecticut
with some friends after teaching a Standard
class and a Dirt Time workshop in the Pines.
Now, I’m getting ready to head back down to
the Pines to teach an Advanced Tracking and
Awareness class and a Beyond the Lateral Ridge
workshop. It’s a busy month!
If you’re like me, then you know one of the best
ways to keep yourself connected to the Earth and
calm your internal baseline is to go to your Sit
Area whenever possible. Although its often overlooked,
the Sit Area is one of the best and most powerful
ways of excelling at tracking.
Even at the Standard class, Tom will tell you again
and again that both he and Grandfather consider
the Sit Area to be the most important element in
studying tracking. Consider that Grandfather expected
Tom and Rick to go to their Sit Areas every day,
twice a day for an hour before sunrise to an hour
after sunrise and from an hour before sunset to an
hour after sunset. That equates to 4 hours of Sit
Area time every day.
Now, most of us don’t have that kind of time, but
even if we did, I would wager to say that few of
us even have access to what we would consider the
“perfect” Sit Area. So, this begs the question, “If I
live in an urban/suburban area, how do I get a Sit Area?”
In order to give folks an idea of some of the more
important aspects of the Sit Area, such as how to
choose a Sit Area and what you can do at a Sit Area,
I’ve put together this short, 11 minute video, where
I take you to some of the Sit Areas I use regularly.
Sit Area Video!
This video will give you insights into how to find a
Sit Area and how to integrate it into your own personal
Tracking practice. I hope you enjoy it and will talk
to you again soon!
Earth Voices, LLC
5114 Mandalay Springs Drive Apt 103
Las Vegas, NV 89120
|Sit Spot Audio a meditation you can do when you find the perfect place to sit.|
- Identify different species of animals in your
- area at a glance!
- Interpret illness, injury, and mood by
- measuring tracks!
- Unlock the secrets of Apache pressure
- releases in order to determine animal
- behaviors by studying their tracks!
I missed posting this Bill Marple post. Hope you like it even though Thanksgiving is over.
Bill Maple on Thanksgiving and the love of tracking.
Hope you’re doing well, and getting
ready for Thanksgiving and the holidays.
I know Danielle and I will enjoy Thanksgiving
here with the usual family get together
and feasting! However, aside from the
normal social aspects of this holiday,
we’re also planning on getting out into
the wilderness for a few hours to track,
wander, and otherwise give thanks for
the beauty of the natural world around us.
I hope you have time to do the same!
As you can see from the above title, I
have some interesting things to share
with you today. But first, a few administrative
-Many folks have asked when my next
Dirt Time and Beyond the Lateral Ridge
classes are running. We’ve had a bit of
hard time back at Tracker School with
our website lately, and the classes are
not currently listed. They should be up
soon and you can get in touch with Sara
if you’re interested in taking one.
The dates are for the 3-5 of December and
19-21 February respectively for Dirt
Time and Beyond the Lateral Ridge. Both
classes will take place in Santa Cruz, CA.
If you’re interested in either of these two
classes, I urge you to sign up soon, as they
usually fill up quickly! Hope to see you there!
-I’m VERY excited to say that not only
will I shortly have my very own website
up and online, but also, I will soon be
announcing the date for my very first
ONLINE TRACKING CLASS.
I’m currently beta testing them, and should be
rolling them out in the next week! They
will be a viable alternative for folks who
either can’t make it to a class, or for those
who want a reference material for classes
they’ve taken in the past. The best news is
that I’ll be offering them at a discount for
the people who are part of the Tracking
Update! Stay tuned for more info!
So, on to the subject of the email, “GRUDGE
MATCH: GROUND SQUIRREL VS
WOODRAT.” I want you to begin by taking
a look at the below photos. If you can’t
see them, please make sure you click on
the “display images” provided by your email
Danielle and I came across these tracks
on a walk up in the mountains surrounding
Las Vegas, and had quite a time going
back and forth over whether or not they
were made by a ground squirrel or a woodrat,
both of which are common in the area
we live in.
I would say we “talked” about
it for close to an hour, and each of us
changed our mind two or three times before
we finally came to conclusion about the
tracks origins. To be honest, it was Danielle
who eventually “solved the case” by
tracking the animal back to its den. Ahhhhh,
how tracking can add a certain “spice”
to your relationship at times……
Begin by asking yourself some of the following questions:
-What is the direction of travel?
-Which tracks are the front feet, and which are the rears?
-What gait pattern is being demonstrated here?
-How many toes are in the front, and how many are in the rear?
-What shape are the digits? Short and stubby? Long and slender? Somewhere in between?
-Is there an orientation to the fronts and rears? Are they “pitched” in one direction or the other?
-What’s happening with the metacarpal pads(the leading edge of the heel pad)? Are they segmented? Fully separated? Do they have a particular shape?
If you’re running into difficulty here,
just remember there ought to be a
trusty field guide in your tracking
library somewhere that can give you
a clue into what you’re looking for.
If you don’t have a field guide(shame
on you!!!), you can always check out
what “Momma Google” has to say by
doing a few searches.
Have a great time with the track ID.
I’ll be sending out the answer in my
next email. Until then, happy tracking,
and keep your eye out for my ONLINE
928 Main Street
Bill Marple has an online tracking class!
Well, the day is finally here, and I’m happy
to announce that my very first ONLINE CLASS
is now a reality! After weeks of beta-testing and
a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, the class will air
live from 4:00pm-5:00pm PST on WEDS, 1 DEC 2010-next week!
