November 16, 2012
Book Review: "The Comprehensive Guide to Tracking"
By David E. Petzal
This remarkable book is the work of a South African game ranger who learned the art and science of tracking from two Shangaan game rangers. At this point, if you’ve been to Africa, you’d know I’m writing about men whose ability to follow anything anywhere borders on the weird. If you haven’t been to Africa, I can tell you that at least once on any safari, you’ll see a tracker do something that’s clearly impossible. And they do it all the time.
What Cleve Cheney does in this profusely illustrated 350-page book is show you how they do it.
His book is about tracking African game, but probably 90 percent of the information in it is transferable to anywhere that you want to trail something (or someone, because there’s a chapter on following people). What Mr. Cheney requires of you is that you re-learn how to see, smell, hear, think, and feel. He shows you the science of tracking, and it is, in large part, a science. The rest is an art, acquired only after years of working at it. He explores the nearly-ignored ability to concentrate for long periods of time, and shows you how to do better at it.
Normally, I abhor press releases, but the one that came with this volume sums up the book perfectly, so I’ll take the liberty of quoting it:
“This fascinating and useful book—by far the best on the subject—will turn a neophyte into a person with a basic understanding of tracking…. For those who want to learn more than the basics, this book is a treasure trove of tracking information, insights, methods, and knowledge…Nothing is left uncovered.”
I can’t put it any better than that.
The book is $34.95 softcover, $49.95 hardcover, from safaripress.com; 714-894-9080