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COMPASSES
Big Game Hunting topics that dont fit other categories
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watchmaker
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:52 pm    Post subject: COMPASSES Reply with quote

COMPASSES

Hi guys,
The impulse to write this post came with the recent discovery that we live in the midst of a generation so dependent on gadgets (and adept at using them) that they lose, or never discover, the simpler way of doing things.

I conducted an “antler hunt” in the April spring woods with a group of Boy Scouts of my son’s troop. The plan was to scout the woods during the day and using flashlights at night, employing compasses to coordinate the excursion.
The group consisted of several boys aged 13 to 16 years, bringing with them a large assortment of electronic equipment. I have to say that they were very excellent at using them, especially the iPods, cell phones, two-way radios, and GPS’s, but they failed miserably in their understanding of the low -tech compass.

THIS PICTURE SHOWS A VARIETY OF COMPASSES AND TWO GPS’S, THE GARMIN XL12 LT
AND THE GARMIN E-TREX SUMMIT, AS WELL AS A SUREFIRE AVIATOR FLASHLIGHT.



I have nothing against GPS’s; as a matter of fact, I use them myself and have a couple that I use often to complement the compass I use.
After all, the GPS can give you your position (and you can plot this in a map) in any weather and even at night, making it easy to walk cross-country in the woods. However, I am not one of those guys glued to the GPS. After I get my position and course to follow, I put the gadget away and use the compass to get the direction for my trek.

This is going to be sort of a very short (space limitation) refresher course on how to use the basic base plate compass. Of all the types available, I am going to stick to the Silva system for now, as it is the easiest to understand. They come in several flavors; from the inexpensive less- than-$10, to the more elaborate of $50 or so, but they all do the basic job of guiding you well.

That I stick to the Silva system doesn’t mean that you have to buy a Silva Compass. The market is full of others brands that use the same base plate system such as Brunton, Suunto, Kasper & Ritcher, etc.
The mechanics of taking bearings and following directions are very easy. I will try to make them short and understandable, as the scope of this article is only to produce the basics, and should not be considered a treatise in navigation.

The compass’ needle points to the Magnetic North, not the geographic North, but we only have to compensate for it when we use the compass together with a map.
For navigation in the woods without a map, this is what you have to do. With the compass in front of you, point the direction-of-travel arrow in the direction you want to go, then rotate the capsule until the magnetic arrow North part (usually red) lies pointing to the letter N (for North) in the capsule. Read the bearing (in degrees) at the junction of the line-of-travel arrow and the capsule. In this case, it is showing 270 degrees, which means that the direction you want to travel in is 270 degrees, or exactly West.

Now, move your feet and rotate your body (not the compass) until the magnetic needle points to the N. Pick a landmark lying in your direction (West) and walk to it without looking at the compass. When you reach that landmark, reorient your body again, pick another landmark (a tall tree?) and keep walking until you get to your destination.

When you want to return, don’t change anything on the compass! Move your body, putting the South part of the needle over the “N,” or alternatively, just invert the base plate with the direction-of-travel arrow pointing towards you. Or, if you want to change the setting, just put East as your returning direction in the line-of-travel; that will be 90 degrees in your numbered capsule.

And to make this explanation as simple as possible, I will explain compass and map together in the next posting.

All the best
Watchmaker
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watchmaker
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:54 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

COMPASS AND MAP TOGETHER

The compass needle points to geographic North only at the agonic line (line of no declination because it is the same as the geographical North line). This line passes now through the west part of Florida and the Great Lakes. My friends in Wisconsin never have to adjust for magnetic declination. I hike and hunt in New York, where I have to adjust for 17 degrees West, and in Maine as much as 22 degrees West. The people on the West coast have to adjust for declination East.
If you are located over that line, the needle will point geographic North. All other times the magnetic needle points to the magnetic North that is located some 1300 miles from the geographic North.
Your topographic map will tell you in a diagram found in the left corner how much is the declination in your area. If the map is old, you may have to find the present declination to be more accurate in your traveling if it involves a long trek, where one degree could make a difference.

