Being stealthy involves a lot more than tiptoeing through the tulips and keeping your voice down. If you want to maximize your chances of avoiding detection and getting from point A to B unnoticed, it is essential that you become as invisible as possible. However, being invisible involves making good choices and being mindful of common mistakes that can attract unwanted attention. Let’s look at some common mistakes that end up becoming dead giveaways with respect to revealing our location, presence or direction of travel.
The presence of smoke or fire is by far one of the most attention-getting signals that indicate the presence of people nearby. Both can be visible for miles. Smoke is very easy to detect during the daytime whereas fire is very easy to spot in the dark. Smoke from a fire is also easy to detect in the air, and as long as someone knows what direction the wind is blowing, it won’t be hard to track down the source. Avoid starting fires at all costs during the day time if you are in an area that can be seen from a distance, and consider using a dakota fire at night to mask the presence of flames.
Some smells are easier to detect than others, but there are some obvious ones to avoid emitting in order to maximize your stealth capability. Avoid wearing perfumes, cooking fragrant foods or engaging in activities that will produce smells that stand out from the surrounding area. Keep in mind that odors travel with the wind as well, and it’s important that you situate yourself downwind of potential trackers before releasing any odors into the air.
Most of us have experienced the annoyance of a phone going off in the wrong place at the wrong time. Forgetting to turn off the ringer on your phone in Church, class or during a meeting is embarrassing. Doing so in a survival situation can be a life-threatening mistake. Make sure that your phone is off and that there is no chance that your ringtone will give away your position.
It is very easy for even the most amateur tracker to detect obvious movement if they are staking out a particular area. If you need to move, make sure that you are blending in with the background as perfectly as possible. Take small steps, move carefully and try to hide behind trees, terrain or buildings in order to mask your presence. It only takes one or two missteps to attract unwanted attention and reveal your current location as well as direction of travel.
Footprints and Left-Behind Items
Footprints are very easy to track, and you need to be very careful to walk on surfaces that will not leave indentations as you move around. Make sure that your shoes or boots are dry and free from mud when walking on concrete or grass. Don’t make tracks in the snow over exposed ground and avoid disturbing foliage or brush as you move along. Any one of these mistakes can reveal your presence and attract unwanted attention.
Leaving garbage, personal effects or any other signs of human activity is also a dead giveaway. It is essential that you pack your belongings and take them with you or bury or hide them as you move from one place to the next. Even some litter from food wrappers or other little “bread crumbs” can be enough to alert someone to your movements.
If you want to blend in with the terrain and avoid standing out, then you need to dress the part. One of the most important reasons that people wear bright clothing while hunting is so that other hunters can see them in order to prevent accidental shootings. Wearing inappropriate or bright clothing, even in thick forests can cause you to stick out like a sore thumb. Do whatever it takes to blend into the background in order to avoid detection as much as possible.
One other common way that people get caught is by accidentally making subtle noises more than once. This can be anything from a cough or sneeze to an accidental moan or talking too loud. Stepping on twigs, shuffling through leaves or the sound of footsteps while walking are other common mistakes that people unintentionally make. Be extremely careful, especially in quiet and deserted areas to avoid making any unnecessary noise. You will be amazed at how easy it is to track someone down simply by listening for subtle sounds.
It’s important that you measure every step, breath and movement carefully as you try to avoid being detected. Move in short bursts over short distances. Stop, think and assess your next move before continuing forward. Be patient, wait for the right time and never rush. One careless mistake is all that it takes to get discovered, and this is especially true if people are actively searching for you. Take each step as though your life depends on it, and avoid these and other careless mistakes at all costs.