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Entering the Mind of the Tracker
Native Practices for Developing Intuitive Consciousness and Discovering Hidden Nature
Table of Contents
About The Book
• Explains technical tracking methods and observational skills such as shadowing and envisioning through the innermost thoughts of an accomplished native tracker
• Reveals how to track by expanding your awareness and consciousness to become one with the animal you are tracking
• Shares stories of tracking Wolves, Bears, Deer, Cougars, and many other animals
Stepping beyond the shape of a footprint and into the unseen story of the track, veteran wilderness guide Tamarack Song takes you inside the eyes and mind of an intuitive tracker, with intimate stories where Frogs show the way out of the woods, scat reveals life histories, and Bears demonstrate how to find missing people.
Drawing from his years of surviving in the wild, apprenticing to native elders, and living with a family of wolves, Tamarack reveals how to achieve a level of perception like that of aboriginal trackers by becoming one with the animal you are tracking, whether Fox, Deer, Coyote, or Cougar. Sharing his innermost thoughts while following track and sign, the book’s adventures merge technical tracking methods with skills such as shadowing and envisioning, while demonstrating animal-reading skills considered outside the human realm. The author explains how to expand your awareness--to learn from nature by becoming nature--and tap in to the intuitive tracking consciousness each of us has inherited from our Paleolithic ancestors.
Through his stories from the trail, Tamarack shows the art of tracking not simply as a skill for hunters and naturalists but as a metaphor for conscious living. By exploring the intricacies of the natural world, we explore not only our connections to the world around us but also our internal landscapes. We learn to better express ourselves and listen, meet our needs, and help others. Intuitive tracking provides a path to finding ourselves, becoming one with all life, and restoring humanity’s place in the Great Hoop of Life.
How to Learn Tracking from One of the Greatest Predators
Apprenticing to the Wolf on the Windowsill
When I start talking about the tracking skills I learned from living with master predators, most people who know me think Wolf right away. Without a doubt the family of Wolves who welcomed me into their life when I was a young man gave me intimate knowledge of the hunt. This story, however, is about another type of Wolf, one who patiently instructed me in the mystifying ways of the stalk and the kill. And he showed me their terrible beauty.
Unlike Wolf, this is a teacher available to every one of us. In fact, he’s bound to live somewhere in your part of town. He runs wild in many fields and parks--and possibly even in your backyard. Let me tell you about one day last green season when Stefan, a gung-ho yearlong program student from Switzerland, met this tracking teacher. I walked into camp and Stefan was wearing a smile that wouldn’t quit. “What got into you?” I asked him.
“I’m not sure,” he replied, “but I really like it. At dawn I went up on the ridge by your lodge, and when the sun broke over the horizon it lit up thousands of spiderwebs sprinkled with dew--they carpeted the bog! I don’t think I could have taken a step without destroying one. I can’t imagine how many Spiders there must have been to make all those webs.”
Few people pay much attention to Spiders, and fewer yet realize just how many of them there are. I know a naturalist who claims that in most environments you’re probably not more than an arm’s length from a Spider. There are Spiders who travel on the wind like Dandelion seeds, Spiders who live underground, and Spiders who live underwater. From windblown treetops to the stark faces of skyscrapers, Spiders inhabit virtually every available niche. Some Spiders are active year-round, even here in the North Country, where I see them out and about long after other Bugs have either frozen to death or gone into hibernation. We get temperatures as low as –30 degrees Fahrenheit, and it doesn’t seem to faze the Spiders, who keep their bodies limber by making their own antifreeze.
Like Wolves, Spiders are apex predators--they’re at the top of the Insect food chain. Some Spiders even hunt like Wolves, by stalking up close and then dashing in for the kill, which is a classic example of parallel evolution. As with Wolves, I’ve learned stalking techniques from Spiders that I have used on Grouse, Bears, and humans. I’d like to tell this story in honor of Spider, who along with Wolf has been my esteemed tracking teacher. I have been blessed to live with both of them, and by shadowing them I’ve been able to walk in their footsteps and share in their adventures. They have done much to awaken the intuitive tracker within me, and at the same time they have inspired me to incorporate more of the tracker’s awareness and spontaneity in my daily life.
