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Our Instructors  
Jonathan Z Murphy


​With over 23 years of experience as an agent with the federal government, the majority of which was spent in tactical woodland operations requiring advanced tracking skills, Jon developed comprehensive experience in woodland operations, counter-poaching techniques, and manhunt operations. He completed the National Park Service Special Operations and Tactical Tracking Operations courses.
He was the tracker for numerous multi-agency tactical tracking teams throughout his NPS career including countless search and rescue missions and several searches for fugitives in a woodlands environment. This included high profile incidents where Jon was a tracker in the extensive search for domestic terrorist bomber Eric Rudolph from 1998-2000 and in the murder case of a National Park Service  ranger killed while on duty in 1998. The evidence obtained, and his testimony as an expert witness in tracking was crucial in the conviction of the murderer.  
Jon was a member of the Alaska Region Special Operations Team.  Jon served as a Pathfinder in Viet Nam between 1971-72.  
Jon has instructed and trained various state and federal agencies in the art of Tactical Tracking and Woodland Operations. He is currently a contract instructor at Southwestern Community College.

Mark Motsko: Communications Specialist

A recent retiree from the National Park Service, Mark dedicated over 30 years to the protection our nation's natural and cultural resources. He became a law enforcement ranger in 1980 assigned to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over the next nine years, Mark honed his backcountry man tracking skills spending countless hours in the Park investigating wildlife violations and searching for lost hikers. He gained additional experience through subsequent assignments to National Parks in Arkansas, Wyoming, Oregon, North Dakota and Alaska. Mark was a member of the National Park Service Special Events Team and responded to numerous felonious incidents including a manhunt in the Grand Canyon and the apprehension of a survivalist at Glacier Bay National Park. Mark completed several tactical training classes taught by state police/troopers and special military units. He was a small arms armorer and firearms instructor. He currently resides in Central Oregon.
To schedule a class or for additional information email: patten@woodlandoperations.com 

 Phone:  828-736-1213 


TACTICAL WOODLAND OPERATIONS SCHOOL LLC ®   Cullowhee, NC 28723

Mike has over 37 years of varied Law Enforcement experience. He has worked as a subject matter expert in tracking and woodland operations for National Park Rangers at Shenandoah National park, Blue Ridge Parkway and Smoky Mountains. Hull has also taught as a subject matter expert in tracking for The Border Hunter Course at Fort Bliss-Texas, Combat Hunter Course at Camp Lejeune-NC and when not teaching Tracking, he works part time for Wintergreen Police Department and is a Special Deputy in three counties.
 Hull specializes in the use of visual tracking in law enforcement, tactical tracking for armed and dangerous persons, use of tracking in SAR, foot impression evidence collection and preservation, camouflage and concealment and reconnaissance of rural environments.
 VITALE’s clientele has included federal agencies such as DEA, ATF, FBI, US Border Patrol, US Marshalls, US Park Rangers and Local Officers and SWAT teams, State Police, Conservation Police, and Corrections Officers.

Mike is the owner of Hull's Tracking School.


Patrick Patten: Founder and President

​I grew up in rural Alabama where I was an avid outdoorsman. This passion for the outdoors helped shape my life and career direction. My educational and instructional achievements include the following:

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center: Lead Instructor/SME Woodland Operations: 2008 - 2012
Adjunct Instructor Federal Law Enforcement Training Center – Backcountry Tactical Tracking Training        Program : 2013 - present
Adjunct Instructor - Southwestern Community College Public Safety Training Center:1990 - present
Use of Force Instructor Certification 2008 
Instructor: NPS Special OPS School, 2000 - 2003
Graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, 1986
B.S Degree in Outdoor Resource Management, University of Southern Mississippi, 1982

WOODLAND OPERATIONS EXPERIENCE

Law Enforcement Ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 1983 - 2008. 
Lead Tracker on the Eric Rudolph manhunt: 1998 – 2003
Team Leader of Tactical Tracking Team- 1999 - 2006 
Team Leader of counter-drug operations on the U.S. southern border 2000 - 2003
Conference Speaker at National Association of Fugitive Investigators – 2001
Conference speaker at NCTOA Conference - 2013
Tracker and command on numerous large scale fugitive manhunts
Tactical Search Consultant on Eric Rudolph, Christopher Dorner, and Eric Frein manhunts
Tracker and command on numerous Search and Rescue Operations
Qualified Expert witness in Federal Courts in Visual Tracking
Extensive experience in woodland crime scene reconstruction
Founder/Senior Instructor Tactical Woodland Operations School
Extensive field experience in counter-poaching operations and rural surveillance operations  
Featured on Discovery Channel/Canada, CNN Anderson Cooper 360; Subject Matter Expert
  for Reuters, Associated Press, People and others

WOODLAND OPERATIONS INSTRUCTIONAL EXPERIENCE 

I have been developing and instructing woodland operations training since the early 1990’s. I have trained numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies including the FBI, ATF, USFS, NPS, BLM, USFWS, DOD, BIA, TRIBAL POLICE, USMS, NC Highway Patrol, U.S. Army Special Forces, Kansas State Patrol, Texas Fish and Game. 

Pat Patten instructing a tracking class 
Mike Hull
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John Garrison
John has over 27 years as a federal law enforcement officer, John worked in both woodland and urban environments. During that time he was involved in manhunts for the killers of police officers as well as other fugitives. His background also includes membership on a special event and tactics team, command positions on regional and national incident teams and incident commander for a variety of woodland incidents.


Currently serving as an adjunct instructor in both state and federal accredited law enforcement programs at Southwestern Community College, he also worked as a contract instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and has provided training and consultation on law enforcement programs at the international, national and local levels. He retired as a chief, giving him insight into both on the ground operations and the management of them.



  • Basic Law Enforcement Training, SCC SLET 17
  • Basic Police Training, FLETC 9PT407, 
  • Criminal Investigator Training, FLETC CITP321Z, 
  • Visual Tracking Instructor Training, GRSM 
  • Wildland Arson Investigator Training, FLETC/NWCG 
  • Operations Section Chief T2 Training, NWCG 
  • Law Enforcement Instructor Training, NCJS & FLETC 
  • Consultation to National Government of Hungary
  • BA Recreation Administration, UNC Chapel Hill 1977  
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