Is Tracking Necessary?

Tracking, a highly once sought after skill continues to disappear with the modern survival movement.  We have taken self-reliance and survival and made it trendy, marketing it with tons of gear and supposed know how.  We have become a generation dependent on stuff, and have left many of the old world ways behind.  A great divide is taking place in every aspect of civilization.  We see it in religion, politics, and even now in the survival community.  Primitive verses modern techniques continue to be the divide on hot topics such as fire craft, trapping, herbalism, and even skills like tracking.  We have convinced ourselves that we can have one without the other, and we are setting ourselves up for failure.

We need to harness a balance of skills if we ever expect to be well-rounded woodsmen (woodswomen for all the ladies out there).  We need to stop focusing so much on labels like survival, wilderness living, primitive skills, prepper, naturalist, and what ever title you tend to give yourself.  It is time we encompass ourselves with the knowledge that it is going to take to keep our asses alive, no matter what the circumstances.  Not living in fear of the unknown, but embracing the adventure of knowing you have what it takes to survive anything.

We all tend to specialize in one area or another, but for many of us we consider ourselves a jack of all trades. However, in my observation over the last few years the one skill I see lacking in most people’s toolbox is the ability to track.  Having even the slightest tracking skills will significantly increase your odds of survival, whether it be tracking down an animal to put food on your table, or having the ability to track enemies in hostile environments to avoid detection or capture.

The beautiful thing about tracking is it has a way of connecting us to the land.  We begin to see the flow of the earth, and we allow an animal like instinct to kick-in in our minds as we put ourselves in our target’s shoes.  We learn to heighten our observation skills and we begin to fine tune our nature awareness. When tracking, your senses begin to become one with nature.  The smell in the air and even the taste on your breathe will be more aware.   I’m not talking about any type of mystical tracking principles of taking on the energy of the wolf or anything like that.  I am simply trying to point out the necessity and wonder of tracking.  Don’t cheat yourself from learning this amazing skill.

For those interested in learning more about tracking I want to share with you the 6 Rules of Tracking and the 8 Disciplines of Tracking.  These fundamental principles will begin to help you develop your skills.  At the bottom of this article I will also add a tracking exercise video for you to begin to get out and train in tracking.

6 Disciplines of Tracking

  1. Who Made the Track? – Track Identification (Track Features: Track measurements, trail width, track patterns, pace, scat, hair, sign, behavior)
  2. What Happened Here? – Track Interpretation (Interpretation: Pressure releases, pattern, sign, drags, rubs, scrapes)
  3. Where was the target going? – Track Trailing (Trailing: Behaviors, motivation, speed, direction of travel, changes of direction)
  4. When was the track made? – Track Aging (Aging: Wind changes, direct sunlight, temperature, dew, rain – keep a weather journal)
  5. Why is the target here? – Track Ecology (terrain, resources, etc.) (Ecological: Seasons, time of day, water, food source, predatory pressures, population pressure, mating, survival needs – shelter, fire (for human), water, food)
  6. How was the target feeling? – Track Psychology (Psychology: Educated conjecture, experience with other disciplines, connectivity to nature, nature awareness)

8 Rules of Tracking:

Trail the right target


Record all trail evidence and sign
Actively stay behind the trails leading edge
Careful not to disturb trail/substrate
Keep confirmation of the trail with the primary sign (10 stick method *See video below)
Intentionally always be aware of your surrounding and know where you are
Never lose the trail or visual contact of your team
Get into the mind of your target and tune yourself to your surroundings

Learn tracking skills in our SERE Course or Contact Us about taking a Tracking Course.  If you have any questions or comments be sure to post them on our Facebook Group Sigma 3 Survival University.


Thanks for checking out my post.  Be sure to share and subscribe to our blog.

Justin “Sage Juan” Williams
Director of Operations / Lead Instructor
Sigma 3 Survival School HQ

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Greetings, Sigma 3 Family!

As many of you know, Sigma 3 Survival School has been experiencing exponential growth as of late. With this growth comes new and exciting opportunities, new classes, and new skill sets to be mastered. These changes are exciting and refreshing for us and we know that you will be pleased with the direction Sigma 3 is going as well.

