avoid detection - move slowly

Avoid Detection By Moving SLOWLY

avoid detection - move slowly

While moving, and regardless of where, how, or why you’re in a situation to avoid detection: Short of being invisible, you need to move SLOWLY to avoid detection.

We humans (and most animals) have a very good ability to detect movement.
It’s built in to our core survival instincts.
Even in our peripheral vision.

Slow movement however is much more difficult to notice.

A recent comment here on MSB regarding avoiding detection:

“We’ll just use a whitetail for an example, I can spot a deer that’s moving at a trot down the trail for several hundred yards if terrain permits.”

“That same deer sneaking along the trail in the edge of the woods is much more difficult to see.”

“I am much more comfortable sneaking, stopping, looking and listening. If need be, just hide and wait.”

Here’s one of my own examples:

While sitting here inside the house working on my laptop, I have a view looking out at some of our property. There are times when I sense movement out there even while not looking out the windows.

After sensing something in my peripheral vision and when I look outside, there’s usually something out there. One form or another of wildlife. The point is, I wouldn’t have noticed at all if it was moving slowly.

It’s the speed of movement rising above a certain threshold that triggers the mind. And that threshold depends on the environment that you’re in.


Other factors to Avoid Detection

Move with irregular speed
– slow, slower, slow, stop, etc..

Blending in with your surroundings
– colors, clothing
– shapes, environment
– camouflage
– lighting, shadows
– background, silhouette avoidance

Quieter than background noise
– walking, stepping
– equipment, gear
– communicating, talking

Additional resources:
12 Tips For Movement During Evasion
10 Tips To Camouflage Movements And Evasion
Camouflage And Blend With Environment


Avoid Detection while on Security Detail

Why is this subject potentially important? Well, regarding preparedness for a potentially quite disruptive time following societal collapse, one’s security will become a top priority.

Moving slowly and other factors to avoid detection are advantageous not only while hunting (for example) but also important while considering perimeter security patrol.

While on patrol, an objective will be to detect others.
It will be important however to avoid detection yourself!

That said, there may be situations when it’s advantageous to run, to get off the X.

Just bear in mind that “slow” is difficult to notice (if you haven’t been detected yet), all other things considered…


  1. I understand what you are saying. We have acquired livestock- a family of deer. If they are standing still or lying under the tree in the middle of our drive, it is hard to see them. They don’t move fast unless they are scared.
    Also the older I get, the easier it is to move slow!

    1. Remember with every step you are in a new woods. You can see behind a tree now but one step and you can see in front of that same tree and not behind it.

  2. Good reminder. This is probably going to get put on the list to be practiced with the rest of the survival skills. Slow and steady wins the race.

  3. Another good article Ken, Thanks

    Move with irregular speed;
    ‘If/When’, there usually will/should be no reason to be in a hurry (hopefully) moving as you described is a lot harder than most will realize, taking 2 hours to go 400 yards and being stealth about it will be challenging at least. We now live in a world of Hurry Hurry Hurry, doing 85 in a 45MPH zone (metaphor) is the norm these days. Slowing down and stopping might be more of a challenge than most realize, try it when you have a little time, take an hour to move from the Garden to the House.

    Blending in with your surroundings;
    Hiding in plain sight, as your article indicated, non-movement is difficult to see, and blending in with your surroundings is another key. I have to chuckle at the local yokels in their “camo” hunting and ‘Survivalist’ gear that is 15 shades off color from the surrounding area. FYI, dark greed camo in the Desert South-West is not a good idea. Actually saw a dude wearing a Jungle Green Ghillie Suit in a foot of snow. Yeah he was hard to spot… HAHAHAH

    Quieter than background noise;
    When it’s quiet, and I do mean really really quiet the human ear can literally hear an Owl swoop by at 2-300 feet.
    Can one control their breathing so it’s irregular/silent? Do your boots make a squeak when you walk? How about your Knees, do they “pop” a little when you walk anymore? How about hand signals and simple movement of the head to communicate rather than “Comm’s”?
    And God help you if you have to sneeze.

    Has anyone ever watched a crowd of people in let’s say a Mall or Wally-World? Ever notice the people moving about and shopping, what’s interesting is the ones that are just ‘standing around’ and not moving are the ones that stand out. Point is, if you’re the “Gray Man” and just standing and not moving ‘may’ also make you a target, if the crowd is moving, also be moving.

