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Random Tips & Hacks on Indigenous Awareness, Stalking & Scoutcraft by Mark Hatmaker

The following are some Random Quotes from our Upcoming Book on Indigenous Awareness & Stalking. For release dates and further info see this blog or our free newsletter. Members of our RAW Crew will get early access to the information. Information on joining the RAW crew here.]

  • Birds of the same species flocking together on ground or in trees will take-off/fly as a unit when there is a perceived threat, but there is a pattern here known as a “bird plow.”
  • The first bird to fly is on a sort of designated-watch, this bird is the sentinel. When he/she spots a threat [predator or humans galumphing through the forest or park] the sentinel will give flight in the proper direction of escape, the other birds will follow the same direction, but notice that the sentinel will always be the highest bird in the “bird plow” so that the other birds can clearly see the needed direction of escape.
  • The direction of the bird-plow can be used to pinpoint…

  • Statistically Left-Pawed Dogs are more Aggressive. If you watch for which paw a dog pins something to the ground with, or which forepaw it starts a stride with more often than not, you will likely have the limb-dominance down.

  • More important is tail-reading, that wag may not mean what you thought it did.

  • Feeding fish are more likely to avoid riffles and the calm pools in rivers and streams and focus on the relative calm pockets to the side of white water.
  • It would seem that calm pools would be best for preserving energy for the fish, but all fish eat other fish and they are also prey to being eaten by birds. Calm water is clearer water, pools are danger zones for fish. The pockets along white water allows enough roil to hide their presence and the current provides a continuous supply of nutrients in the form of insects washing by, or flying insects dipping low over white water.

  • Wind can also increase or decrease hearing. Sound travels on the medium of the air, upwind and downwind effects will alter the distance of what we are able to hear. There are many war accounts of ready soldiers not hearing a firefight downwind of them a hill away.
  • To hear more, reduce obstructions and get downwind of what you want to hear.

  • Chair-Behavior. When confronted with a long line of chairs, typically the first person will arrive and sit not in the furthest chair, but one chair from the end. The next will typically choose a seat at mid-distance between the seated person and the far end, while a third will opt for the midpoint between the two. Each arrival after that is gap-filling. Recall how odd you feel when someone violates that seating order and chooses to sit next to your or near you when plenty of space is available. 

  • The moon rises an approximate 50 minutes later each evening.
  • This knowledge can allow us to predict the amount of light we will have. We have full light at Day 15 with a Full Moon, consider that although Day 12 and Day 18 both are only 3 days off a Full Moon and will have equal light-Day 18 will rise later meaning we must “wait” for the light. Valuable info for planning night-time hikes or raids.

  • Lateral Inhibition is an easy effective way to dissipate minor pains. If a mob of neurons all try to respond at once they get blocked. If you stub your toe and then rub the area around it briskly, the pain will subside in the mass confusion. If you apply ice to a bruise, it will not only help with swelling, it will also transmit cold messages instead.

  • Plants can respond to the color of our clothing; just as we are moved by certain hues. Consider this, phototropism, the tendency for plants to grow towards the sun is triggered only by light coming from the blue-end of the spectrum, whereas photoperiodism which affects a plant’s timing [response to daily and seasonal cycles] only comes from the red spectrum. Where a single gorgeous flower may move us, some very good science has shown that plants respond to the color of clothing we wear. In the plant we may say that they are behaving in a mechanistic way devoid of emotion, in us we call it noticing the sublime.

  • Turn Puddles can be found within junction boxes. Turning on a path, whether a human, a cyclist, or a tractor requires more energy than simple forward momentum so there will be slight curves as the organism or mechanism pushes the soil to make the direction change. Footprints make small shifts, cyclists a bit more shift and room to shift direction, and larger vehicles more so. We are looking for the subtle “j” shape of the directional shift to tell what direction was chosen. More shifts in direction than others will show as wear and indicates the more heavily travelled direction and is a good indicator of the importance or value of what lies at the end of that trail.

  • Plants along a river bank can be an indicator of the speed of current. The more horizontal the growth the faster the current, the closer to vertical the slower. When confronting a branch in a river you can use these plant clues to determine your effort/speed/relative danger choices. 

  • The mile markers along Interstates are typically numbered from the Westernmost or Southernmost point of the state and increase as you travel Eastward or Northward. Exit numbers correspond to these East-West/South-North mileages.

