Process of determining time lapse since sign was made,
considering all factors of vegetation damage, rain, sun, and other natural
A hot follow-up conducted while the fugitives are still on the move.
Foot or body marks left upon the ground indicating that a certain
identifiable action has taken place.
Those areas that would cause a person to take extra steps, change
stride, or travel pattern and leave signs more obvious or observable that
the normal travel route to trackers. Most often referred to as Natural Barriers and Man Made Barriers.
See Also: Natural Barriers, Man Made Barriers.
Damage to Vegetation usually indicated by color variation contrasting
with the surrounding area of the same vegetation, caused by the tearing or
crushing of leaf or stem surfaces.
Walking backwards, usually across a road or natural barrier, generally
associated with an attempt to confuse sign by showing an incorrect
direction of travel.
Small particles or twigs which are uniquely broken in such a way as to
indicate damage from human footprints.
Using a branch, grass or clothing, etc . in an attempt to erase tracks
from an area, primarily used to conceal numbers in a party, but not their presence.
A planned and systematic search for tracks, used when tracks are lost
and cannot be found by standard lost spoor procedures. Natural lines which
surround the area are identified from the map and systematically searched
for evidence of tracks cutting that line.
Spoor or sign left by passage or removal of
wounded or dead personnel.
Areas of ground surface compressed in the correct size and shape to
reflect the impression of a human footprint. Footprint compressions may be
found on loose ground surface soil or debris, vegetation both dead and
living and even surface moisture on pavement.
|Continuity of Sign
The evidence of footprints in proper sequence and spacing along a line
of sign that may or may not be unidentifiable.
The natural weeping of vegetation fluids (sap) resulting from footfall
damage to the vegetation, also evident in bruising.
To attempt to confuse, disguise or conceal sign by covering with
natural substances, brushing out or using a means to cover or make sign
difficult to see. Also used to deceive or confuse the direction of travel,
or disguise the number of persons in the group.
See Also: Deception.
Any and all methods, techniques or attempts, to counter a trackers active efforts to find, follow or read
See Also: Camouflage, Deception.
|Cutting For Sign
An operation used principally along natural barriers to locate human
This is the person who controls a follow-up and is responsible for its
tactical decisions, movement , formations and the general conduct of the
team. He is always in visual contact with the Tracker and provides the
Tracker with close in defense and protection.
|Command and Control (or Command Post)
The C2 element of a follow-up is normally static and is the higher
formation to which a tracking team reports. It follows the progress of a
tracking operation, deploys other teams and assets according to the
developing situation, liaison with other organizations, arranges re-supply
to the tracking teams but does NOT, repeat NOT interfere with the conduct
of the teams on the ground.
Tracks or other evidence left on the ground which are indisputably left
by the fugitives.
See; Tactical Tracking
Attempting to confuse, disguise or conceal sign by walking
backward, brushing out, or other means, to deceive or confuse direction of
travel, number of persons, or presence of sign.
See Also: Camouflage.
|Deliberate Vegetation Damage
Tips or tops of branches, brush or weeds broken by persons as they pass
through an area or other intentional damage to mark or blaze a traveled
Any disturbance of the natural state of ground surface, i.e. disturbed
leaf litter, loose debris, and duff caused by a footprint.
|Dislodged (Stick or Rock)
A rock, stick or other object dislodged or moved from its previous
position by footprint movement. The dislodged object may be adjacent to
the area from which it was moved or not within the prime sign area.
Any small object, pebble, stone, stick, etc. impressed into soil or
vegetation due to footprint compression of the ground surface.
Animal routings or trails or other seeming natural
pathways most commonly through grasslands or underbrush, but not having
been left by the person or persons being followed. False trails may be the
result of either human or animal travel.
|Flagged / Flagging
Vegetation such as leaves, branches or grasses
turned in the direction of travel. Other types of flagging are the
underside of leaf surfaces, small branch entanglement, grasses swept into
a rounded form or with tops pointing at an angle in the direction of
See Also; Flank Tracker.
