What would you do if you found yourself running for your life and the enemy was chasing you with trained track dogs?
How to Evade the Track Dog Press Play
The thought of being tracked by trained track dog(s) may seem like a scary thought. However, if you know what you're doing, it is actually fairly easy to lose them.
Track Dogs and Horse Manure
I had just completed a live covert operation that ended with a bang... literally. I had made it out of their perimeter and was now on the outskirts of their land. It was the dead of night and they were actively searching for me.
Luckily there was a pasture with horses nearby. I quickly disguised my scent by rolling in manure and held very still. All the while praying that I didn't get stepped on by a horse.
Although it was nerve wracking, it was actually a good thing that the horses did not indicate that I was there.
A man armed with a shotgun sent out his two dogs. One got about 10 to 15 feet from me, smelling. Then turned and left. At that point, the people searching for me figured that the dogs were just interested in the horses.
The handler called his dogs to him and turned his back to me. I took the opportunity to risk a 100 yard dash, dove through the hot wire and into a ditch. It was smooth sailing from there.
The Poncho - Scent Masking
There was a bloodhound on my heels. I was running rabbit for law enforcement so that they could work their track dogs.
I was instructed to run 300 yards around a track and hide in the edge of the woods.
At the end of the running track it started to rain, so I pulled on my poncho. After putting it on I walked 25 yards into the woods as instructed and sat down.
I sat there for almost an hour. I watched as the handler and his bloodhound walked back and forth 2 or 3 times before the handler called me on the phone, asking for where I was.
I responded that I was siting in the woods looking at him. He still didn't see me until I stood up.
He asked me what I had done, and I told him about the poncho. I was told that I had just put my entire scent in a zip-lock bag. That was why the dog couldn't find me when I walked off of the trail.
I was running rabbit for another bloodhound. I ran straight downhill to the swamp, then climbed a tree to better see the layout of the swamp. I had been told not to cross it and I wanted to make sure I knew how it ran.
After I climbed down the tree, I followed the swamp for a little longer. I then turned and ran up hill for about 100 yards and decided I would mess with the handler by running in a tight circle till it was about 50 yards in diameter. (Little did I know what I was doing was actually was called scent massing.)
I then ran another 100 yards and scent massed again. This time I set up on the top of the hill and waited to "ambush" the tracker (per my instructions).
After about 2 hours of waiting, I gave up and went to find the handler to see why they hadn't found me yet.
The handler was upset that I didn't have a radio on me and informed me that he had long given up and cussed me out for going across the swamp.
Apparently, climbing the tree had drifted my scent across the swamp. So the track dog took him across the swamp. Halfway over, the track dog lost my scent and turned around.
When they came to the spot where I had massed my scent, the track dog simply gave up and sat down.
Note: These were not ordinary track dogs. They were purebred bloodhounds that were trained to find people. Per their NC state qualification requirement, each handler and dog had to complete a 26 mile track off of an old scent.
Later on in SERE school I learned that this was actually a tactic used to throw track dogs off the trail. When you can't mask your scent, then just mass it.
Being able to evade an enemy when they are professionals and have track dogs is something to think about if you've been unjustly deemed a terrorist. Which is starting to happen alarmingly more. (Think of the parents that are speaking out at their schools.)