|There are a number of things that a student can
do to increase his ability to travel, see, and understand things that are going
on about him at night. One of the greatest tools is the tool of the blindfold,
which I took you through on your Standard class. Not only does the blindfold
improve your stalking ability and your balance, but it also enables you to
travel through the darkened world with little or no effort. Your body becomes a
huge receptor looking for every little tickle and branch and tuft of grass that
may come into your path. Another thing a student can do at night is to use
splatter vision. The unfocused vision to the peripheral aids so much in night
vision that it is beyond description. When we focus on anything at night, the
area of our focus is not very receptive to the low light levels. But, if we were
to glance across the landscape using splatter vision, we would be using more of
our night vision, more of the area of our eyes that is susceptible to low levels
Another thing we can do to improve our night
awareness is to use the focused hearing that I taught you during your Standard
class. By simply cupping the ears and forming huge ear pockets, much like a deer
or coyote's ears, we are better able to pick up sounds in the distance. Our
ears, unlike our eyes, are using splatter hearing all the lime, or unfocused
hearing. By cupping our ears we begin to focus that hearing much as the animals
do and are able to pick up directional sounds at greater distances.
The use of the horizon in night vision is very
important. While looking off across the landscape trying to see movement of
animals, if you can get lower than the horizon and silhouette everything against
that horizon, you will better be able to see those animals and things that are
passing. You will pick out shapes a lot more effectively. I call it horizon
vision. By using the horizon vision, and the unfocused or splatter vision, you
are going to see so many more nocturnal animals.
Another one of our skills, or tools that is
forgotten is our sense of touch. To touch is to know, and at night touch is so
very important to understanding what is going on in the landscape. A person with
a good sense of touch and who has practiced touching many things can easily pick
out trails on the landscape, and can easily pick the identity of trees and
various shrubs. I once had a student come through my school who was almost
totally blind. Not only could he do bow-drill and build himself a leaf hut, but
he could name edible plants by their touch, their feel, and their smell. He
could name trees by the feel of their bark. With the use of his senses of
hearing, touching, and smell, he could track across the landscape almost as well
as a person with eyes.
Remember, fifty percent of your tracking is
done with the eyes, the other half with your sense of touch. If you can heighten
this sense in the woods at night, you are going to experience so much more than
you would if you stumbled around without using any of these skills. At night
your eyes are minimized, so try to use the other four senses to got you through.
From The Tracker magazine, May 1982,
published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the
Tracker Trail website.