We have been given many new opportunities for specialty classes that have previously been unavailable along with access to new instructors and sources of information, and SIGMA will be adding new, different, and exciting courses soon.

Like all growth, though, there are some growing pains as we move into new frontiers and find that some of the things that served us well in the past are not as vital to our continued growth and ability to serve our students and customers.


Curriculum Changes

We have some monster changes coming to our training programs and we will be dropping some programs and adding some new ones. We can only run programs that are popular and as the years have come and gone, we have learned what classes our students want the most. So in accordance with what our customers want, we are adapting to the changing business environment by adapting our programs to meet our customer’s needs.

We will be dropping the Tactical Scout Cert program and the SOLO wilderness medic cert program and replacing it with a list of specialty classes. Basically we will be recruiting other top training companies to come showcase their best courses for our SIGMA 3 students. We will be keeping the DSD tactical tracking program and both SERE courses, but all other programs within the tactical scout will be eliminated and replaced. We will replace the courses with specialty classes that are determined by our customers via polling. Some of the potential trainers we will try to recruit for courses include: Travis Haley, Kyle Lamb, Badlands Tactical, Mark Elbroch, Joel Hardin, and many more! Almost anyone you want to train under, SIGMA 3 can get! You will see changes in the website to reflect these changes soon. If you have any questions then please contact us for more details.


Maine Location Closing and Moving Farther South

We have found after the initial launch of our location in Maine, that it is too remote and to distant a drive for most people in the Northeast to attend our courses. We have tons of customers in the New York area and it is our goal to move closer to the New York/Pennsylvania line, so that more people from metropolitan areas can join our weekend classes as well as other programs. If you have any land in this area that we can use to host these events please let us know. There is substantial incentive for allowing us to use your land for training. But for now we will not be scheduling anymore classes at the Maine location.

North Carolina Update

We recently launched the North Carolina location that will be run by Eugene Runkis and Sean Walker. The location we originally picked may be in jeopardy due to lease issues with the land owner, so we may be moving the location to farther north on the North Carolina/Virginia border. Still up in the air as to what is going to happen with this training location. And Eugene is in the process of shooting his 3rd season for Hillbilly Blood, so his schedule is still up in the air also. As soon as we get some solid dates I’ll be sure to update everyone. But you can count on us having classes on the schedule for that area very soon. Just waiting on a few things to come through before posting the training schedule for NC!

Children’s Programs

Probably the single biggest question asked, is do we have any kids programs or classes that kids can attend. Our policy has always been to allow children in most courses offered, except for the advanced ones! But to add to that, we are going to start offering family packages that bring father/son and mother/daughter together in these training classes. And we will have special pricing for package deals, so that both parents and children can enjoy the benefit of world class training at a great price. We will also be starting a kid’s summer survival camp in 2014. Send the kids for a week of adventure and they will learn all the need to know about how to survive! More info on this coming soon!

 All in all, we have a ton of changes happening with SIGMA 3 and we appreciate your commentary and continued support. If you have an interest in some type of training, then please let us know what you would like to see on the schedule and we will try and accommodate your interests.


Robert Allen


SIGMA 3 Survival School

Feature Instructor- Tactical Tracking Operations

Owner of The Scott Donelan Tracking School

Details on the New Scott Donelan Tracking Certification Program w/ SIGMA 3


David Scott Donelan, commonly referred to as DSD, is regarded as one of the world’s most effective and capable tracking instructors available today and you would be hard pressed to find a more experienced instructor anywhere in the world. First exposed to tracking as a Boy Scout, his growing interest in tracking ignited a passion that became a lifelong pursuit that lead him to some to serve with some of the most elite counter insurgency specialists to have ever existed in modern warfare!


Career Highlights:

-Rhodesian SAS Special Forces (Original Member of Resuscitated C Squadron)

-Served with the Selous Scouts (tougher selection school than SAS, research them)

-SAS Selection Training Officer

-SAS Tracking and Bush Survival School Training Officer

-Over 45 years of tracking, survival, tactical, and teaching experience

-Author of the most used Tactical Tracking Handbook in the world. To purchase:  Tactical Tracking Operations- The Essential Guide for Military and Police Trackers

-During the Bush Wars, David has a combined 27 years active duty service which included tours with the Rhodesian Special Air Service, Rhodesia Regiment, Tracker Combat Unit, British South African Police Reserve, Rhodesian Light Infantry, Selous Scouts, South African Special Forces and South West Africa Territorial Force.

