Tag Archives: Tactical tracking

Tracking Fugitives…

Team 5 at FinEx.JPG

My good friend, mentor, and tactical tracking instructor has had a lot of success lately with the teams he has been training, so I asked if he wanted to do a guest blog here to promo his services and new book. If he is not out chasing bears or deer, he is teaching America’s finest to track down those that do us harm. What follows are the wise words of Mike Hull – BPO

_DSC8239 (1).jpg

What do the Beltway Snipers, the Pennsylvania Trooper Murder (Frein case), the recent New York prison escapees and the recent killing of Officer Lloyd Reed in Pennsylvania, all have in common?

Visual tracking played a large role in the investigation and/or capture of the criminals involved.

What did all of the officers who did the tracking have in common?

They all attended my tactical tracking classes.

This is just a sample of hundreds of cases where tracking and foot impression evidence is being utilized successfully across the country. So important and valuable that Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and, next year, New York Conservation Police, established in-house instructors and training for their officers.

As a retired Game Warden with over 40 years of Law Enforcement related experience it is with great pleasure that I see the value and use of visual tracking being recognized and used.  It was in the middle of my LE career that I started pursuing structured tracking training and recognized the overlooked value of this science, yes it is a science.  Everything you operate from can be learned and documented by any competent officer.

My interests and pursuits have taken me way past my wildest imagination at the time.  I retired from full time LE in 2008 and started teaching tracking full time (still maintain my LE certifications). Having partnered with The Scott-Donelan Tracking School and Natural Awareness Tracking School I have been able to experience and learn just how broad the value of tracking is for multiple purposes such as Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, intelligence gathering, finding Improvised Explosive Devices, animal research and escape and evasion.

I have watched my training expand from boy scouts to Special Forces and everything in between.  I have listened to many excited officers contacting me after a case they had made using tracking and there is always another common denominator between them, your training gave me the confidence to continue on the trail.

After years of procrastinating I finally finished my book on tracking.  This book gives a brief history of me and how I learned this scientific skill set; it is focused on the use and value of tracking in law enforcement and laced with short case experiences. I finish it off with more technical points and a vocabulary for those interested in learning this skill.  I tried to make an interesting balance between an interesting read and a learning manual for all tracking practitioners.

My book is titled “Man Tracking in Law Enforcement” and can be purchased through Amazon or by contacting me personally and paying ($25 includes postage in US) through Pay Pal at mikehullvitale@gmail.com


Should you or your agency want training, email me at mikehull@vitalellc.com or call 434 996 3639.


Knox Tactical – Finally…


Two weeks ago, after visiting every gun and surplus store in my wife’s Florida hometown, I lamented to my wife:

“I just wish there was a gun or surplus store that actually had good gear. It is like they don’t even use this stuff. If they did, they would know it was crap”

Fast forward to today and everything changed. Knoxville Tactical on 7609 Blueberry Rd is that “good gear” store.

When an early birthday check arrived, I call up my shooting buddy to see if he could escape from work and daddy duties to quench my thirst for a mag pouch I had been eyeing on the internet. With four women in the house, three of them under the age of two, it didn’t take much convincing.

The funny thing nowadays is that guns don’t really excite me as much as good support gear. I have had all the “cool” toys at work, but it is rare to find a store that you can actually get your hands on quality accessories . Usually, I am relegated to late night sessions perusing SKD Tactical, but now I am going to have to find excuses to drive over to north Knoxville. Same internet price on the mag pouch, but I got to handle it and try it out with my mag.

In Florida, I walked into a police supply store and asked..

“Do you have any HSGI Taco pouches for rifle mags”

“Is that a brand?” was the confused clerks reply

Contrast that to Knox Tactical, where I walked into a wall of them first thing..


If you haven’t seen a HSGI Taco pouch, they are the ticket if you have multiple caliber guns.

