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Scenting and Tracking are fundamental warrior skills. Without the ability to track predator and prey based on scent no cat is fit to bear the rank of warrior. A mentor should take time to ensure their apprentice has a good foundation in these skills.
Scenting is the art of finding other creatures, or the trails left by them, via the odors left behind. An apprentice must learn how to utilize its sense of smell properly, as it is one of the most powerful and versatile tools it possesses. Their noses will be used throughout life to smell prey, other cats, and danger, among other things.
Scenting is the staple of hunting. It allows a cat to detect the presence and help pinpoint the location of any of the possible small animals cats hunt. Many apprentices will be familiar with at least some of the general scents of prey, having eaten them as kits. However, apprenticeship requires them to recognize much more specific scents, as opposed to the jumbled-up smells of the fresh-kill pile. Showing an apprentice freshly-caught prey would help reinforce what they already know.
Another important thing apprentices must be able to recognize by scent are predators. Being able to detect if one is nearby or has been recently may make the difference between life and death for the apprentice itself (by being able to avoid the predator in question) and other members of their Clan (by alerting the Clan so a dangerous predator may be driven off). Given the nature of these animals, there are few reliable methods of teaching apprentices their scents . Showing the apprentice the predators themselves is generally accepted as much too dangerous for apprentices in general, let alone beginners. Special care should be taken during the winter, when prey will be scarce and hungry predators may be more bold about attacking prey that will put up a fight.
However, there are two generally safe methods:
- Show the apprentice remains from a predator, one of the most effective being droppings.
- Take an apprentice to an uninhabited den previously inhabited by a predator.
As a supplement for their field medicine training, apprentices should learn to recognize herbs by their smell as well as sight, to quickly pinpoint certain herbs in an emergency.
Enemy Clans and Twolegs
The last thing that an apprentice should be able to identify are members of enemy Clans and Twolegs, something that is usually taught by showing the apprentice scents of each that hang around borders, or places that Twolegs tend to frequent, such as Twoleg paths or borders near Twolegplaces.
Tracking is the art of following the physical trail left behind by other creatures.