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True Scouting Stories

Captain Stigand a cavalry officer, writing of his experiences gave the following instances of scouts reading important meanings from small signs.

When he was going round outside his camp one morning, he noticed fresh spoor of a horse which had been walking. He knew that all his horses went at a jog-trot only, so it must have been a stranger's horse. He realized that a mounted enemy scout had been quietly looking at his camp in the night.

Coming to a village in Central Africa from which the inhabitants had fled; Stigand could not tell what tribe it belonged to till he found a crocodile's foot in one of the huts. This showed that the village belonged to the Awisa tribe, as they eat crocodiles, and the neighbouring tribes do not.

A man was seen riding a camel over half a mile away. An African who was watching him said, "It is a man of slave blood."

"How can you tell at this distance?"

"Because he is swinging his leg. A true Arab rides with his legs close to the camel's side."

Finding Lost Property

An officer lost his field-glasses during some manoeuvres on the desert five miles from Cairo, and he sent for Egyptian trackers to look for them.

The horse was brought out and led about, so that the trackers could study its footprints. These they carried in their minds, and went out to where the manoeuvres had been. There, among the hundreds of hoof marks of the cavalry and artillery, the trackers soon found those of the officer's horse, and followed them up where-ever he had ridden, till they found the field-glasses lying where they had dropped out of their case on the desert.

The "Lost" Camel

Egyptian trackers are particularly good at spooring camels. To anyone not accustomed to them, the footmarks of one camel look very like those of any other camel. But to a trained eye they are all as different as people's faces, and experienced trackers remember them very much as you would remember the faces of people you had seen.

Some years ago a camel was stolen near Cairo. The police tracker was sent for and shown its spoor. He followed it for a long way until it got into some streets, where it was entirely lost among other footmarks.

A year later the same police tracker suddenly came on the fresh track of this camel-he had remembered its appearance all that time.

It had evidently been driven with another camel whose track he also recognized. He knew they were made by a camel which belonged to a well-known camel thief. So, without trying to follow the tracks through the city, the tracker went with a policeman straight to the man's stable, and there found the long-missing camel.

South American Trackers

The "Gauchos", or cowboys, of South America are fine scouts. The cattle lands are now for the most part enclosed, but formerly the gauchos had to track stolen and lost beasts for miles and were therefore good trackers. One of these men was once sent to track a stolen horse, but failed to find it. Ten months later, in a different part of the country, he suddenly noticed the fresh spoor of this horse on the ground. He at once followed it up and recovered the horse.


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

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