Here is the pouch with an AK mag..

unnamed (11)

Here is it with an AR mag..

unnamed (12)

And here is the pouch with a Gunsite Scout mag..

unnamed (13)

“One mag pouch to rule them all” should be in their marketing plan!! You can have one plate carrier or chest rig set up with them and run different weapon systems. That solves a lot of headaches if you are like me and bounce between calibers.

Knox Tactical also has THE best selection of medical gear that I have ever seen in a brick and mortar store. Chinook Medical was my online supplier for the past fifteen years, but now I can support a local business that has a great selection for blow out kits or IFAKs.


For less than the price of lunch, you can set your car, workplace, home, or backpack up with the gear to handle  vehicle accidents or any other trauma. There are no excuses not to stock up. “Watching someone you love die, sucks!”, was my friend’s sober reminder when he pushed medical skills and gear.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6b1v9lcmG0



There is a “Survival” section with a variety of firestarting gear and some emergency food..


Clothes, packs, pouches and more..


A large selection of Bravo Company products, Magpul, and of course guns..



I have been told that I am hard to shop for and it is hard to find stuff on my wish list. Knox Tactical had five out of seven items right there! Maybe six, but I forgot to check the flashlight case.

Oh well, gives me an excuse to go back soon..

Edited to add: I got some great prices on used gear, if you want to help finance my next trip. first two safarilands SLS are for 229 w/o rails. The other 2 are for 229R, top right ALS only, and bottom right SLS with QLS, two platforms and extra mount.  Mag pouches for Glocks. Message me if interested.

IMG_0424 (1)

Next Tracking Workshop – June 14


Great day tracking yesterday and we picked June 14th as the next workshop date. With a little guidance, two new trackers worked an evidence recovery track that was 4 hours old. Great job B.R. and Seth. See you in two months.

Click here for more info on the next tracking workshop:  http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/tracking.html

Catch me if you can…


And they did… It was the final exercise, and I thought I was home free. During a simulated manhunt, myself and three other instructors set out from the vehicles on a 3500 acre property in the heart of Kentucky. A couple hours later, they had caught two of my gang. Rob Spieden, http://www.trackingschool.com,  and I were the last two. We had stuck together up until this point, but with the teams now focused on picking up where we had given them the slip, we planned on splitting up and I would slip back behind them and check the security on the command center.

I wished Rob good luck, and slipped through the the tall weeds to the edge of a clearing. I glassed the field edges looking for any security teams and felt at ease watching a flock of turkeys enter the woods where I was heading. Trying to stay out of the briars, I was five steps into cutting the corner of the field when I was challenged by five M4 wielding SWAT members in full predator mode.

Like any good prey, I ran like hell. I was sure that with my headstart and the downhill slope I was going to leave them in the dust, but little did I know that the SRT team had picked up my trail and I was sandwiched between them. My 300 hundred yard dash to freedom came to a end as I heard the footsteps crashing behind me. Give these meat-eaters an excuse to tackle you and they gladly will, so I did what any fugitive with half a brain would do and dove to the ground just in time to avoid getting crushed.

I had just spent the week helping Mike Hull,  owner/operator of VITALE LLC and an affiliate of the Scott-Donelan Tracking School, teach a Level II Tactical Tracking class to the Kentucky State Police SRT Team and the Frankfort PD SWAT team. Level II class picks up where the Level I leaves off, focusing on command and control, land navigation, rural surveillance, IED detection and coordinating multiple teams.

An outstanding class with a some of Kentucky’s finest. Check out Mike’s website to schedule training:  http://www.vitalellc.com/

On a side note, while on the run, I did eat some ground cherries, collect some dogbane for cordage, milkweed pods for seeding my area, a mulberry branch, horseweed stems, cedar bark (all for friction fire), some burdock seeds, and even spied some shaggy manes. All in a good day’s work of being a “fugitive”.



Brought to you by http://bigpigoutdoors.net/  – Your source for high quality instruction in practical bushcraft, wilderness survival, and outdoor living skills