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To blend into your environment requires discipline in certain catagories. These catagories are Sound, Movement, Scent, and Light disciplines. These disciplines support one another in attainment of your goal and are ineffective if one or more of them are deficient. It must be an all or nothing approach for optimal results. I will only touch on the basics of each discipline to give you a better understanding of what is needed. Let's now take time and explore each one of these.
Sound- It is amazing how far one can hear in the wilderness. I have been on the side of a mountain and could hear people a 1/2 mile away talking and slamming doors at the trailhead. Being quite serves multiple purposes, it allows you to tune into sounds in your environment improving awareness as well as not disrupting the residents of the wild. Once they have been alarmed they will pass on the information to other residents, it is an interspecies communication. Prior to heading out go through your backpack and remove all that will not be necessary for that particular mission. Configure your pack so that things you would need immediately like camera, accessories and water are within reach without taking your pack off. Put your pack on and jump up and down and shake side to side to check for any sort of noises. You can subdue those sounds through taping and reconfiguring your pack like moving one item away from another so they don't bang into eachother. This is also the time to see if other items will shift as you move along. Bring in anything that sticks out which might bind you up while in the brush, make yourself streamline minimizing sound when going through the brush. Soundproofing is not only meant for your pack but also for yourself. Watch where your step being conscious of breaking branches underneath your feet. Keep conversations to a bare minimum and utilize areas that mask sounds to converse with one another, streams are very helpful.
Movement- Have you ever noticed how animals move and where you find them within the forest? Their movement is purposeful in action and location. They will move with stealth alongside of a forest edge avoiding open areas. Open areas are exposed areas giving oneself away and forested areas are safe areas allowing for concealment. Think of forested areas as islands of safety. Your movement should be fluid and purposeful as well as quiet avoiding areas of exposure. Keep to the edges of tree lines if possible instead of walking down the middle of an open space. Some animals will alarm when they detect you but will lose you if you stay still yet others will alarm when you stop and stay within their location. You can learn these different behaviors through expermentation. Every time you step into the forest should be a lesson from the residents of the wild. I have met people who have entered the wild for over twenty years but learned very little simply because they did not know how to listen and learn from their environment. This is an ongoing process and learning something new everytime one steps into the wild should be your goal.
Scent- coming into the forest smelling of Burger King, pizza or any other potent odors is very telling to the residents of the wild. This is the second purpose of fasting. Fasting will help clear not only your breath but body odor of foods eaten. If you find difficulty in fasting then you can start off with eating vegetables and salads. Getting your body used to eating vegetation will help you become accustom to eating the flora of the wild. Perfumes, scented sunscreens or bug repellents, body or laundry soaps as well as skin creams, shampoos and toilettries (toothpaste, mouthwash, TP) scents also carry very far into the wild. Choose soaps that are unscented or lightly scented if possible. The object here is to reduce the smell of all scents that are not found in the wild. It is foreign scents that get their attention. Pine needle soup or eating pieces of charred wood (charcoal) or other plants along the way, will help either mask or neutralize food scents. Now none of this is 100% effective but the idea here is to minimize as much as possible. The scents of soaps and perfumes can be distracting to the residents of the wild but not as much as food. When I go into the wild I carry very little food if any. If you do carry foods then foods with the least amount of scent is best, vegetables work best since they carry the least amount of scent unlike processed foods especially meats and sweets. Researchers in Yosemite had recorded a high number of minivans being broken into at the park. Data showed that of all of the vehicles broken into at the park minivans accounted for 26% of them. One theory why they targeted minivans is that they associated minivans with food thus sought out minivans. http://yosemiteblog.com/2009/10/13/yosemite-bears-targeting-minivans/
Items that are not part of the natural flora will grab their attention so relying on the land also increases your safety. Remember, it will take you several weeks to die of starvation so challenge yourself by taking some food but eat it only when absolutely necessary, push yourself to rely on the food items in the wild until you are confident enough not to bring any sort of nourishment with you.
Light- If you have noticed the goals for each of the other disciplines is to not attract attention, this discipline is no different but requires much more training. This discipline requires the utmost attention to detail and fasting is a requirement for facilitating a smooth and injury free training. A person who has been fasting is much more aware of their surroundings, sounds and smells. It is when you are in this awareness state that you are able to navigate throughout your surroundings. I do take a light with me in times where safety comes first but reserve it only for emergencies. A red light normally will suffice in most circumstances but only when needed. The more you rely on your night vision the better it will become. Being efficient with the other disciplines will dramatically increase your ability to become well versed at walking at night without a light. Moving this way will change your views and abilities of walking at night through the wild.
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