Monday, April 10, 2017

Shadow Wolves Tracking Skills

            The skills used by the Shadow Wolves seem unbelievable, even verging on magical, to outsiders, yet to them it is a way of life.  The way they make their job look easy is by constant practice.  Further, training to be a Shadow Wolf is not like ICE or CBP training where an individual goes off to a month of training.  Rather, it is the team working together, constantly improving their own skills and learning off each other, like a wolf pack.  While the requirement of being 1/4th Native American to join the program may draw some people to the conclusion that the native peoples are naturally better at tracking than a non-native, rather some Native Americans have far more practice having begun tracking game for food, and hunting down stray free range cattle .  Sioux Indian John Bothof explains that “Just because you’re Native American, you don’t always have inherent tracking skills…Over time, anybody can be taught the basics, but it takes on-going practice to keep the edge and retain what it takes to be a success” .
            The process that the Shadow Wolves use, called cutting for sign, may be old fashioned, but in the dessert climate it has its advantages, “Part of what makes the Shadow Wolves so indispensable here has to do with the region's deadly heat, which debilitates things like infrared sensors and smart-nosed dogs. And part of it has to do with the region's far-flung geography, which discourages the sort of fixed towers and manned gates” .  Still their ancient skills are what enables them to excel in any environment. 

1 comment:

  1. Digges, you might already know about this, but there is a theory that tracking and a style of hunting called "persistence hunting", which means chasing down prey over very long distances on foot, played an instrumental role in the evolution of the human ability to think abstractly. The evidence is mixed, but its an interesting idea. Here is a link to an article that argues for it.

    The basic idea as I understand it is that tracking requires creating a mental model of how an animal interacts with its environment - an animal which is not present and may be only hypothetical. Since humans have a poor sense of smell relative to other predators this modeling effort and spatial reasoning would have been especially important determinants of a successful hunt among our ancestors.