(Photo: Eugeny Vasenev via Shutterstock)

How can I find a reputable tracking class?

I went to a school and was promised I would be able to track a mouse across a cement floor after a week. I couldn't. Is it possible to get that good, that fast?

Tony Nester

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Jack, it sounds like you have fallen for an old trick used by a tracker bent on mysticism! Tracking is a science and not something that involves smoke and mirrors. So I’d say consider spending time with a qualified tracker and then you will get more realistic results and skills. For starters, check out the International Society of Professional Trackers (ISPT), which hosts annual training sessions by some of today’s top trackers.

Over the years, I have had the good fortune of spending time with professional trackers Jim Halfpenny and Harley Shaw, along with numerous SAR (Search & Rescue) trackers. The first thing I realized was how much scientific thought goes into deciphering tracks. These professionals will analyze and factually explain what they are seeing so that you can learn the skills to repeat their process. If your tracking teacher prefers instead to fabricate stories about special tracking methods that will only work for them, then run the other way. You are being duped.


Skill in tracking comes with plenty of fieldwork over many seasons and hard work. Like any worthwhile outdoor skill it takes practice and is a perishable skill. Take a class with a reputable instructor or school that teaches skills, and not tricks, and you will lay a good foundation.

Lead Photo: Eugeny Vasenev via Shutterstock

promo logo