Fox Walking - Redwoodtwig

Brandon Smith (Redwoodtwig)

Fox walking is moving through nature using the same techniques our stone age ancestors used.  Namely being completely aware of what's going on around them and always gently placing the front foot on the ground before transferring the body weight to it.

Successful bird watchers and nature photographers have usually worked out how to walk this way, as do most special forces military types.  It's not hard to learn the mechanics, but learning how to do it well is like Tai Chi or fencing -- it takes practice, concentration and coaching.  I first learned about fox walking from Tom Brown Jr, and am pleased to report that some of his lectures are on YouTube.

The main advantage of fox walking is that you will be able to observe nature much better, since what you learn is how to merge with the natural rhythm of the forest.  If you are interested in a class or session, contact me.


Foxes in the back yard

  • When I clicked the shutter to take the first picture, they immediately scampered off. This is not fox walking. In fact is was rather noisy runnng, crashing through bushes. But as soon as they were out of sight, no more noise, no idea which way they went.

  • They didn't notice me at first and were romping around which is how I noticed them. I started taking pictures and the shutter sound decided them to get moving. Could this be the same pair of foxes I saw over on the east border berm a couple years ago?


Philosophy

Walking in beauty  is an elegant way to express the fact that we  (must) live in harmony with the world we live in.  This world we live in, both the physical earth and the building done upon it of both physical and social structures supporting human life, is undergoing many changes in these first few years of the third millennium.  

I believe that The Beauty is more important than The Good.  

That the creation or appreciation of beauty comes both logically and temporally before any possibility of doing of good deeds.  

That walking in the world is better than walking on the world.

Therefore it is important to learn how to move within nature in order to learn what nature is doing, for by doing so we can learn what beauty nature can show us.  Once we learn how to perceive natural beauty, we can learn how to be humans being reasonably in harmony with nature.

Below is the handout for the class.  Depending on how deeply you want to learn how to fox walk, you can learn it in one session, or you can return and practice until you get it right.  You will know when that happens.


Class Handout

Fox walking is walking through an area without letting anyone see or hear you.

Sight: Animals look for motion and for shapes out of the ordinary, the visual symphony.

Hearing: Background symphony vs sounds of movement

Shape: Trees and bushes don't have arms sticking out to sides.

Pace of life: Any fast movement is immediately noticed.


Basic Fox Walking

1: Step without weight, test, transfer weight slowly and evenly.

2: Pause frequently (freeze)

3: Be careful about eye contact.


Advanced:

Stalking

Weasel running

Hiding in plain sight


References:

There are a lot of videos about the subject, some perhaps more useful than others.  I've selected a few that may be helpful.

Tom Brown Jr. Tracker School is where I first learned fox walking.  Probably the best basic book that covers all the other skills that go with fox walking is his Field Guide to Wilderness Survival.   

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Being able to move through a landscape and being at one with the natural processes in that landscape is described in a number of novels.  These descriptions are often more helpful than the cut and dried approach taken in "non-fiction" books.  However, one must be careful about assigning human characteristics to animals that do not have quite the same thought processes -- sometimes it is helpful, sometimes it can lead to unrealistic expectations about animal behavior.

Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son series has several places where the hero experiences what he calls the greensong, a state in which one seems to move without effort through the most dense forests.

James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans is hard to read these days due to having been written so long ago.  But once you get into the rhythm of his words, you will find many gems to help you understand how the Native Americans moved through the landscape.  The movie doesn't show fox walking explicitly, but there is close to a feel for the greensong.

Louis L'Amour Last of the Breed is an excellent narrative that details living at the stone age level.  Tom Brown Jr. served as a resource for the background, and many passages have evocative detail on how fox walking and stalking are done.

The Lord of the Rings character Tom Bombadil is an example of a person who is completely in nature.  No details on how to fox walk, but more like a general feel for what it is like to be  a part of nature.  In fact the whole novel has many passages that can broaden one's understanding of moving through landscapes and what kinds of creatures can be found there.

The detective novels of Arthur Upfield often go into very detailed discussions of nature observation while his hero solves mysteries in the Australian outback.

The Jungle Books by Kipling -- not the Disney movie, the actual books.  

Scouting for boys by Lord Baden-Powell.  This was the original boy scout manual and unlike most later boy scout manuals the original goes into a lot of detail on primitive camping, tracking, nature observation, survival and such things.  

Wild animals I have known by Ernest Thompson Seton was first published in 1898 and is available online at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3031  I have seen the behavior of rabbits and crows the way he describes them.  Nothing about fox-walking itself, but a lot about how animals move and how they observe and interact with their world.