This first class will focus on Track Measurements.
So often in tracking, we forget about the basics,
and Track Measurements is no exception. Most
people just never take the time to really
get into using the measurement system, and
as a result, they lose a very powerful
technique in terms of increasing their
awareness and their ability in tracking.
In this class, I will be going over the
following major topics as well as
several others :
-How to properly take Track Measurements
-Expanded definitions of technical measurement terms
-How to use Track Measurements to get detailed information about sets of tracks
-How Track Measurements relate to Pressure Releases
If you are unfamiliar with Track
Measurements, this class will more
than acquaint you with the details. If
you’ve had experience with them, it will
be a valuable reference material. The
class itself will be the first installment of
a series entitled “Tracking Basics” where
I will be touching on many of the tracking
topics covered in the Standard class, and
showing how to use them in your journey
I’m also pleased to announce that, as promised,
I will do everything in my power to “hook up”
those dedicated folks(like you!) who have
been part of the Tracking Update. So, I’m
offering this class to you for only $20 which
is a $10 discount then will be made available
for regular download.
During the class, you will be able to attend the
live class, ask questions during the presentation, and view
it at any time in the future for as long as you like!
The best part about this is that even if you
are not able to be present for the live airing,
but have STILL REGISTERED, you’ll be
able to view it in the future without paying
for it again!
In this way, I’ll be creating a “digital library”
of classes, materials, and study guides which
you’ll be able to reference whenever you have
questions. There are so many possibilities
for where this could go!
And I’ll see you in the digital classroom!
PS-After you register, make sure you check
your spam folder for your confirmation email
as they sometimes get misrouted by web browers!(especially yahoo!)
Bill Marple, guest blogger, stops by again to teach us about tracking.
Our guest blogger is Bill Marple an instructor at the Tracker School in New Jersey. He gives classes on tracking animals and humans in the wildereness and on the streets. I’m so glad he is allowing me to add his post to our site and share his expertise with you. Now without further ado Bill Marple (Applause!)
Well, I am excited, as we are all one step closer to making the tracking update interactive! As you’ll see below, I now am able to post photos in my emails to you. Yes, after much head-scratching, phone-calling, and, well, out and out cursing, I finally figured it out(actually it was much easier than I made it-of course!). Soon, we’ll be able to post video as well!
So, the subject line reads “WOODY WOODPECKER CAUGHT ON FILM,” but as you’ll soon notice, that’s not totally true. However, I lied to you on purpose, in order to highlight the power of tracking in observation in awareness. Check out the two photos below:
I took these photos in northern Vermont. As you can see, Woody is nowhere to be found. Yet, I know he was here. How could I be sure about this? Well, there’s a couple of things about animals, birds, and beasts in general that are useful to consider when interpreting tracks and sign. To begin with, here’s one of the Golden Rules of Sign tracking:
*According to species, animals tend to leave the same type of sign no matter where you find them*
This means that most animals will leave almost exactly the same type of sign, no matter what geographical area you find them in. And, that sign is specific to that type of species. For example, I could find a grey squirrel nest in New Hampshire, and one in Florida, and if I compared the two, they would be of almost exactly the same type of construction with the exception of the material used.
This is so powerful in sign tracking! As you begin to notice different types of sign, and relate them to a species, you’ll begin to see them wherever you go. Sign tracking is incredibly important when determining what animals are in an area, and once you get comfortable with it, it truly is possible to determine the animal activity “at a glance!”
For instance, when I took the photo of the above tree, and forest floor surrounding it, there was no doubt in my mind that it was a Pileated Woodpecker that caused the hole and wood chips. How do I know this? Let’s consider a few things:
1. The holes themselves are huge and the wood chips are huge. -Only a large bird could have done this. It wasn’t the result of several small birds or insects over the course of days. The age of the hole showed it was done in one “chipping.” So, it had to have been one bird. As well, the sides of the hole didn’t have all sorts of scratches, chips, tears, etc, as if several animals had clawed it out. It was neatly chipped out, lending it to look like the work of one bird with a large bill. Raptors and Owls are big enough to do this, but their bills and facial construction don’t support it.
2. The holes indicate a feeding behavior, not a nesting behavior. -As you can see, their was no nest built here, nor is it a good place for a nest. This hole was made for the purpose of getting food(insects) out of the wood. Generally speaking, only one type of bird pecks holes in trees for food(woodpeckers), and only one type of pecking bird is big enough to have caused it: A Pileated Woodpecker.
3. The holes are “square shaped.” -It’s difficult to see in the photo, but the holes themselves are “squarish” or “rectangularish.” This is a dead giveaway for a Pileated Woodpecker. Pileateds need large trees to feed on, and when they peck them, they typically go deep into the wood, and leave a distinctly “square” or “rectangular” shaped hole behind. No other bird in North America leaves a hole that big, and of that shape. You can count on them leaving it behind wherever they’ve been feeding. With all this in mind, I can say conclusively “A Pileated Woodpecker did this!”
Pileated Woodpecker’s are one of my favorite birds. Maybe it’s because I loved watching Woody Woodpecker growing up as a kid, but more than likely, the Pileated is one of the first birds I observed and began to associate the sign they leave with the bird itself. If you apply this to other animals, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how predictable animals turns out to be. You’ll soon attributing burrows, nests, dens, browse, etc with specific animals!
Have fun getting out there sign tracking, and I’ll catch up with you on the next update!