Feet on the Ground

You can often tell the physical condition of a subject with regard to intoxicants or medical condition.

Afterwards, Sir Smith wrote, Also, from an examination of his footwear, I was able to build up quite a distinctive picture of the man... he walked with a limp... The burglar, who subsequently confessed, had suffered polio as a child, with spinal curvature and a shortened leg.

Perhaps they can tell the tracker whether a person is lying. During his trial, the Jeremiah Locust defense claimed that he was off his insulin (he was diabetic) and intoxicated when he shot and killed NPS Ranger Joe Kolodski on Father's Day, 1998, at Big Witch Overlook in the Great Smoky Mountains. Trackers went back and painstakingly accounted for his travel and actions after the murder (in very rough terrain), taking casts of the prints and photographing them in place. They were able to successfully illustrate beyond any doubt based upon track evidence that Locust was in complete command of his faculties, thus negating this defense. The result? The conviction of a cop killer.

You might note also that it was tracking that allowed for the recovery of the murder weapon and track evidence that first put Locust at the murder scene.

It is also crucial to note in the Kolodski murder case that the trackers were not only able to interpret what the footprints were telling them, they were able to understandably articulate and explain their findings to the judge and the jury. If you want to do more than run a fugitive down it's critical that you be able to read the tracks in the context of the environment, the conditions and the case. Baden-Powell made the case over a century ago and that truth remains the same.

Being able to track is of little use unless you can also read the meanings of the racks. In tracking you find a lot of small signs, and then comes in the art of 'putting this and that together', and so getting information from them.

These are just a few of the things you can learn by examining and understanding a set of tracks. We'll look at more in the future.

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