It all started one winter afternoon in my youth when I was sitting at the window watching a flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding on Hawthorn fruit. However, they weren’t just feeding. There was a social interaction going on, and I was trying to figure it out. That is, until I became mesmerized by a little Wolf Spider stalking a Fly on the windowsill. And I mean little—that Spider was going to have his hands full if he got ahold of that Fly.
Without trying, and without even realizing it, I became Spider. My chest tightened as I felt the dynamic tension he kept so well disguised by his outwardly relaxed state. I adopted his keenness of focus and at the same time maintained overall perspective. Together we synthesized the information and moved accordingly.
The more I became Spider, the clearer I could see that Spider had also become Fly. Again without effort, I felt myself becoming Fly as well. However, it didn’t stop there. I realized Spider had also become the dust and dapples of sunlight on the windowsill, the cold draft seeping through the crack under the window, and the shadows of the fluttering Birds. We were not only in this drama together, we were the drama. We were in the most intimate of relationships--the dance of life and death.
I didn’t dare blink. My senses were keen on every movement, whether it be the smallest flutter of a dry leaf on the branch outside the window, the Fly changing her posture ever so slightly, or the ripple of disturbance created by the appearance of another Fly. I was prepared for anything, from an agonizingly slow stalk to pouncing as fast as a sprung trap if the Fly spooked.
Not quite as cool and centered as my mentor, the Master Stalker, I broke into a nervous sweat. My eyes felt dry and fatigued, and I worried that my movements were growing less and less fluid the closer I approached. Would I pounce too soon, or would I miss because I was too tense?
But that was Tamarack. I had to let him go--I was Spider. I crept closer. And closer. There were times when I might have moved the tiniest bit, but I wasn’t sure. I was a magician duping the audience into thinking no sleight-of-hand occurred. And still you knew something happened, because after all I was a magician.
I made it to about three (spider) body lengths from my quarry, and she took off. Was it me, or did she have some reason of her own to bolt? I didn’t know, and I didn’t give it any thought. No regret or self-blame--I was hungry! Immediately I settled back into cultivating the illusion of benign presence and waited for the next Fly.
- Publisher: Bear & Company (March 24, 2013)
- Length: 304 pages
- ISBN13: 9781591438274
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Raves and Reviews
“Entering the Mind of the Tracker is one of those rare works that captures the essence of nature by exploring its tiniest (and most profound) nuances. Tamarack Song has written what will help achieve one of the most important needs of human beings today--reconnecting with the Earth.”
– Les Stroud, star of the hit TV show Survivorman and author of Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics
“A deeply moving book, wonderfully written; brings home the tremendous beauty of depth perception of the natural world and the exquisite intelligence and sensitivity of our kin--the Wolves. It opens up the possibility for us to read the world around us through the sense perception born within us, and opens up the potential for us to reinhabit the world.”
– Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of The Secret Teachings of Plants and Ensouling Language
“Entering the Mind of the Tracker beautifully demonstrates that outdoor skills are best learned through a deep understanding of environment. Tamarack Song imparts knowledge in a way that is both lyrical and philosophical.”
– Tristan Gooley, expedition leader, author of The Natural Navigator, and the only living person to ha
“I couldn’t put this book down. Tamarack is not telling us the mere mundanities of tracking--he’s showing us a complete communication system that is largely unknown to modern man. Beginning trackers and generalists will love this window into the world of hidden knowledge, and experts will find these stories helpful, insightful, inspiring.”
– Christopher Nyerges, primitive skills instructor, author of How to Survive Anywhere, and former edit
“To track is to live the life of the quarry--mentally, spiritually, and physically. Very few trackers ever reach this level of mastery. Entering the Mind of the Tracker will help you discover the salient truths known by those few, like Tamarack, who have shadowed all living things. Here is a window to the beautiful and foundational knowledge provided by a lifetime of tutelage at the feet of Mother Nature.”
– Ty Cunningham, founder and tracking historian of the International Society of Professional Trackers
“Tracking has become a left-brained skill, involving ruler, track analysis, and GPS to know an animal from its tracks. In Entering the Mind of the Tracker, Tamarack Song offers an intuitive, Zen-like alternative, suggesting that we don’t need to learn to track any more than a Wolf needs to be reminded that he is a hunter. Tracking is in our nature. Whether you are an experienced tracker seeking to improve your ability or a novice intimidated by the left-brained science of conventional tracking, this book opens up exciting opportunities to connect with the story of the land.”