    PS; In summer we have a lot of Humming Birds here, the ‘locals’ makes it a challenge to have one land on your hand. If your really good, maybe 2 or 3 will land, but the slightest move and …….

    1. I highly doubt you can hear an owl swoop at 2-300 feet. I see owls all the time where I live and other than them hooting, I’ve never heard them.

        1. – I’ve heard them many times. Most of ours don’t fly more than about 100 feet up, though.
          – Papa S.

        2. Papa Smurf
          My apologizes, my wording was not as correct as it should have been, 2-300 feet ‘distance’, they usually sit atop a 30 to 35 foot Power Pole and with just a few flaps of the wings come by from 2-3oo feet away. My mistake. wording should have been “from” not “at”.

      1. JD,NRP, Papa Smurf,
        Don’t know as I’ve heard he sound of an owl’s wings at 2-300 ft, but I do know (and I’ve experienced on more than one occasion) if you’ve ever walked under a low hanging limb in the woods and had an owl bail off it’s perch on that limb above your head…….well, it’s entirely possible you will soil your panties.

    2. There’s a reason, in the old time radio shows, detectives were called “gumshoes.” People standing around in a store — More than once I’ve mentioned to some store clerk, “either that person over there is store security or a shop lifter…”

    3. NRP, when I was in the Army in Alaska on the winter exercises we would get away from camp, lay on our backs in the snow and you could hear the Northern Lights hiss, pop and snap in the sky. On one occasion we detected an “enemy” scouting force. There were 3 of us no moon just stars and the northern lights. They got within 20 feet of us and we rose out of the snow and scared the crap out of them. Oh to be young again.

      1. OldAlaskan:
        Tjat would be soooooo cool to experiance the Northern Lights like that….. now ya have me adding that to the Bucket List.

        1. Northern Lights trip planned to Iceland :D
          Anybody want to go with?

        2. That sounds so cool, i look at the picture galleries on the space weather website all the time, just awesome

  4. Another reason to move slow is to avoid injury and fatigue. Especially if you are moving through heavily wooded areas. Nothing like getting poked in the eye by branch or tripping up on exposed roots and twisting your ankle. Been there done that as a kid. You can walk a lot further than you can run. Especially if you are not getting enough calories. Burning out is never a good idea in a survival situation.

  5. I will risk being called a heretic, but I’ve never put an emphasis on camouflage clothing. Stealthy movement (slow, deliberate) coupled with apparel that does not clash with the background works for me. Clothing that is dull, non-reflective and in shades of tan and gray, with solid colors being ok. My favorite deer stalking outfit is nothing more than the cheap Fruit of the Loom sweat pants and top in light gray, a light face net, and brown cotton gloves. I regularly am able to approach feeding deer (natural browsing, not over bait) within a few feet. Like the article says, slow and quiet is the secret. Yes, I have camo, they darn near give it away after deer season at Wally World, and it’s ok if you wash it several times using non-brightening detergents to take the reflective properties away. Or, you can do what I do, that is bury your outfits in the ground and leave them for several days, dig them up and spray the majority of dirt off with a garden hose before running them through a rinse cycle in your washer using plain water, hang outside to air dry.

    1. Dennis
      Perhaps most camo clothing is sold for the same reasons people buy off-road vehicles.

      1. A hint – most do not hunt or go off-road ever. Just wanabe warriors – think it looks cool.

        1. – Used to call those “weak-end” warriors. Seriouslythough, you do need to do something to kill the shine from your face; that is the most common giveaway on finding camo’d folks.
          – Papa S.

        2. – And avoid looking directly at things- Watch from the side of your eyes, especially up close.
          – Papa

        3. Papa Smurf
          I think that is a very good suggestion to avoid “looking directly”. So often I have heard someone say “I could FEEL someone/something looking at me”…Whether humans truly can, is up for debate, but it may be some type of holdover fr prehistoric times.

    2. Dennis
      Ain’t it amazin how the deer react when you live with em? You don’t get to see that unless you spend a lot of time there. I have seen some very interestin sights concernin Mother Nature. Fascinatin to me to see stuff that for me really is once in a lifetime. I gain a great deal of pleasure from that kind of stuff..

