In a disaster or survival situation, the world as we know will be a much dangerous place. People who are not prepared will get desperate and desperate people are dangerous. If you are bugging out on foot a valuable skill to have would be the ability to move undetected through wooded areas. It’s highly likely a vehicle will not be an option due to massive amounts of people attempting to relocate. Roads could be completely shut down or blocked, and are likely to be very dangerous.
When bugging out moving through the woods will be a safer way of moving, but will not be the safest. Covering your tracks as you move will throw off, or altogether prevent people seeking to do you harm from following you.
While it’s uncommon to encounter an experienced tracker, you should plan for anything and everything. Planning around the worst possible scenario will deal with all the other people trying to track you.
How do you cover your tracks while you’re moving? Well, you are supposed to grab a branch and sweep away your footprints right? No, this doesn’t work and leaves tell tale signs, plus trying to brush away every track you make is an exercise in insanity. This will slow you down to nearly a crawl as well.
The most effective anti-tracking measure is prevention. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The methods used to prevent making a trail are numerous, and each allows for a wide freedom of movement. If these methods are used habitually, they will become second nature. While these methods may slow you down at first, once they become a habit you can plan your travels with them, and eventually implementations of these tactics will not even slow you down.
First off is proper field craft. Humans tend to be a bit lazy, and once they hit the woods this laziness becomes potentially fatal. Light, noise, and trash discipline is the most basic preventive measure. Leaving food wrappers, water bottles, and cigarette butts lying around is basically asking for someone to track you down. Trash should be buried in a nondescript area.
The casual use of a flashlight at night will quickly become a become a beacon at night. If one needs to use a flashlight it should be used quickly and efficiently, and a red lens or beam is preferable. Noise, well that’s self-explanatory, humans make human noises, and it’s easy to follow the sound.
Avoid the Green
When it comes to actual movement, try to avoid thick brush. As you walk through the brush you may form a very easy to follow trail for anyone looking. Even if you do not form a trail, you may be leaving one. Rarely are green leaves on the ground, unless they are in a pile, when moving through thick brush you are bound to knock leaves to the ground as you move, and they will form a trail of breadcrumbs for anyone looking.
Game trails are often hard packed from constant movement and will leave few tracks, and due to the constant movement from animals it is unlikely you’ll have to worry about disturbing green brush. The one thing you should work on is avoiding breaking any branches above waist level. Humans are much taller than anything else in the woods, so branches broken at advanced heights are a dead giveaway for human movement. If an experienced tracker can’t find footprints he will look for things out of place.
Bodies of Water
I suggest avoiding moving near bodies of water. Throughout our history we as a culture have always gathered around bodies of water, it’s one of our life sources. With that in mind, an experienced tracker is liable to look near water. Not only that but you are more likely to randomly encounter people near bodies of water.
Also if the ground is wet and soft near a body of water you are going to leave tons of tracks that are nearly impossible to avoid making, and completely impossible to fully cover up. If you are forced to enter a body of water to cross it, you should enter and exit on hard ground. Not only that but you should make an attempt to dry your boots and pants a bit, to avoid leaving wet footprints and creating wet leaves as they brush on you.
When it comes to taking a break you need to observe creating a tell tale rest site. Avoid moving materials around to make the area more comfortable, this is another tell tale sign. Moisture is retained under rocks and trees when it sits for a long period of time, and it’s very apparent for at least a day when an item is moved.
Also be careful if you decide to lean on a tree, be very careful not break branches, and scrape the bark from the trees. Fresh bark scrapes are apparent to even inexperienced trackers and are basically a neon lit sign that indicates you were here.
If you heavily suspect or know someone is tracking you there are a few measures you can take. First off if you are wearing boots wrap some kind of heavy cloth around the bottom, this prevents your treads from digging in and leaving tracks. Alternatively you could add a pair of moccasins to your bug out bug. A good pair of leather moccasins are strong and tough enough to protect your feet and leave little to no tracks. Even when being tracked, avoid running until necessary, and always make deliberate movements. Two things run in the woods, those about to kill, and those about to be killed.
Stealthy movement is all about being deliberate, thought out and when necessary, slow. Trackers vary in skill, but again it’s always important to plan for the worst. Careful movement is difficult at first, but the more you do it, the easier and habitual it will become.
These tricks will help cover your tracks in a wilderness setting, and after constant practice will become second nature.
Do you have any tips for avoiding being tracked? Let me know in the comments below.