Modern Visual Tracking: From Stone Age To Space Age

posted in: Tracking | 13

A Presentation By David Scott-Donelan

David Scott-Donelan is a world-renowned tracking authority.

In the past we have hosted David’s Level 1 Tracking Course at Frontier Bushcraft. After one such course in 2014, David accompanied us to the Bushcraft Show, where we had organised for him to give a main stage presentation on modern tracking techniques.

David – or DSD as he is often referred to – and his company The Scott-Donelan Tracking School are at the forefront of modern tracking applications.

Tracking is not some archaic skill as some would have you believe. It is actively used by police forces, military units, park rangers, anti-poaching groups, as well as search and rescue teams.

The basis of tracking remains as it ever did. But there have also been modern developments in the way tracking is used as well as some of the technology which can now be brought to bear to augment our own human faculties.

In the above presentation David provides a thorough overview of modern visual tracking, a perspective he is uniquely qualified to provide.

You can also watch the presentation here on YouTube.

He starts with the basics that any tracker should know and moves onto some of the readily available modern technology which is being used by trackers.

Footprints in the sand with overlay of the tracking concepts of stride and pitch angle
David explains the system of studying the dynamics of a footprint and what it can tell us. Photo courtesy of David Scott-Donelan.
Polaroid Pocket Printer
Modern technology is being used in some ingenious ways to augment the contemporary tracker’s abilities. Photo courtesy of David Scott-Donelan.

Tracking skills are not just for the professional trackers. The abilities and awareness provided by being a trained tracker are of benefit to anyone who loves being outdoors.

In one of the slides of his presentation, DSD lists some of the comments from past students about what they gained from attending a tracking course:

  • Increased situational awareness
  • Increased observational skills
  • Learning to move silently
  • Gain confidence in outdoor environments
  • Moving in tune with the environment
  • Ability to interpret (read) tracks
  • Who, What, Where, Why and How
  • At one with your surroundings
  • Develop a “sixth sense”
  • A ‘COOL’ skill!
  • Immerses yourself into your surroundings

If you’d like to begin to develop tracking skills, then check out our Tracking and Natural Awareness Course.

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Paul Kirtley is owner and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog as well as for various publications including Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine.

13 Responses

  1. Paul Allen

    I’m learning to track and have been practicing following deer and my fav target at the moment is a rat family lol, so this is a very interesting vid to me at this time and a big thank you for sharing it, thumbs up 🙂

    Paul Allen

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear that you are getting into your tracking. There’s always something to fascinate, even down to the smallest detail.

      Glad you enjoyed this video too.

      Warm regards,


  2. Phil Robinson

    Hey Paul, thanks for putting this up. Usual good stuff from DSD. Have shared it on the Tackers UK FB page.



  3. Phil robinson

    For anyone looking up the page on FB it’s actually “Tracking UK”



  4. Pierluigi Tucci

    Hi Paul,
    very interesting video!

    Sooner or later I will ahead on hat fascinating art.

    Many thanks for sharing it.

    Warm regards

    Pierluigi Tucci

  5. paul russell

    Thank you for sharing DSDs presentation with us. It was very interesting to see how tec is changing tracking. I personally prefer not to get technically dependant. Not that I would consider myself a Luddite, but I do prefer to leave the tec to the teccys.
    Very interesting none the less, and always great to listen to someone with such vast experience, skills and knowledge on the subject. Thank you.

  6. Tommy

    What is the name / brand of the tracking camera, David showed on 29.36min in the video?

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