The employment of Visual Tracking skills is nothing new and has been a critical skill in human survival and evolution. Primitive man developed the skill of tracking by associating a print laid by an animal to that of prey.  As humans evolved, visual tracking played a significant role in everyday survival, whether hunting for food, protecting the tribe, or attempting to locate and attack another competing tribe.

As Europeans began to travel and colonize North America, they found themselves in an environment they were unfamiliar with. Many European settlements died out. The only colonists who survived, allied themselves with, and employed friendly Native American Indians to help them hunt for food and survive their new environment.

As time passed, the colonists became more self-reliant with their ability to read sign, either for the purpose of hunting game or determining whether unfriendly Indian raiding parties were operating around their settlements. When attacked by enemy tribes, the settlers along with their native allies used combat tracking techniques to hunt down and wage combat upon their enemy.

In the 1600’s and 1700’s the frontiersmen and their Native American allies were later recognized by the British for their excellent scouting and combat tracking abilities. The British, whose soldiers were not accustomed to the frontier guerrilla style warfare, formed independent companies of Colonial Rangers. The Rangers were exceptional frontiersmen who developed a new way of fighting that blended the Indian and European combat techniques and tactics.

Apache Scout
Apache Scout

Combat tracking was used as a method of trailing and gathering information on the enemy until finally locating and attacking them. Units such as Churches Rangers tracked enemy Indian bands through forests and swamps to conduct attacks on their camps. Major Robert Rogers developed military tactics that were so bold and effective that his Rangers became the chief scouting unit for the British Army and fought during the French and Indian War. Major Rogers even mentioned tracking in his original “Rules of Ranging:”

If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other to prevent the enemy from tracking you…”


If the enemy pursues your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form an ambush to receive them….”