There are two flank trackers in a tracking team, one
positioned on each side and slightly ahead of the tracker. Their primary
function is to protect the Tracker and Controller from ambush and to
assist in the search for lost spoor. Their secondary mission is to
undertake close-in recon and the identification of "track
traps". They must remain in visual contact with the controller at all
times unless deployed on wide 360 searches or recon tasks.
This is a group of armed individuals who accompany a
tracking team, always in the rear and in radio contact, to provide
additional fire power to the tracking team if the tactical situation
The shine, flattening, bending, intertwining of grass due
to footprints through grassy areas.
The curved mark, indication or depression on the ground
surface made by initial impact of the heel portion of footgear usually a
result of the normal walking motion.
The process by which vegetation closes and cures damaged areas
caused by human footfalls or passage, and animal or other natural
circumstances. This is a primary sign-aging element.
Brush, weeds or long grass stems that become
intertwined due to footfall and lower leg travel brushing them in the
direction of travel.
Seeing sign that is not present, usually because of
fatigue and/or a "need" to see it. To fabricate within the
"mind's eye." A trackers tendency to try to make footprint
characteristics where natural surface imperfections, shadowing, or
|Initial Commencement Point (ICP)
The point on the ground where a
tracking team commences following the spoor. This need not be the site of
the incident but could be at another point somewhere along the trail.
The ability to read the "story" left by the
Refers to the use of tracking skills to
detect track evidence at a given scene, recreate the events there, and
meticulously identify various individuals who had been at the scene.
The forceful impact of a footfall or portion thereof that makes a
definable impression and generally scatters ground surface often throwing
surface materials or debris in the direction of travel.
Also See: Explosion.
|Last Known Place (LPK)
A term used to denote the “Last Known Place”
where the subject was. This location is often established as the result of
The correct angle from the viewers’ eye to the sign and
to the available light source for the optimum observance of sign.
|Line of Sign
The sequential sign indicating a human or animal route of travel.
Scattered debris, rubbish, or trash that may be dropped or
deposited in the presence or passage of humans.
|Last Definitive Sign
Tracking of human beings and, by extension their devices,
such as vehicles.
|Man Made Barriers
Those man-made areas such as roads, fence
lines, edges of fields, ditches, etc. which can interrupt human passage or
cause change of stride, exaggerated or additional footprint sign that will
be more easily seen by trackers.
Those naturally created areas such as stream beds,
banks, hill sides, brush lines or other changes in vegetation, or ground
surfaces that generally can interrupt human passage, or cause change of
stride, exaggerated or additional footprint sign that will be more easily
seen by trackers.
|Place Last Seen (PLS)
The place where witnesses or evidence indicates the subject was last
A term associated with sign cutting operation of looking
for sign in relation to a known point or object, often the PLS or LKP.
Perimeter cuts are used to limit or eliminate search areas by looking (or
cutting) for sign around the perimeter of the search area.
One member of the three person tracking team described
graphically as the top point of the triangle formation. This person is
responsible for print identification, determining the prime sign area, and
tracking stick location of the "next" print focus in the
|Prime Sign Area
The area of correct size and location in relation to the other
sign, in which the next print should be located.
This word is used as an alternative to "fugitive",
"target", or "the pursued."
Usually, open surface soft dirt areas, occurring naturally
or man-made, which by their nature will impress, depress or compress
easily leaving obvious footfall evidence.
See Also: Track Trap.
The mark or sign caused by footfalls contacting firm ground
surfaces and disturbing the surface indicating movement in a determinable direction of travel.
The skill of locating, following and identifying evidence of human
presence or passage. A tracking operation used principally along natural and
man-made barriers to locate human sign and/or that operation used in
conjunction with multiple team operations to advance the prime sign in an
organized and regimented manner.