      Now speakin solely for myself, If we are talkin about dealin with humans, I would prefer camo. I can go hide in the woods in camo and a lotta people won’t see me till they trip over me……on the other hand, I could sit there with a flashin red lite on my head and a fair number will still trip over me………You know the drill well, just tryin to mention somethin others might not have thought of.

  6. If things are still, you’re still. If things are moving, you move. A log in a river is noticeable even if it’s moving because the surface doesn’t move. It’s different from its surroundings. I’ve gotten within a few feet of birds, and “stalked” friends through a mall, but I lack the patience to stand still for a long time so the birds eventually see me. The friends…not so much. :)

  7. Yes to comments – slow, neutral colors, quiet, no unnatural scent, down wind if possible …. and here in wooded country, move from cover to cover. I like to keep (what I call) the second row of trees between me and any quarry. At that second row of tree depth, you can just see enough through the evergreen branches while making any movements harder to see.

    1. The low slow crawl also works – but in some types of country; cactus, ants, prickly bushes, ticks, …. it can be every unpleasant unless your life depends on that method of evasion.

        1. Dennis
          See the snail. It eventually gets across the road unless there is a crunch.

  8. If you really wanna see how well you’re doin in your slow stalk endeavor, find yourself an animal, doesn’t matter what kind, squirrel, rabbit, deer, anything will do. Attempt to close the distance between yourself and the “target” animal. The animal is always watchin for danger, so he is already playin the game. See how close you can get. When practicin, be sure you take the wind out of the equation, the animal is already ahead without it., Have somebody hide and see if you can pick up on the odd shape. You must mask the telltale human shape. Patience is a virtue.

    1. Animals live this game. Want to know if you’ve got the wind advantage on a deer you’ve spotted? What direction is he looking? Majority of the time they will face away from the wind unless they’ve already “winded” you. Otherwise, they depend on their nose to cover what may come from behind them. In other words they look for what they can’t smell.

      1. Interesting observation. I assumed they would do that because they don’t want the wind in their face.

      2. When deer catch a scent or hear something they all look in the same direction – more eyes on. When one alarms, they all move instantly – not like rubber neck people that stand around to take pictures.

    2. When you get to the point you can slip up on a groundhog or a crow, you get your certificate….hahaha…….My granny told me a thousand times, if you put salt on a bird’s tail you can catch it. I bet granny was right. I remember me and her yappin about that back and forth. I could not understand for the life of me how that salt was gonna disable that bird..I wasn’t old enough to get the bigger picture ..I bet that ole gal had a lotta fun with that.

      1. My elders always told me that too. Took me a few years to figure it out.

      1. Looks like he is standing sideways with his arms crossed in front of him.

        1. I got it now, just a camo painted face. about 1/4 of the way up on the right of the picture.

        2. I think the guy I am seeing on the top must be hunting the face you’re talking about. Looks like he may be cradling a rifle in his crossed arms. Man, the eyes can play tricks. I’ll concede though, your picture so you’d know., LOL.

    1. Got him, but I cheated…. HAHAHA
      Gata know how to also cheat when it comes to “stuff”.
      aka no rules when TSHTF.

      1. That’s because I posted this before and you went back and looked! We’ll see if someone else finds him.

        Hint: Look for the face.

        1. Ken, It’s your puzzle, so you know the answer. Yes, I see the face looking up from under the leaves, but if I were in those woods looking at the same perspective, my attention would be focused on the form near the top of the picture obscuring the base of the tree directly above the top center rock in the pile in the foreground, at the beginning of the brush line. Those two dark colored short horizontal line are completely abnormal to the surroundings and coupled with obscuring of the base of the tree sure looks like a human standing there, complete with the head.

      2. I wouldn’t wanna be caught cheatin when the s hits the proverbial fan. I imagine the penalty will be more severe than now. You better brush up on your skills.

        1. wood56gas;
          you are probably right, but in my defense Ken did not say ‘how’ to “Find the man in the picture:”
          Plus working the electronics is a huge part of the world we now know….. somewhat no difference than what NH Michael suggested
          “Fire up the FLIR!!”
          But you are absolutely correct.

