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The Pace Of Tracks

A Scout must learn to recognize at a glance at what pace the maker of the tracks was going.

A man walking puts the whole flat of his foot on the ground, each foot a little under a yard from the other. In running, the toes are more deeply dug into the ground, and a little dirt is kicked up, and the feet are more than a yard apart. Sometimes men walk backwards in order to deceive anyone who may be tracking, but a good Scout can generally tell this at once by the stride being shorter, the toes more turned in, and the heel marks deeper.

When you find the tracks of horses, try to discover at what speed the animals were travelling. This is indicated by the distances between the imprints of the forefeet and the hind feet. In the sketches above, the long feet are the hind feet.

With animals, if they are moving fast, their toes are more deeply dug into the ground, and they kick up the dirt, and their paces are longer than when going slowly.

You ought to be able to tell the pace at which a horse has been going directly you see the tracks.

At a walk the horse makes two pairs of hoof prints-the near (left) hind foot close in front of near fore foot mark, and the off (right) fore foot similarly just behind the print of the off hind foot. At a trot the track is similar, but the stride is longer.

The hind feet are generally longer and narrower in shape than the fore feet.

It was a trick with highwaymen of old, and with horse stealers, to put their horses' shoes on the wrong way round in order to deceive trackers who might try to follow them up. But a good tracker would not be taken in. Similarly, thieves often walk backwards for the same reason, but a clever tracker will very soon recognize the deception.

Wheel tracks should also be studied till you can tell the difference between the tracks of motor-cars or bicycles, and the direction they were going.

Author

Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation

1908

Learn A Continuation:

to the next page: The Age Of Tracks

Back in The Past:

to the previous page: Men's Tracks


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