Once you found how many degrees of declination you have to adjust for, you can do it on the compass or on the map.

PICTURE OF A COMPASS WITH INSIDE DECLINATION SCALE



PICTURE OF A COMPASS WITH AN ADJUSTABLE SCALE, IT MOVES THE LOWER INSIDE DIAL
BY A GEARED SCREW.

PICTURE OF A COMPASS WITHOUT A SCALE, IN THIS CASE YOU HAVE TO FIGURE YOUR DECLINATION BY ADDING OR SUBSTRACTING FROM THE 360 DEGREES, IN THIS CASE THE DECLINATION IS 18 WEST, SO THE NEEDLE IS PLACED OVER THE 342 MARKINGS.
EACH OF THE MARKINGS IS EQUIVALENT AT 2 DEGREES, THERE ARE 180 OF THEM AROUND THE COMPASS.



ADJUSTING THE MAP
To make the map speak compass language (magnetic North), extend the line of declination all across the map from the little diagram in the corner, using a long ruler and spacing the lines about two inches. Or use your compass as a protractor (measuring angles) to trace the start of the line from anywhere on the map.
After doing this, both the compass and the map will “speak” magnetic readings and you will not have to adjust the compass for magnetic declination.

ADJUSTING THE COMPASS
If you would rather adjust for declination on the compass (and save yourself from tracing lines on the map), every time you are going to follow a bearing in the field, you have to move the needle to the proper declination. So instead of pointing to North, it will point 22 degrees West of North (in the case of Maine), or 338 degrees.
Or, if you are West of the agonic line, then your declination will be East and you will have to move the needle East of the North marking on the compass.
Some compasses have a scale printed in the capsule, and some of them adjust by means of a internal rotating bezel that adjusts with a screwdriver stored in the lanyard. I like the latter type because there is nothing to do after you set it; you just place the needle in the “gate” that is already adjusted to the proper declination after you do it the first time.

To use the compass and map together, find where you are in the map and where you want to go, connect the two places with a line that extends from the side of your compass, and without moving it, rotate the “capsule” of the compass so that the lines inscribed on the bottom of the capsule combine with your drawn magnetic lines on the map OR the North line(s) or margin on the map if you are adjusting for declination on the compass.

Just follow the bearing that you have just set at the back end of the “line of travel arrow” and you will arrive at your destination.

IN THIS PICTURE, A SUUNTOO S5SK IS USED TO CONNECT THE START AND FINISH, ONLY THING TO DO NOW IS ROTATE THE CAPSULE UNTIL THE LINES INSCRIBED IN IT, PARALLEL THE NORTH LINES ON THE MAP, AND READ THE DEGREES AT THE JUNCTION OF THE LINE OF TRAVEL ARROW AND THE BEZEL WITH THE NUMBERS. (DISREGARD THE MAGNETIC NEEDLE WHEN THE COMPASS IS ON THE MAP)



All this is very basic, but it will take you to the proper destination. If you would like to study map and compass a little more and learn how to navigate using more elaborate techniques, such as using handles, taking triangulation, or navigating in open terrain without the use of landmarks, I recommend you buy one of the books that are available on the subject.

I started many years ago with the classic “Be Expert with Map & Compass” by Bjorn Kjellstrom, which I recommend, but there are many other books that you can get from places like REI.
Using Map and Compass by Don Geary
The Outward Bound Map and Compass handbook by Glenn Randall
Wilderness Navigation by Bob and Mike Burns

I hope this little post can help someone interested in navigating the woods by map and compass. I feel that is a great need to go back to the basics to supplement and complement navigation with GPS, that after all, being electronic and depending on batteries can fail us when most needed.