    2. I’m not sure I’m seeing a man, but it looks like a bicycle in the upper right corner.

    3. A possible man shape all the way in top left corner on the right side of the tree. Or there is a grey color on right of rocks between the mound of leaves. Resembles a cuff? I do not see that shape anywhere else. Neat photo. Good camo.

    4. looks like a black face underneath and to the right of the rocks. Can only see their left eye.

    5. I was looking for a whole man, too. Now I see the face on the far right.

    6. Middle right hand side-middle of photo looks he is part of the rock formation.

      1. Ken
        Did not read the comments just looked at the photo and dowsed it …am I correct????

        1. So Cal Gal
          Thank you for the reply. That is where I picked up the entire body not just the face itself. Going for the gusto 🤗
          Hope you are having a better day…

        2. AC,
          I’m working on it, hope you & ACDH are doing well. How’s DH doing with vision?

        3. So Cal Gal
          His left eye is now 20-30 and he found the face. Before surgery he would not have been able to see eyes at all. Great ghille suit!

    7. my husband found it even when I knew where it was and he didn’t. Of course I cheated and read the comments and he still had to point it out to me! Now that I see it, it looks creepy!

  9. I’d say top left in the back brush to the right of the tree trunk, it looks like a unnatural shape sort of.

  10. I thought we were looking for the whole man, but it’s just the face. Helps to know what you’re looking for.

  11. I try to practice being stealthy. Many times, in the middle of the night when I awaken for no reason, I try to sneak to the bathroom without turning any lights on. Although I’m familiar with the terrain, there’s always the possibility of unknown obstacles, so I’m usually moving fairly slow. More so on the return trip. I need more practice because invariably, sometime during the trip, I hear either a buck snort or a barking spider, so chances are my movement is not going unnoticed.

    CD in Oklahoma

    1. CD in Oklahoma;
      Talk about ‘avoiding detection’ and the nightly “trip” try it with a 120# Black Lab, that loves to sleep in the middle the path….. :-)

      1. I have the same problem. Our big lab likes to lay right in the bathroom doorway. Tripped over and stepped on him more times than I can count.

        1. Yeah- I know about dogs laying in the way. My girl ( now passed on) snuck up and was laying right at my feet, she knew food was a possibility, I didn’t notice. Tripped over her and broke my kneecap into a whole bunch of pieces. Have the long scar that usually goes with a knee replacement.

      2. NRP,
        Got no issues with Jake at night….white lab. Besides, I’ve spent many years walking around in the dark working underground. Now that my friend is dark! Walking around the house and farm in the dark no issues, except I occasionally startle the DH.
        Always close one eye for a few minutes, then try the dark, you will be amazed at what you can now see.

    1. Several of you got it now. Right side, 1/4 the way up there’s a face staring at you in the leaves. Kinda spooky…

      When doing this drill, I find it interesting how when I challenge to “find the man”, it automatically puts people’s mindset into finding the outline of an entire man.

      Plus, people start “seeing things” ;)

      It’s a great lesson to avoid putting your mind in a box.

      1. Ken;
        Have you seen the one that is about the same thing, there ends up being something like 7 or 8 guys there?
        Talk about training and the “Hide” factor, amazing.

      2. Wow I have to admit even with your telling me I cannot see the face. Guess I better get that FLIR to supplement my dog. She is good at pointing but I would hate to send her out to flush out that face.

      3. Finely I see that face. My only saving grace from Sneaky Pete’s is I pay attention to well trained dogs and with Wolf Ears I can hear someone breathing over 50 yards away. Best thing about Wolf Ears is they auto protect when you fire your rifle.

  12. – Top left, behind the rocks about 20 feet. Hard to tell from a static picture. Tell him good job, anyway. I’ve. had hunters walk right up to and by me, in a green plaid shirt and brown jeans, and never see me. I have also petted more than a few does just to see their reaction. Ever see a fox unable to decide which way to run? He tried every way except straight up and inside out. (Foxes I don’t shoot, we have a few, but they haven’t been any problem.)
    – Papa S.

  13. The problem with looking for a face is our brains are wired to see faces wherever possible, for instance, I see one right behind the pile of rocks.

    I’m partially red/green color blind, which helps considerably seeing movement. Color blind people aren’t distracted by all the different tones in a woods or jungle. In Vietnam a guy in our platoon was totally color blind, when he hit the ground, so did everyone else.