– Thomas J. Elpel, author of Botany in a Day and founder of Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School
“When a human being has passion for wild places, / And pauses, comprehending the spaces around, / Then the tiny notice of a bent twig graces / All the story inside that certain spot of ground. / Such is the inner passion of Tamarack Song, / His stories reflecting the seeing parts of his days / That are so large and informing to us who long/For the revelation of observation’s ways.”
– Larry Dean Olsen, author of Outdoor Survival Skills, progenitor of wilderness therapy, and founder o
“He writes like a storyteller, mindful of the pictures which the sound and combinations of his words create. The sounds, smells, and sights of the northern Wisconsin woods come to life as we read. He tells us that tracking is a metaphor for conscious living, and then he shows us what that means. More than just a book, this is a world that readers can disappear into over and over again. ”
– Anna Jedrziewski, Inannaworks.com, May 2013
“In his latest book, Entering the Mind of the Tracker, Tamarack shares an ancient and vital human process. Revealing a rare and outstanding knowledge of—and connection to—place, this personal story can help people in love with tracking gain helpful insight into the world of intuition and the potential for the journey into traditional ecological knowledge.”
– Jon Young, founder of Wilderness Awareness School, author of What the Robin Knows and Coyote's Guide
“Come in from the cold and warm your heart by the fire of tradition. Master tracker and storyteller Tamarack Song shares the stories and wisdom of a life spent in search of the Ancestral Self. It is trailcraft for the soul.”
– Steve Watts, Aboriginal Studies Program, Schiele Museum of Natural History; and president of the Soc
“Entering the Mind of the Tracker is a marvelous book written by a master storyteller and tracker. Through its powerful and poignant stories you will feel absorbed in the world and spirit of Nature.”
– Joseph Cornell, founder of the Sharing Nature Foundation and author of Sharing Nature with Children
“Brilliant! So fresh, so enticing, even seasoned trackers will be blown wide open, the novice will be jump-started years ahead, and teachers and guides will rejoice! Tamarack Song melds ancient wisdom with modern knowledge and offers us a fun, full, fantastic learning experience.”
– Robin Blankenship, founder of Earth Knack Primitive Skills School and author of Earth Knack: Stone A
“Through his stories from the trail, Tamarack shows the art of tracking not simply as a skill for hunters and naturalists but as a metaphor for conscious living. By exploring the intricacies of the natural world, we explore not only our connections to the world around us but also our internal landscapes. We learn to better express ourselves and listen, meet our needs, and help others. Intuitive tracking provides a path to finding ourselves, becoming one with all life, and restoring humanity’s place in the Great Hoop of Life.”
– Branches of Light, June 2013
“Tamarack Song’s decades of authentic experience living close to the land and guiding others in their quests for meaningful relationship with the natural world infuse his writing and teaching style. Through the traditional teaching methods of stories and direct personal experience, Entering The Mind of the Tracker creates a tremendous opportunity for anyone interested in exploring humankind’s natural roots. As a professional wildlife tracker, photographer, and outdoor educator, I am grateful for the insight and energy that Tamarack’s stories bring to these endeavors. ”
– David Moskowitz, author of Wolves in the Land of Salmon and Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest
“This book is a tool that will guide and inspire you to gain the experience necessary to improve your tracking ability...By exploring the intricacies of the animal world and learning about the teachings of the forest — its ghosts, the invisible trails — through its myriad of stories, you will come closer to enabling yourself, not only in tracking, but in finding the path to yourself as well.”
– Awareness Magazine, July 2013
“No nature collection should be without this in-depth survey, which focuses on developing intuitive tracking talents. From stories from the trail to applying tracking skills as a metaphor for conscious living, this is an outstanding survey highly recommended for any collection strong in natural history, new age readings, and Native practices, alike!”
– Midwest Book Review, July 2013
“Song describes how to become one with many creatures, and includes tips on demystifying canine tracks whether from coyote, fox, wolf or dog. He also has sound, safe advice for educators, naturalists and tracking instructors. Most of us may never be inclined to track in the wild, but we can apply Song’s intuitive techniques to finding ourselves and our place in nature.”
– Nexus Reviews, October 2013
“Entering the Mind of the Tracker points to the wisdom of asking questions rather than having answers.”
– Paul Rezendes, author of The Wild Within and Tracking and the Art of Seeing
“Real stories from the real world, simple and complex at the same time, and well worth pondering!”
– Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
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