  • The downwind or leeward side of sand and snow dunes is steeper and more difficult to walk on, given to collapse. This side is often called the “slip face.”
  • Desert trackers plot their paths using primarily windward sides of dunes to travel and camp in the shelter of the slip face.

  • “Wetting the Dog-Nose”-Smell is particulate and we catch scents, literally, by the adhesive mucous inside our noses. To increase scent-gathering capability Native Trackers were known to “wet the dog-nose,” that is lick an index finger and apply a thin coat of saliva to the outside of each nostril for an additional particulate adhesion. Research by the University of California-Berkley reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience that the you could indeed increase the ability of blindfolded undergraduate students tracking scents across an open field with this method. This will work against you if you have imbibed or eaten something with a strong scent itself as with coffee or garlic. We can also increase our ability for scent-tracking via the other methods in the Sensory-Hacking Section of this book.

  • Shadow Beacon: When trekking in quasi-featureless areas [plains/deserts/arctic/etc.] you can use your own shadow as a course-follower. For example, if travelling North, place the sun over your right shoulder at sunrise transitioning to over your left shoulder at sunset.

  • The wake of boats/ships will spread in the familiar transverse waves we all have seen, the spreading “V” behind boats. Lord Kelvin worked out the math that these wakes will spread to 20 degrees off of a ship’s main path. That is 20 degrees starboard/20 degrees port for a total of 40 degrees at the rear of the wake. Your extended fist is approximately 10 degrees, so you can look off of the rear of your boat and predict the 40-degree wake you will leave behind with quite good accuracy. [See the Body as Sextant section for more on-the-spot measuring hacks.]

  • Solar panels on homes and commercial structures are positioned to face south in the Northern hemisphere to maximize energy accumulation. 

  • Increasing Underwater Vision Hack #5: Moon and sunlight are both refracted to a large degree when they hit water. Refraction is greatest when the sun or moon is low in the sky: mornings and afternoons. Best underwater light conditions will be when the sun or moon is high in the sky. 

  • Airport runways are generally positioned along prevailing wind directions. If you see a large plane flying low you have a good indicator that it is pointing into the prevailing wind direction.

  • The eye in motion will only act as a scanner that will go to movement or landmark features [a big building or tree for example.] Indigenous peoples naturally use “eye-hops” [this is also the tactic taught to fighter pilots to scan for enemy aircraft.] To eye-hop, rather than pan and scan your environment, allow your eye to travel in short hops along the area you are taking in. These brief pauses allow you to focus in and filter out the tendency to scan only for movement or “landmarks.” 

  • Air pressure also affects capillary action in the soil surrounding lake, sea, and riverbanks. Low air pressure decreases capillary load. A sudden lowering in air pressure, as before a storm, means a surprising quantity of water will flood back into streams meaning possibly more intense flooding when the rain does arrive.
  • Some Native trackers were said to have predicted how bad a storm was going to be by noting the rate of creek or river rise before the storm. This lets them know how far away from river-beds to camp.

  • Swimsuit Fashion Hack: If we choose swimsuits in the blue-green spectrum they will suffer little to no color loss in water, in fact they may appear more vibrant as the other spectrums are filtered. Suits in the red, orange, and yellow spectrum will become duller.

  • Waves out run storms. The wind energy of the storm will drive waves with higher wave-length and longer period to arrive first. As the wave-period decreases the storm is approaching. Conversely, if we see dark skies but no increase in wave-period we may be seeing a squall that will quickly pass.
  • If we have clear skies and high seas, something is on the way.

  • Laminar Flow-Overnight heat radiates out of the ground and the air closest to the ground loses its heat as well. In the morning, there will be a thick cool layer of air upon the ground up to a few dozen meters thick. The sun will soon warm this up, but until then this thick laminar flow will be somewhat insulated to winds and we can mistake ground level conditions for a calm day. In the mornings, it is wise to use the Top-to-Bottom Scan, look to the clouds and tall trees for what might be true wind conditions and what to expect as the laminar flow warms.


  1. When is the book going to be available & under what title?

    1. Thanks for your interest. All that is up to the publisher and I haven't been made privy to that yet. When I am I'll post here or in our newsletter.


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