  14. Thanks for the interesting thread Ken.
    It’s kind of an offshoot of what you are writing about here, but one of my concerns is the possible walk home in grid-down (20 miles +/- depending on route and/or detours). As DH and I do not always keep the same work schedule there is a fair chance we will be apart and each have to make our own way home.

    I hope I’m not leading too far off everyone else’s comments related to camo and hunting and home protection with this… but my big thing will be blending in. Rather than blending into a natural background, I will need to blend into the crowd, doing my best to be a gray man.

    I will need to move as quickly as I can without appearing to actually do so. To look as confused as everyone else, while actually keeping an eye on the people around me and my route(s) in my head.

    My GHB includes very plain clothes, dark footwear and a very plain, everyday looking regular sized backpack (not too heavy). Nothing colorful, nothing eye-catching, nothing hi tech, no camo – just plain. I will need to get home before most people even understand what is happening. But, if I am the only person with a flashlight and/or radio that will certainly draw attention. I do have a small radio Ken recommended last year (in a faraday pouch) that has a cord and ear piece, so I could put that in a pocket, but it may not work or there may not be signals to pick-up, so that may be moot.

    My instinct is to not give anyone a chance to really talk with me and just keep moving, but that may not be so easy. Still working this out as you can see.

    1. So Cal Gal, haven’t you heard? There is also a pandemic coming as China has finally gotten the bird flu to take hold in humans. Spread through the air they say. What you haven’t heard. I do not feel well so please go on so you won’t get sick too. cough cough…………

    2. Consider a folding bike in the trunk of your car. This could reduce your get home time to a couple of hours instead of a day or more.

      1. Folding Bicycle very good idea to Reduce the amount of time your just passing through from about 10 hours if your a fast steady walker to 2-3 hours.

        There is often a window of time before the Sheeple and Thugs figure out things are totally screwed up (SHTF) and I would prefer to get home before they start acting ugly. Please use that Bicycle So Cal Gal along with your plain clothes idea.

        We need folks like you to survive and prosper after SHTF.

  15. The shooter in Florida tried to blend in and leave the school with others. He had on a maroon tee shirt which is one of the school colors. One could suppose he has watched too many movies where the perp gets away doing the same. Like my daddy, a law man, always told me when were watching the Untouchables. Real life is not like TV.

  16. I’ve been to the school where we had to make our own grille suits. Like all graduates of that school, I like cotton and burlap. The basis was a cotton netting “sniper scarf” served as the basis for everything else tied to it.

    Knowing these skills is not always good for public relations. One rancher that called on me to shoot a wary peacock that was bullying his chickens sat on his porch and watched me low crawl into position and take out the dominant male peacock after suiting up and completing a 45 minute stalk. He was a Viet Nam vet and told me that watching the process, though satisfying for him, sent a chill up his spine. He was a Navy man and drove small boats in the Brown Water navy.

    This is a specialized skill set and one must be careful who you choose to teach these skills to. You may be educating tomorrow’s poacher or outlaw. the difference b/t me and them are a strong sense of ethics to do the right thing every day.

  17. Darn spellcheck cannot tell the difference between “Grille” and “Ghillie” suit. Back in the 1980’s I went through this school with some crazy good old boys from Rhodesia. ( Their country was going through a name change back then.). They had seen some stuff and were scary.

  18. – So Cal Gal- Sounds like a plan to me. Especially like the ‘bird flu’ part.
    CaliRefugee – I learned a long time ago that not all the skills i learned in previous lives are good to let on to, or necessarily pass on without careful consideration. ( Not good to tell the friendly local judge that locks are only there to keep honest folks honest.) PS Went to school with some guys that wore Girl Scout hats or had been LRRP’s. Talk about some people that could come up with some scary stuff!
    – Papa S.

  19. Someone once posted–
    “Take a hint from the turtle–keep a low profile, wear armor”

  20. There’s another type of detection you have to avoid: automatic porch/garden lights. Near a place I lived for a while there was a house built right next to the fence overlooking the road. If you walked past the fence at night a set of three lights would flick on.

    My current apartment block has automatic lights in all the hallways, and I have yet to manage sneaking past all of them…..

