James, Demetri and Alistair are three vampires each showing one of three closely related special abilities that can be generally called tracking sense. They can locate the position and movements of a target, generally of a living being, possibly intended as prey, but on occasion, even inanimate objects. While most vampires track their targets using the five senses, these vampires track them using supernatural means. They therefore are called trackers.
- "He was a skilled tracker, able to sense in advance the most likely moves of his prey."
- ―Entry on James's gift[src]
After crossing the scent of a human or an animal, James could instinctively predict his prey's most likely moves and use it as a means of tracking and then follow his target until he caught up. He could pick up a target's scent, then walk away and leave it alone for a while before beginning to hunt. The hunt may have taken time, but he never lost his prey. He could also predict his prey's moves in advance and pick up an old, faint scent that most vampires were probably unable to.
James's power of predicting his prey's moves wasn't perfect, meaning his target may change course of movement without his knowledge. Supposedly, he was only good at tracking living beings.
As a human, James was trained by his father to track and trap his prey, learning quickly and becoming the best tracker on the frontier. With this skill, he learned to survive in the forest as a child and adolescent. He could track his prey's movements in minutes.
As a vampire, James's hunting skill manifested in a form of power, which allowed him to track his prey by predicting their move, dedicating his existence to hunting for sport. To challenge himself, he first picked a person in a crowd, picked up the scent with one whiff, then left it alone for sometime (weeks or months)before he started hunting; when that became too easy, he started picking someone on a crowded dock, follow the ship a few months later, and search for his prey in another country. When he got bored of such quests, he started hunting vampires; he especially liked picking a coven member, as the other members would attempt revenge when he killed one of them. He even hunted a werewolf across Siberia once, though he didn't know what it was at that time.
While hunting Victoria, her ability to escape made it impossible for him to kill her, as she always sensed his dangerous presence and avoided him. Even after years of chasing, he never caught up to her. Eventually, James became so impressed with her evasion that he felt attracted to her. James never viewed letting Victoria survive as a failure, because he had found her and—in a way—claimed her life.
While pursuing a different prey, James came across Mary Alice Brandon's faint scent: she was what the Volturi called a "singer" for James. He followed her trail to an asylum. However, Alice's power of prediction warned her of his coming, and she confided in her only friend, an old vampire who worked nights at the asylum. After realizing he wouldn't be strong enough to stop James, he bit Alice and took her away. By the time James caught up to them, Alice was already in the final process of her transformation; there was no trail of blood left for him to savor.
- "He's a tracker, Alice, did you see that? He's a tracker!"
In Twilight, James and his coven met the Cullen family, another vampire coven, in Forks. James decided to hunt Bella Swan after seeing Cullens' protectiveness (especially Edward's) of the human girl and Alice's surprising presence, which made the most exciting game for James.
Laurent warned the Cullens that his power made him deadly, and they should be very careful around him, since hunting was James's obsession.
Edward attempted to mislead him with Bella's scent - it worked sporadically. Trusting his instinct, he followed Bella all the way to Phoenix, where he set a trap for her by luring her to a ballet studio to separate her from the Cullens.
- "He is a skilled tracker. He catches the essence of a person's mind and then follows it like a scent over any distance."
- ―Entry on Demetri's gift[src]
By coming across the "essence" of an individual's mind and focusing on it, Demetri can find said individual no matter where they are. He is known as the greatest tracker in the world, far superior even to James. He doesn't need to have physically met the person to be able to track them down; by coming across someone else who had met the target, he can pick up the essence through him or her.
Seemingly limited to finding living beings only, Demetri can only link to his targets once he has physically met them or has picked up his or her trail from someone who has met them in the past. It has been confirmed by The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide that only strong mental shields such as Bella Swan's can render his power useless.
Though there was no official description as to how his power manifested, it was implied that Demetri was already skilled at tracking as a human, which drew Amun's attention and prompted him to turn Demetri into a vampire.
The two worked together to develop his ability and in time, Demetri's power was matched by no tracker. This eventually drew the Volturi's notice, and Aro replaced his previous tracker with him, who had a less potent power of tracking.
Ever since then, he had been part of all of the Volturi's important missions. Whenever a coven or individual had committed a crime that drew the Volturi's notice, Demetri was assigned to find them, since no one could ever escape his power.
- "He's a tracker―a tracker a thousand times more gifted than James was. His ability is loosely related to what I do, or what Aro does. He catches the... flavor? I don't know how to describe it... the tenor... of someone's mind, and then he follows that. It works over immense distances."
- ―Edward's description of Demetri's gift.[src]
Upon leaving Volterra by the end of New Moon, Edward tells Bella and his family that he did not want to touch Aro's hand again, because he did not want him to find out he had discovered that Demetri's tracking ability is mental. Working from this statement from the book, it is fair to assume that thoughts linger or leave behind some kind of trace Demetri is able to pick up and follow. The interesting part of the workings of Demetri's ability is that it would be ineffective on Bella, due to "her brain being wired wrong".
In Breaking Dawn it is also commented that if Demetri's power did not make him the greatest tracker in the world, Aro would have replaced him by now, as Aro doesn't surround himself with "second best".
The Cullens believed that, because of his skills and capabilities, killing Demetri would be one of their main priorities if it came to open war with the Volturi. Renesmee, Bella and Edward's daughter, was the primary target on the Cullens' side, and they knew that if somehow Renesmee did escape with her life, Demetri would be sent to find her and bring her in for "justice".
- "Alistair can track both people and things. He can sense the general direction of whatever he is looking for, but it takes him a long time to narrow this feeling down to a specific location. If whatever he's seeking is on the move, he may never catch up."
- ―Entry on Alistair's gift[src]
Alistair is the only vampire known to be able to track inanimate objects in addition to living beings.
His power works by focusing on a target to find its general direction; he can also narrow down a location and the distance between them. It is described as a kind of a magnetic pull toward the target, though it is possible to avoid it.
Though useful, this ability is more limited than those of James's and Demetri's. Alistair mostly feels the general direction of the object he focuses on, and it takes some time to narrow his feeling down to a specific location. If whatever he is seeking is on the move, he may never catch up.
Alistair had a passion with animals and was a fairly skilled hunter.
By becoming a vampire, this trait manifested into a sort of power that allowed him to track any object he focused on.
- "Alistair was a tracker, though not nearly as precise and efficient as Demetri. Alistair just felt an elusive pull toward whatever he was seeking."
- ―Bella's description of Alistair's talent.[src]
Edward describes Alistair's ability to Bella when he first arrived in Forks, though begrudgingly, to witness for the Cullen family. Alistair flees Forks after sensing the numbers of the Volturi and their witnesses coming to confront the Cullens.
According to The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, the Volturi had another, less powerful tracker before Demetri joined them. There is no confirmation as to how this tracker's power worked nor what happened to him after he was replaced by Demetri.
- Alice Cullen has the power of foresight. Though this power is not the same as tracking, it can be used in that method to anticipate a target's moves and the direction it is headed.