Best wishes
Watchmaker
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Deleted_User_2665
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:26 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

GPS's are good for the gadget guys and I've even considered one for the sake of keeping points of interest logged less a note book. But, they require batteries, and are subject to failure from too many different evils. I'd not depend solely on a GPS....

A plain old US issue Lensatic with a map (better)...or without a map (doable) will not only get you in from a start point but will get you out even if you've nary a clue as to where you are when you finally admit you are lost.

Map compasses are great, if you've a map, and if you can read the map....pretty tough they are though, to triangulate with off of hard points. A Priceless ability when sheits gone wrong.

Gimme a Lensatic, a map if you've got one and I'm good to go....................
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Dimitri
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:00 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

I am going to have to get myself a new compass, thinking about getting a US Issued tridium "night" version.

I never used a GPS, don't plan on to, I can get from point "A" to point "B" with a map and compass, and if I don't have a compass a working dial watch will work in a pinch. Smile

Dimitri

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Deleted_User_2665
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:50 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

The Sun ALWAYS rises in the East....at least where I get lost at.
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Vince
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 9:08 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

wildswalker wrote:
GPS's are good for the gadget guys and I've even considered one for the sake of keeping points of interest logged less a note book. But, they require batteries, and are subject to failure from too many different evils. I'd not depend solely on a GPS....

A plain old US issue Lensatic with a map (better)...or without a map (doable) will not only get you in from a start point but will get you out even if you've nary a clue as to where you are when you finally admit you are lost.

Map compasses are great, if you've a map, and if you can read the map....pretty tough they are though, to triangulate with off of hard points. A Priceless ability when sheits gone wrong.

Gimme a Lensatic, a map if you've got one and I'm good to go....................

I agree totally Wildswalker. I don't own a GPS, but when in the military I used some pretty fancy ones. I have a couple of Silva compasses and use them whenever I need to. In the military we used a Prismatic Compass which I think is similar to the Lensatic you mention. I am pretty good at using the "map to ground" technique of navigation...assuming that the map is accurate. I only use military survey maps so I know their standard, which is good.

Dimitri wrote:
I never used a GPS, don't plan on to, I can get from point "A" to point "B" with a map and compass, and if I don't have a compass a working dial watch will work in a pinch.

Dimitri, never pass up on an opportunity to confirm your navigation or to make it easier. A GPS is only another tool to facilitate navigation...a fancy compass. Having said that knowing how to use a map and compass is mandatory if your GPS has flat batteries or can't secure comms with the satellites...its happened to me. A GPS will NOT penetrate heavy rain forest/jungle to lock onto satellites. Another thing any good navigator in the bush needs to know is how to do a re-section. Using this process you can pretty much determine your position if you become "geographically embassassed".

Why a dial watch and not a digital mate? Either/or will do the job. If you digital watch is showing 1400hrs then we all know where the "2" is on the dial. Also, at night you can use the stars. In Australia I reckon pretty much everyone can identify the Southern Cross (its on our flag) and from this you can work out the position of the South Celestial Pole, or due South.

There are many many other aids to direction finding...as Wilswalker said "The Sun ALWAYS rises in the East....at least where I get lost at.", same here in Australia. Very Happy Laughing Don't forget nature either....in Australia we have termite mounds that orientate in a north-south direction, because of the way the termites react to the position of the sun during the day. Also the position of moss on a tree trunk can give you a pretty good indication of direction, well certainly here in Australia.

The best aid you can always use though is a map and compass.....plus your knowledge of the local area. Another great aid is an aerial photo map. I have used these a couple of times when I was in the Army and depending on the age of the map, and most are fairly recent, you can navigate to a clump of trees or a rocky outcrop because they are all on the map.