-Subject Matter Expert on Combat Tracking for the US Marine Corps Combat Hunter Project

-Driving force and creator of the US Army Combat Tracking School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona


David was a career soldier with almost three decades of active duty experience in the war zones of Rhodesia, South Africa, Mozambique and South-West Africa/Namibia. Enlisting in the Army of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1961, Scott-Donelan was one of the original members of the resuscitated ‘C’ Squadron (Rhodesia) Special Air Service (SAS), where he was introduced to the concepts of irregular warfare and tactical tracking by Allan Savory, a game ranger known for his innovative and successful concepts in hunting down heavily armed elephant and rhino poachers.

In 1968, Scott-Donelan was posted to the new Tracker Combat Unit (TCU), commanded by Allan Savory, with the mission of tracking down and annihilating Communist trained and equipped nationalist insurgents infiltrating the Rhodesian border from Zambia and Mozambique.  He went on to command the TCU and was responsible for the selection and training of expert trackers for the unit which was beginning to make a name for itself on operations.

In 1974, the TCU was absorbed by an innovative, new, counter-insurgency unit known as the Selous Scouts and Scott-Donelan was posted to the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI).  The RLI was heavily involved in helicopter and airborne operations against armed and dangerous terrorist gangs infiltrating Rhodesia in ever increasing numbers.  After several years of non-stop action, he served as an intelligence officer at a Brigade Headquarters (HQ) and Combined Operations HQ, Rhodesia’s equivalent to the Pentagon.  Frustrated with staff duties, he put in for a transfer to the Selous Scouts and was appointed Officer Commanding Training Group which included the Tracking and Bush Survival School, the notorious “Wafa Wafa”, on the shores of Lake Kariba.

Joining the South African Special Forces in 1980 as a member of 5 Reconnaissance Regiment, Scott-Donelan commanded the Regiment’s Developmental Wing which was responsible for establishing a complete training and operational resource base as well as conducting training programs for several guerrilla armies.  Five years later, he was seconded to the South-West-Africa Territorial Force as Company Commander and responsible for operations against the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia, which was infiltrating into South-West-Africa/Namibia from Angola and Zambia.

In 1988, David was fortunate to win a slot in a U.S. Immigration Lottery, and the opportunity to relocate to America. However, it was not until 1994 that several police and corrections officers from Washington State convinced him to run a tracking class for them. The class was a resounding success and as a result he opened his first tracking school, as a sole proprietorship to provide Rhodesian style tactical man-tracking instruction for law enforcement and military personnel. While not new to America, the tracking subject had not been taught in the USA since the end of the Vietnam War. Expanding slowly at first, David’s company eventually experienced exceptional growth in training the military. David has served as an Expert Witness for the Federal Court System, as a Subject Matter Expert on Combat Tracking for the US Marine Corps Combat Hunter Project, and was the driving force and creator of the US Army Combat Tracking School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Ultimately on January 1, 2010, David started The Scott-Donelan Tracking School in Tombstone, Arizona. With a highly experienced cadre of instructors, TSDTS’s goal is to train students in all three facets of tracking: Tactical, Combat, and Search and Rescue. Tracking is no longer a lost art, but rather a revitalized modern science.“Train with the Originators, not the Imitators….”

SIGMA 3 just started a tactical tracking program and we will be running certification programs with DSD. If you have an interest in becoming certified by the top combat tracker then please click the link below.

Click Here if your interested in obtaining a Combat Tracking Certification from the Scott Donelan Tracking School

Hey Everyone,

This is gonna be another round of ‘As the World Turns’, starring Robert in the woods. Well we went out this last weekend from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. Got to do a lot of things, so I’ll just start from the beginning. It was a hot night this last Friday and the bugs/humidity were out in full force. We made a fire and got our beds ready. After prepping camp we decided to go forage a bit before dark. The wild edibles were quite scarce and there weren’t many real quick tasty bites to be had. Found some wild plums that I harvested to stuff our roast chicken with for later that night. Also found some Sumac seeds and collected a pocket full so that I could make some of my famous sumac lemonade later. Sumac lemonade is really tasty even without sugar!

