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HomeTechniquesTracking Box

The Wisdom of the Tracking Box

Tom Brown Jr.

Last November during a Tracker Association meeting I began to teach the members how to effectively use a tracking box for learning human and animal track patterns. This huge, sand-filled box enables the student to figure out with great ease the various patterns of walking, sitting, falling, and variable gaits found in all tracks.

I find that students are often puzzled over a strange grouping of tracks that they find, unable to figure out what the animal or human did to create such a tapestry of tracks. By recreating those tracks in a large tracking box, the student will readily see why the tracks were made in that manner. The tracking box is also a great way to study the vast assortment of pressure releases, mounding, furrowing, scoring, and the numerous other facets of in-depth track reading.

To build the tracking box you will need three 2 x 12 x 8 and a sheet of ” exterior plywood. The tracking box is 8’ long, 4’ wide, and 12” deep, with the plywood acting as he bottom of the box.

The box should be painted with wood life or some other kind of wood preservative and then set above the ground on 4 x 4 blocks, or if you like a taller view, on saw horses. Many students locate their boxes in the basement, or in the garage but it is also good to locate it outside the house.

The dirt for the inside should be damp beach sand (you'll have to keep it moist with a spray bottle), at least 10 inches deep. The reason for the beach sand is that it holds tracks well and makes it easy to read the pressure releases.

Once your tracking box is in place, then you're ready to play and learn at the same time. Start with a simple walk, then a turn of the head to the left or right, then a fall, a crawl, or any number of things. You will be surprised how easily the pressure releases show up.

If your box is located outside, put some scraps of food in the center in the evening and by the next morning you will have a wide assortment of tracks to decipher. A game I have my Tracker Association play is to have everyone leave the room while someone walks through the box while looking right or left, turning, falling. or whatever. Then the people come back into the room and try to figure out what that person has done.

Once you know the various track patterns you will find it much easier to figure out the tracks in a regular tracking situation be better able to pick out the various pressure releases and other nuances of the tracks.

From The Tracker magazine, February 1982, published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the Tracker Trail website