6-22 The Fascinating 1920s with Lauri Robinson

Monday, January 7, 2019

Tracking in 2018 by Paty Jager

The favorite book I read in 2018 is Tom Brown, Jr's The Science and Art of Tracking. It entertained me even when I wasn't reading it! 

I purchased the book to help me understanding tracking because the main character in my new mystery series is a Master Tracker. I enjoyed reading about how the author of the book was fascinated by tracking as a child and was lucky enough to grow up next to a boy whose grandfather was an Apache elder. He augmented the author's knowledge in the forest. 

The book tells how as a small child he was interested in the marks made by animals, and continued to learn with books borrowed from the library until he met "Grandfather". The author and his friend spent hours in the forest with Grandfather learning what to look for and what wasn't there that told you how to find a trail. 

The lessons he learned from Grandfather and his own one track focus gave me insight into how a person needed to be tuned into their surroundings more than the average person. This helped me conjure up my character Gabriel Hawke, a Nez Perce/ Cayuse descendant whose grandfather taught him tracking. 

The book explains how to tell if an animal or person is looking one way or the other just by their tracks. Living in a rural area, my walks started taking longer as I tried my hand at tracking. One thing I learned, while I had good intentions, I don't have the attention to detail that a good tracker needs. 

There is a section in the book that shows how to read tracks by using sand. Well, I just so happened to have
making footprints
been to the beach on a retreat right after reading the book. I would stand and look one way and then the other and study the imprints. And I could see there was a difference in depth and marks. I also walked in circles, noting the change or shift of weight that deepened the tracks in different places. 

I didn't however get down on my hands and knees to figure out which direction an ant went. It was a lesson Grandfather taught the author. He finally figured it out by the small particles of sand on a rock. Whew! That is an eye for detail!

Reading this book and experiencing my own little efforts of tracking helped me to develop Gabriel Hawke, a Fish and Wildlife State Trooper. 

His first book is on pre-order and releasing Jan. 20th. 

Book 1

The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength...
And also his biggest weakness. 

Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers.
However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.

He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.
Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship? 



Unknown said...

Fascinating post, Paty. I was telling a friend just yesterday about my fascination as a child with nature including learning the difference in prints on the ground. Of course living in the city limited my explorations but did not dim my interest. This post is one of the reasons I love your writing - research! You do it and I can learn from you without doing the research myself.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you, unknown! I believe a book should be entertaining and teach the reader something. Even if it's just about an occupation you hadn't known about, a culture, or anything, that you didn't know. I always put something in a book I don't know so I can research for my book and get to learn. I was the student in school who took my books home even if I didn't have any homework because I wanted to keep reading and learn more.

Sarah Raplee said...

Paty, can't wait to read your new book about Gabriel Hawke! I'm fascinated by how trackers do what they do. I'm going to have to read your favorite read of 2018 as well. Thank you for sharing how you did your research for A Murder of Ravens.

Maggie Lynch said...

Wow! Tracking an ant is amazing. I agree with others have said. One of the things I love about your books is the research you do. I'm looking forward to reading this first Gabriel Hawke novel.

I have a fascination with people who do tracking (not tracking itself). Not only do they have great attention to detail, but they must be extremely patient, and I expect rather silent in general.

As for me, I would be the lousiest tracker in the world. I can't even find my way home on roads I've traveled all the time. (Thank you GPS for saving me) I am not a good observer of things--buildings, trees, weather. Though I can concentrate long enough to stay out of trouble. I've always been an observer of people. The physical world around them escapes me.

Paty Jager said...

Sarah, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope I've conveyed Hawke's patience and his eye for detail in the books. It's something I have to work on remembering as I write in his POV.

Hi Maggie, Thanks for stopping in! I agree, it takes a certain type of person to have the calm and focus. Several of the stories in the book on master tracking the author pointed out how he became so engrossed in the tracking he didn't realize until almost too late he was being stalked by a cougar and the criminal he was hunting. So there is a disadvantage to being too focused.