    1. The interesting thing is with a little redneck tinkering that automatic light can be used to send a signal to your computer that something is moving Over Here And you can then close that circuit to floodlight that zone or etc.

      Sneaky folks is why I am so big on physical barriers and nasty plantings of thorns and poison oak. You have to crawl through what?? Cut or climb over that fence in plain view of that fighting tower. Bummer.

      Right now were testing a redneck version of FLIR using a directional mike and Wolf Ears with a coaxial laser to guide team firepower. Figure if your sneaking up you are up to no good.

  21. To NH Michael and Ken:

    What is the realistic battery life for your FLIR units and the various active measures for your perimeter security? Same question for the wearable night vision/thermal scan units and FLIR headsets? Battery life was also affected by temperature. Have you and your group measured this? Standard or oddball batteries?

    I currently hunt by daylight butt I am limited to perimeter security after dark. ( one could say security after dark is my primary job since I work 3rd watch/pm shift within a locked facility.) I have had good luck catching people messing up because I am cautious and distrusting of the patients under my care. I check the unit if things are too quiet.

    1. I do not have FLIR at this time thus my efforts to build a Redneck version as mentioned above. But from what I remember from my buddies active duty days our night patrol load outs were ammo and lots of batteries as night vision requires a lot of power.

      Looking forward to that battery life information myself. Could Southern man give us a report on that IR scope he Hog Hunts with as far as batteries needed and life?

    2. CaliRefugee,

      I don’t have a FLIR (thermal) unit, however I do own the PVS-14 Auto-gated White Phosphor 3rd Gen. and believe it or not it simply takes a AA battery. 50+ hours. Although that’s without using the built-in IR Illuminator, which I would rarely use anyway. Regardless, the AA battery is so inexpensive comparatively, it doesn’t even matter. I use Lithium Ion for better performance. Hope that helps.

      P.S. Keep a spare battery with you, just in case.

      1. Ken it is nice to hear your unit is battery thrifty and a single AA wow.

        Now in your opinion would that unit be able to “See” that Camouflaged Man in your picture in the evening/night? This old soldier-medic is curious about the newer technologies. I am pretty sure Southern mans IR hunting scope would see the hidden man. Hoping for a report from him about the battery life.

        1. NH Michael,

          Regarding the camo man in the picture, he is covered with leaves, perhaps slightly buried. Only thing showing is his face, although he’s painted.

          My NVD does not indicate heat signature. It does however do a great job at turning night into day (within reason) depending on starlight, moonlight, or other sources of ambient light.

          The problem is, even if that scene in the picture was at night and I was able to see it as though nearly ‘day’, I can safely say that I would not notice that man lying there. Unless perhaps if his eyes reflected some light (e.g. moonlight shining directly on his face).

          On the other hand, a FLIR Thermal Imaging Device will have indicated the heat signature of his face, to an extent.

          I really, really like my PVS-14 and prefer that initially over FLIR due to it’s visual acuity and natural look-and-feel while viewing the scene at night (the white phosphor model is very natural compared to the ‘green’). Whereas FLIR shows temperature differences (a different type of visual image presentation).

          FLIR Thermal imaging though would be fantastic in certain situations.

          The best would be a combo unit, but one would need some serious big time loot to acquire one of those I would imagine.

  22. I read the trail notes of a mountain man quite a few years ago. It was the same notes that Louis L’Amour used as research in several of his books. That booklet is no longer in print. I would give a lot to have a copy of it again. With that being said, I remember the descriptions of moving in Indian country while trapping. Take a few steps and sit and watch for 3-10 minutes. If something doesn’t seem right, sit and watch for an hour. Keeping your hair meant being cautious. The Old Man would only do 2 miles in a day sometimes when he was deep in it. He ran traps at night. He moved in the day only when necessary. Reading the journals and trail notes of the mountain men should be a study we all partake in our life. A lot of wisdom can be had for a pittance as the old ones learned in the hardest manner of all. Experience gives the test first and then supplies the lesson. Best regards to each of you.

    1. BG
      Slow n steady, i grew up reading Louis Lamore Sackets etc,,, love those books,

  23. Moving slowly also defeats PIR/IR cameras etc as in one step stop and variations on a theme depending how good the system is.

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