Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Navigation - Getting From Here to There

This is the third article in our navigation series for deer hunters. We've been talking about using topo maps and compasses to help us get off the beaten path to scout new areas. Now we'll show you how to put the two tools together in a real-world scouting situation.

Let's say we parked our vehicle at point B, walked northwest up the logging road, then turned right and headed out the ridge to point A. We've been following our progress on the map as we walked using the technique we talked about in the compass article, so we are certain of our position. Now we want to take the most direct route back to our vehicle.

The first step is to place our topo map on a flat surface and orient it with our compass.

Now, without moving the map, we are going to lay our compass on the map with one edge of the baseplate lying on the imaginary line from our present position to our destination, making sure that the destination end of the baseplate is the one that has the index mark where we read the compass direction. Now we will rotate the bezel to line up the arrow with the north end of the compass needle. When we're done, our map and compass should look like this:

Now, getting back to our vehicle is a simple matter of walking a straight line. With a sighting compass like we prefer, there are two ways to do that. Either by holding the compass at waist level and following the line down the center of the mirror.

Or if we want to be more accurate, we will hold the comapss at eye level with the mirror angled back so that we can see the reflection of the needle while using the notch at the top of the lid like a gun sight.

Either way, we will pick out a tree that lies on the line indicated by the compass, walk to the tree, then repeat on another tree until we arrive at our vehicle. By the way, the compass in the photos is about 30 years old and has lost part of the silvering at the bottom of the mirror. That's why you can't see a reflection of the far side of the bezel.

Before you head deep into the back country, practice these skills in a familiar area until you are comfortable with them. Once you've mastered them, you'll never hesitate to venture wherever your feet take you.


Anonymous said...

when you say orient the map with your compass this means orient with magnetic north that is shown on the map is that correct?

Pursuit Hunter said...

By "orient the map" I'm talking about aligning true north on the map with true north of the earth. The easiest way to do that is to set the declination on your compass, then align the true north lines inside the compass bezel with a north-south line on the map (the left or right margins, for instance)