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6 tracker-approved skills you need for wilderness survival

Have you seen “The Hunted”  with Tommy Lee Jones? Fugitive tracking that leads LEOs through the thicket of the woods may be rare, but having the skills necessary to outwit other survivalists is a pretty cool badge to earn. Some extreme survivalists consider the techniques an adventure and have taken up the skillset as a hobby.

Take a few pointers from the curriculum of Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School, founded by noted tracker and wilderness expert Tom Brown Jr., and fine-tune these key skills for wilderness survival:


We all know that without food we can’t survive. Being able to procure food is the first lesson in survival, but it can be the most challenging, too. There are many components that go into hunting animals and properly identifying edible plants.

For hunting, you’ll need to understand tracking basics to identify what it is you’re hunting. The basics of tracking include knowing what different animals’ droppings look like and knowing what their footprints (or tracks) look like. This is especially important because the traps you set will be specific to the species you’re hunting. You cannot set one trap and expect to catch whatever is around.

You will also need to know which is the best tool for each animal. One tool called a rabbit stick, is a ballistic hunting weapon, whittled from a branch into a light curve (think boomerang). These throwing sticks can be useful to hunt small game like rabbits, ducks, and squirrels.Learn how to make a rabbit stick here.

Foraging is the next component to food procurement. Learning how to identify edible plants is an invaluable skill but will take time to learn. Unfortunately, trial and error isn’t an option when you’re dealing with potentially deadly flora. According to the botany program at the University of Hawaii, one way to tell if a mushroom is poisonous is to cook it with a silver coin. If the coin turns black when cooked the mushroom you’ve picked is poisonous. Another trick is to watch animal behaviors – if animals are seen eating the mushroom, then it is not poisonous.


Learning how to purify your water is literally a matter of life or death. If you are not near a water source, try dew collecting – you can collect dew from clothing by leaving clothes out overnight and wringing out the natural collection each morning (the same works if you’ve been subjected to rain or other water sources). If you’re good at foraging, you can squeeze water from certain non-poisonous plants, too.

To purify water, boiling is a great choice, but you’ll have to be in a situation where creating a fire is possible. If you can’t boil water, a solar still is a great way to distill water – you can use the heat of the sun to evaporate, and collect water.


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