At eleven years of age as a member of the General Greene Council, Boy Scout Troop 371, later to be called Troop 271, I was a Tenderfoot looking to earn my Tracking and Stalking Merit Badge in the hopes of moving up in rank, impressing friends and family, and no longer being called a Tenderfoot, which at the time was the worst designation ever bestowed upon me.
On a Saturday morning our scoutmaster and assistant scoutmasters hauled a group of us to Greensboro Country Park where I would face my final test before earning my Tracking and Stalking Merit Badge. What was the test? I was blindfolded for a few minutes while Randy Holder was given a head start through the woods. To pass the test I had to find Randy's trail, follow his trail, and walk up and touch Randy without his seeing or hearing me before I touched him.
And it didn't help that Randy was older and more experienced than I was. As a matter of fact, that was how we did things back then.
The chase went on all morning and covered most of the park. I wish I remembered the woodland skills that were taught to us then. Several times I lost Randy's trail. Several times I found myself on someone else's trail only to discover tracks in the mud that didn't match the Converse sneakers I knew Randy to be wearing. And to be totally honest, in the end I probably found Randy's trail by accident.
But I found it and that's what counted.
Eventually I was close enough that I could see Randy. Now it was going to get really hard. If I could see Randy then all he had to do was turn his head to see me. I had to walk slower now, be more careful of where I step, try not to step on dry twigs, rustling leaves, or in my case... a rabbit.
That's right, I stepped on a rabbit, it squealed, and Randy turned around just in time to see my feet being pulled out from under me as the frightened rabbit ran away dumping me on my back!
After a short deliberation and a lot of laughter between Randy, the scoutmaster and assistant scoutmasters it was decided that any kid who could step on a rabbit before the rabbit ran away was obviously an accomplished stalker.
I got my Tracking and Stalking Merit Badge at the next meeting.