By Robert Plain, Ashland Daily Tidings
Photos by Orville Hector | Ashland Daily Tidings

bow drillScott said there will be classes for all sorts of skill levels and ages. From a family class that some of the younger students could participate in with their parents, to a 21-day wilderness expedition in which some of the older students can really test their mettle.

“We don’t like to teach directly,” Scott said, as he explained how to create a fire with no match or lighter. “Rather than force feeding them what we want them to learn, we try to inspire them to want to learn. We’re not teaching anybody anything. We’re trying to make an area where people can teach themselves.”

He said learning to create fire without modern man’s advantages is just one of the many skills students will learn at Coyote Tracks West.

“When that first kid makes a fire this energy goes through them that is unmistakable,” Scott said. “They immediately realize that connection that runs through all things. It’s an instant reconnection with the natural world around them.”

Scott said the instructors don’t like to refer to the Coyote Tracks West Program as either camp or school. “It’s an experience,” he said.

There will be several programs offered this summer in Ashland through the Coyote Tracks West program. Programs for children 7 to 12 require a parent or guardian to be present. Teens do not require adult supervision. Programs will run throughout the summer. For more information, call (541) 482-0513 or look on the Web at

Staff writer Robert Plain can be reached at 482-3456 x 3040 or

bow drill

Gordon Scott, left, Destarte Scott, right, uses the bow drill to create ash caused by friction Saturday May 7, 2005 photo by Orville Hector

Coyote Trails School of Nature: dba Coyote Tracks West. Tom Brown is the world’s foremost tracker. He has worked with all kinds of enforcement agencies in helping to find people who have been lost in the woods or hiding from the law. He runs the largest tracking school in the nation and has authored 16 books on the subject of wilderness survival and know-how.

He was taught these time-honored skills of paying close attention to the natural world in order to better understand what is happening in it by an Apache elder named Stalking Wolf.

Starting this summer, area children and teens will be able to join in this lineage that began with the ancient teachings of the Apache shamans, continued through Brown and will soon be taught in Ashland by some of Brown’s ex-students.
Bow drills are a traditional way to start a fire without the aid of matches or a lighter.

Coyote Tracks West is a version – for children and young adults – of the Tracker School that Brown operates in New Jersey.

The program, which will be open to youths between the ages of 7 and 17 and begins June 19 at the Earth Teach Park on Dead Indian Memorial Road, will be run by two students of Brown himself.

The program “exposes children and teens to the wilderness through primitive living skills, tracking, awareness, nature study, storytelling and performance,” reads the company’s brochure.

“One of the primary goals of Coyote Tracks West is to rekindle kids’ relationships with the Earth that many of us lose in our childhoods,” Gordon Scott said. Scott, an Ashlander, is not only a former student of Brown’s but has also used his tracking skills when he was a member of the Navy SEALS. “One of the things missing from our society is a right of passage. It used to be a teenager was given a Vision Quest. Imagine the confidence it instills in a kid knows they could survive in the woods. It’s about passing on that vision, really.”