- 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!
My friend Fred creates his first drum. In his own words.
Earlier this year I purchased a deer rawhide from Two Wolves (Kfir Mendal) to make a drum. I remember in Philosophy 2 (Tracker School) being taught the drums could be between 12 and 18 in. in diameter. I chose to make mine 14″. They could be 1.5 to 2.5 in. deep. I chose 2.25″. and the thickness of the frame material could be 5/8 to 7/8 in. I chose 5/8″.
This past winter, the snows here in Maryland were more than in Buffalo N.Y. !! Well there is a tree at the boatyard where I work, that I used to often pray under before work ( the place has changed hands and it is harder to get privacy and time to do this now ). It is a wonderful Juniper (red cedar). The winter snows brought down a large branch.
I collected the branch, cut and dried the parts for the frame of the drum. That way the tree and I can still spend time together.
A Mock Up
I made a “mock-up” from pine and vinyl to get a pattern for the drum head with the holes in the correct places, and also to practice lacing ( with jute ). The hide that I had was small and instead of being able to cut the drumhead from between the shoulders like you are supposed to, I was forced to cut from the center of the back. This meant I had to cut the more than 40 ft. of lacing from around the perimeter of the drumhead cut. This concerned me because the hide gets thinner in those outer areas and weaker.
So, with all the preparation in place, the “avoidance mechanism” kicked in, and I decided I’d wait to the following weekend to attempt the assembly. I’ve never worked with rawhide before except for a few scrapes on a hide at class. WELL, I IMMEDIATELY SENCED A VOICE, “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” O.K. I thought, so into a large can with water went the roughed out drumhead and the lacing. I’m committed now! So, I stopped, and in turn faced each of the four directions and asked for help.
The drum was assembled. Hey it’s tough pulling 40 some ft of wet rawhide thru a hole in a drumhead ! I brought it in the kitchen to dry overnight.
In the morning, I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning. Out to the kitchen I went. Will it be twisted? warped? will the lacing have pulled thru the holes?? No, the drum was fine. It may have been my hands that assembled the drum, but I HAD ALOT OF HELP !!!!! So, on Sat the 14 of Aug. a drum was born.
Karl Direske is the founder of Wilderness Fusion a school that teaches the art of healing.
Here is a little about him.
Karl Direske is a certified Energy Healer and graduated from and taught at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing for nearly 10 years and at Tracker School for more than 15 years. He now teaches healing and self-awareness at his own school Wilderness Fusion. By blending his high-sensory perception skills with his ability to influence energy he assists individuals to hasten their personal process and healing.
Passionate about his work with students Karl runs Wilderness Fusion to change consciousness and bring people back to a healthy relationship with the Earth. He and his team integrate ancient skills into modern society, promoting a healing lifestyle that not only teaches the how-to but also the why-to. Wilderness Fusion is a community, laboratory, and a repository of Niasziih Healing knowledge.
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 of urban America. 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 suppose I should
begin by apologizing for not
sending a whole lot out
on the Tracking Update recently.
We’ve just finished about 3
weeks of classes in the primitive
camp which left me with
little time to get myself to
a computer. But, what a three
weeks of classes they were!
I must say, I’ve been working
at Tracker for awhile now,
and every year, all of us on
the staff look forward to the
Scout class. It’s a great
time of booby traps, “awareness
devices,” stalking, camoflage,
and a whole lot more! Just the
cameraderie that develops during
a class as the students make
their way through the curriculum
is a blast!
This year, however, taught me to
look deeper into the more
fundamental truths of Scout
philosophy, and how it relates
to the overall teaching presented
at the Tracker School, particularly
with regard to tracking and
If you’ve been to any of my
workshops, you often hear me read
passages from Science and Art of
Tracking. One of my favorites is
a beautiful quotation about the Way
of the Scout and how it relates
to tracking(there are several,
actually). But, just to pull
out a few tidbits of it, Tom writes,
“…it was the Scout’s awareness
that kept their people safe…
If the tracks were the Scout’s
cathedral, then the pressure releases
were the voice of the Creator.”
I wish I could pull out the full
quote for you, however, it’s quite
lengthy. But wow, what a quote,
even for just a few lines,
eh?!?!? These two sentences, when
looked at “from the belly of the
coyote” contain so much knowledge
First of all, consider to yourself:
Who was Grandfather really?
What was Grandfather really? A shaman?
A healer? An herbalist? a master
survivalist? Yes to all of the above,
but as Tom will tell you, Grandfather
was a Scout first. He usually goes
further with it, explaining how Grandfather’s
Scout training underscored everything
he learned and passed on to Tom.
As you know, for Grandfather, there was
no difference between tracking and
awareness, so, anytime you hear Tom
mention the word “awareness,”
you can think to yourself, “tracking.”
When considered in this way, you begin
to see how tracking, or the ability
to expand your perception, is central
to what Tom teaches. In my opinion, when
Tom writes “it was the Scout’s awareness
that kept their people safe,” he is
referring to tracking as the underpinning
of all the other teachings!!!!
Hey, I’m not trying to tell you just
because you know something about
tracking, you know something about
healing, or herbalism, or whatever else.
What I’m saying is that if you know
how to track, you’ve automatically
trained your mind to think in the
proper way so those other pursuits
Remember, in many ways, tracking is
the process by which we search for
and study the truth about things.
So, if you’re a tracker, you’re training
your mind in the right way to be
able to study and perceive things many
other people might not ever distinguish!!
Pretty good argument for
Well, that’s not even all of it.
Tom goes on to write that the
pressure releases are the voice of the
Creator in the track. Well,
I’m not going to trample on your
“religious or philosophical toes”
in an email by trying to tell you what
you should consider to be the “voice of
the Creator.” I just know from what
Tom has written here, and from some of
my own personal experiences, pressure
release studies have a monumental amount
of knowledge to teach us.
If you have trouble swallowing pressure
releases as the “voice of the Creator”
just think of them as a language we have
to get to know and speak if we ever hope
to truly understand what the Earth
is saying to us. As trackers, we are
constantly seeking to be in
dialogue with Earth Mother, but we can’t
do that if we don’t speak her language.
Trust me, a study of pressure releases, any
study of pressure releases, will be worth
When I really consider it, it’s amazing
to me what the Scout societies
accomplished, and, in my estimation,
pressure release is one of the crown
jewels of that accomplishment. All
during the Scout class, I couldn’t stop
thinking of just how important
pressure release tracking is.
Particularly when I stop to consider
just how much of a difference it’s
made in my own life, I’m amazed. I hope
you take some time to consider this as
well, and think about what tracking
means to you, and how its affected your
Are your own people safer now that you’ve begun to
Talk to you later, and I hope you’ve had a great few weeks!
PS-I’ll catch back up with you in a few days with a complete
breakdown of my upcoming class schedule. So many people have been
asking for it, I thought it would be worth it’s own broadcast so
you can find out the scoop! Classes are filling up quickly, so if
you can’t wait, take a look for them on the Tracker Schedule at
928 Main Street
Contact Bill at
So you found the perfect place to meditate in nature. Now what?
Listen to our internet radio show for a closer look at meditating in nature.
Things to consider when looking for a place to meditate in nature. Part One.[audio:http://www.speakfreelyradio.com/wp-content/uploads/show_577820.mp3]