See Also: Man Made Barriers, Natural Barriers.
|Sign Cutting Stick
A stick or other suitable object, used by some trackers as an aid for measuring, marking and locating prime
A tracking measurement from tip of toe of one normal
walking step to back of heel of the next successive step. This measurement
is commonly associated with the tracking stick and used to locate the next
footprint in the prime sign area.
The light reflection from human footprint damage or compression
of ground surfaces. Grasses and loose debris are compressed or compacted
together uniformly causing the reflection of light from a surface within
the compressed or damaged area.
All evidence, not limited to footprints of a persons presents or
Evidence of a person's passage.
See Also: Sign.
Footprint evidence clearly displaying unique
characteristics so as to be unmistakably identifiable as the footwear
Spoor means a set of tracks laid upon the ground and visible to a
tracker. For example, "following the spoor." Spoor is totally
interchangeable with the words "tracks", "trail", and
"set of prints".
Evidence left on the ground which is inconclusive
in itself but taken into account with other evidence is considered as
likely to have been left by the quarry.
|Spoor Separation Point
A point on the ground where the fugitive group
splits up into more than one distinct group.
Is a individual trained to employ aggressive and interdisciplinary (spoor/sign
awareness, field craft, and tactics) approach to man-tracking and military
style scouting and patrolling.
Universally accepted method of training personnel
to detect, interpret, and follow very subtle track evidence. This method
of tracking involves finding and analyzing the area of every footstep in a
given line of tracks.
The condition in which a tracker is totally
fatigued to the point of losing concentration, focus and ability to be
A trackers physical condition usually caused by extreme
eyestrain and evidenced by the inability to recognize obvious sign and/or
creating sign where there is none, and/or the inability to determine the
difference between possibilities and probabilities of sign.
Soil, debris, green chlorophyll (vegetation) or other evidence impacted on
footgear in one footfall and carried forward to the next and possibility
succeeding footprints and deposited as a part of that footfall impression.
An area occurring naturally or specifically prepared; such
as a sand trap, to capture the footprint evidence of the presence or
passage of a person.
See Also: Sand Trap.
When tracking or conducting a follow-up of armed and
dangerous fugitives, a four-man tracking team is employed. A Tracking Team
consists of a tracker, two Flank Trackers and a controller. It is a
trained, self-contained tactical unit which provides its own protection,
moves in various formations according to the situation, terrain and
vegetation conditions. It is capable of confronting and overcoming most
tactical problems it may face whilst deployed on a follow-up. Teams may
never be smaller then two persons for mutual security.
The tracker is a member of a tracking team who is physically
looking for and following a set of tracks. * NOTE: A tracker is NOT, and
at no time should be used as, a "Point Man". His sole task is to
search for and follow the spoor.
When involved in lost spoor procedures, trackers,
under the direction of the controller, systematically move round in a
circle in an attempt to locate the lost tracks. This circle is known as a
three-sixty, after the 360 degrees in a circle.
|Time and Distance Gap (T/D Gap)
The theoretical distance which fugitives could
move over the ground between the time of the incident and the time which
the trackers arrive to commence a follow-up.
Refers to the art and science of detecting, interpreting, following,
and preserving the evidence of the presence or passage of any animal or
The act of following any given set of tracks to its conclusion.
This is the relentless, aggressive, team based approach to tracking
armed and dangerous quarry, which has been developed and refined in
military and police operations worldwide.
A tracker who has learned a set of skills and can apply those skills
within the context in which they were learned.
Also See: Sign Cutting Stick.
Broken, abraded or otherwise damaged leaves, stems or branches of
plants often described by trackers as bruising, smashing, crushing,
splitting or other damage caused by the deliberate or inadvertent footfall
or stepping resulting from the presence or passage of a person.
A term used when in conjunction with a tracking group that also has a
tracking dog. Dogs are scent trackers, hence the title visual tracker for
the human tracker.