Tom Brown, Jr.

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Tom Brown, Jr. is the author of a number of fiction books with titles like The Tracker, The Vision, The Way of the Scout, and The Quest, that oddly are found in the non-fiction or autobiography sections. In these books, he tells of how as a boy in New Jersey, he and a childhood friend "Rick" (whom nobody can seem to locate to corroborate the story) were approached by an old Apache tracker named Stalking Wolf who took them under his wing as his apprentices and taught them wilderness tracking, along with loads of supernatural woo such as how to make themselves invisible, walk through walls, kill deer using their bare hands while falling out of a tree, go on shamanic journeys, permanently frostbite-proof themselves by taking a hike, change shape, spend a summer living naked in the forest foraging plants for survival, magically escape from a pack of wild dogs who think they are wolves, trick their parents into thinking they were at home doing homework when in fact they were spending weeks at a time in the New Jersey pine barrens being taught by an Apache tracker, and too much else to list here.

The story is simply too implausible to take seriously, yet it is marketed as non-fiction and is popular especially in New Age bookstores, where people desparately want to believe in tripe like this.

Some obvious questions come to mind immediately: an Apache tracker just picks two boys (white boys) out of the blue - in New Jersey of all places - to become his apprentices? How did these boys manage to spend so much time running around in the woods without their parents noticing?

The story also bears some resemblance to the 1903 children's novel Two Little Savages by Ernest Thompson Seton (who was largely responsible for all the pseudo-Indian woo in the Boy Scouts of America), which is about two boys who go into the woods to "live as Indians" for a while, learning woodcraft, tracking, and other woods skills.

Brown Jr. does run a tracking school and is a recognized go-to person in the field of tracking (although even there, he makes some claims that are not widely accepted among other trackers, such as claiming to be able to detect if a person is ill from their tracks). He is likely self-taught. Look, if you want to believe the silly Indian apprenticeship fantasies, you are more than welcome to, but the whole thing smells a little too much like Mike Warnke's "Satanism" tall tales.

Brown's tracking school has been the subject of a Penn & Teller: Bullshit! investigation as part of an episode covering survivalism and doomsday scenarios.