The sun fell over the ridge and we stopped foraging to head back to camp! We all pitched in to get the fire cranking and I threw the chicken in the dutch oven to roast up for us. Cooked it for around two hours with fire from below and coals on the lid. We ate dinner and turned in for the night.

The next morning we awoke to start working on the camp but decided that it was miserably hot and that we should go fishing instead. I made some mouthwash from oak bark and sassafras to clean my mouth out and we went to the pond. My wisdom teeth began acting up so the mouth-wash was a great medicinal remedy to keep my mouth clean and to help any soreness from infection.

When we got down to the pond I hooked up a little fishing rig that has always worked well for me in the past. I tied a trot line to the end of a long stick and used a small stick as a bobber. From that stick I tied the bait on to the bobber and used the stick as a way to throw my bait out there. I had killed a copperhead last night and I chopped it up in small pieces and used it as bait. Snake is personally my favorite bait to use because of its ability to stay on the hook for a very long time and the fact that the fish love eating them. Last year I caught ten fish on one tiny baby water moccasin that was not longer than my pointer finger! They really do work great! I put a few fish sets out and then we went to my favorite fishing spot for me to personally watch. As soon as I threw it in we had a hit within less than a minute and a fish on shore. After that we hooked a medium sized turtle that we let go. All in all, it wasn’t a killin but we had caught enough to get some much needed protein. Also made a minnow trap that was highly effective. I caught 5 minnows within the first minute and had a sushi meal in minutes from nothing but a water bottle! The school will be posting a video later on how to make this little trap. I also whittled a primitive gorge hook and showed how to make line out of willow to show the guys how you could catch fish if you had no equipment at all.

The next day a friend and I went up to the cliffs that overlook the whole valley up behind camp. You could literally see for 20 miles up there. With a set of binoculars it felt like there wasn’t anything that we couldn’t see. I whittled a trap while we contemplated the cosmos and enjoyed the cool northerly breeze. The two of us had taken the hard route up the cliff face and needed a little of God’s air conditioning to cool us off. After an hour or so we called it a day and headed back. As we walked we started playing a tracking game that I like to play. One person turns away while the other person walks about 50 yards to a spot of their choosing. When the person tells you they are done, you turn around and track each one of their tracks until you walk up to them. It is a good little drill for training to be able to see tracks quickly in debris and other substrates. You should always be trying to read the pressure releases because they will tell you exactly where the next track should be. After a short game of it we reached camp and I began crafting some trap triggers. Such as the modified figure 4 deadfall and the twitch up snare trigger. We walked down to an area I knew to be filled with game and did some tracking right before dark. We went to a spot I knew was full of raccoon dens. We trained on setting up the snare in high probability locations. After setting the snare we removed them and went back to the road.

I got a feeling that we should go down to the open field by the pond we fished in earlier to check for wildlife. I suspected that we might run into some deer. We rolled up into the field and sure enough their was a small herd of deer just north of us a couple hundred yards away. Then I looked to the east and a doe and fawn had popped out to forage on the field. Adam and I watched them for awhile and then headed back to camp before it got completely dark.

When we got back to camp I stoked the fire to make a smudge to fumigate my tick infested clothing. We had been through some dense bush and I had picked up a slug of seed ticks on my pants. So I took off my pants and hung them over a tripod in order to fumigate the ticks. After that it was time to crash!

We spent the rest of the next morning tracking and looking at different flora around the property. After that we decided it was time to roll it up for the weekend, so we cleaned up camp and headed back for the weekend. This is just a short rundown of our first Sigma III survival weekend to let you know a little bit about what kind of things we are going to be doing. As we progress the weekends will get more intense and will be more training oriented. This was just a little meet and greet weekend with members I have been chatting with for sometime. I just want to take a moment and say that I appreciate everyone coming out and that I hope you had as enjoyable time as I did. Thanks and look forward to seeing everyone in our upcoming classes.

Josh said on 9/17/10 – 01:21AM

Comment: I had an awesome time! I wish I could have stayed longer, but duty calls. Actually ended up getting a call from the fire department as soon as I got back in town…a little girl went missing in Barling so we did a big ground search. Bummer evening. I’m really looking forward to more weekends at the camp!

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