Cheers, Vince

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Dimitri
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:38 am    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

Vince,

With me if something has batteries they will fail when I need them even if they are new! Murphy really hates me when it comes to batteries, so only things I depend on with batteries when I'm away from civilization is my digital camara which means nothing it if fails to work. Smile

A Digital would work, but I have seen many digital watches without the little marks around the dial indicating where the arms would normally be, plus I just like dial watches better so I generally wear thouse. Laughing

Vince yup Moss works to here, in the north part of the tree you'll find moss, while on the south side you wont, however in Australia this is opposite isn't in ?? Confused

Dimitri

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ElyBoy
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 8:27 am    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

Watchmaker, how come that when I saw the heading of your post, I just figured that you owned a multitude of compasses?? Very Happy

I agree with you guys on the compass though.
I don't even know how to use a GPS.
I used to do grids for DNR work, way back before electronics. I used the compass to find Boundary pins when running Brush Cat for Survey Crews.
Give me a good map and a good compass, and I feel real confidant in the woods.

During my Firearms Safety Classes, I devote much time in showing the students on compass reading.
I also teach them that pointing the hour hand of a watch towards the Sun and then going between the hour hand and twelve o'clock will give you South, and get you out of the woods. I use this method all of the time.

One of these days, I will learn the GPS, but for what I need, the good old compass works for me just fine.

Good post Watchmaker, and good timing for it, sense Hunting Season is here.

Eric

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keetoowah
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:15 am    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

ive never owned a compass
know how they work
know how to make one
just never had any need to carry one or buy one.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:08 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

Dimitri wrote:
Vince,

Murphy really hates me when it comes to batteries, Smile

A Digital would work, but I have seen many digital watches without the little marks around the dial indicating where the arms would normally be, plus I just like dial watches better so I generally wear thouse. Laughing

Vince yup Moss works to here, in the north part of the tree you'll find moss, while on the south side you wont, however in Australia this is opposite isn't in ?? Confused

Dimitri

Mate, you don't need little marks on the face of your digital. Doesn't matter where you decide 12 is on the face, so long as the other numbers are correct in relation to the 12....ie, 12 at 0 or 360deg, 3 at 90deg, 6 at 180deg and 9 at 270deg...for those that prefer mils it is: 12 at 0 or 6400mils, 3 at 1600mils, 6 at 3200mils and 9 at 4800mils. The other numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 are positioned in their normal places.

Yep, Moss on the South side.

What Eric says is correct also....just down here on the "bottom" of the Earth instead of South it is North.

Ah, Keetoowah....some of that natural Indian ability coming out eh? Had an aboriginal mate here in Queensland that was an awesome navigator. Took one look at a map then took off, didn't consult it again, just went to the place.

We could spend weeks and hundreds of pages discussing and clarifying navigation and still not cover it all. Its a fascinating, but important subject for those that venture into the wild. Every...EVERY...bushwalker, hunter and camper should have a basic knowledge of navigation...would be less lost people.

Cheers, Vince
Cheers, Vince

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1895ss
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:23 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

Vince wrote:


Yep, Moss on the South side.


Moss on North Side here ........... Smile

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:58 am    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

Yeah 1895zz...I guess moss grows on the south side in some areas and on the north side in others. Where I'm from it grows all around the tree and is of no use for navigating the mountains...

I'm with Keetoowah. I rarely take a compass to the mountains. I use "dead reckoning" and prominant land features such as peaks, saddles, rock outcrops and any other noticable land feature close and far. Traveling at night in the mountains is an absolute NO-NO. At dusk, find shelter, build a fire (if you can). The morning/evening sun gives rough N,S,W,E direction. Knowing where camp is and what land mark is near it that can be seen from most directions from camp gets you back to camp. If you get lost in the mountains, (and "lost" is really when you panic) you get unlost by going down hill until you find a stream. Follow it down stream until it meets a river. Follow this river until a bridge crosses it and you are no longer lost. The last time I got lost I was 12 years old and got seperated from my party. I paniced...I have never been lost sense. I have been temporarily "directionally chalenged" many a time, but never lost (paniced). The last time I used a compass was to chart my land boundries.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:49 am    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

heck i just use the leash the wife has me on... usually short enough to be not out of eyeshot... i carry a compass with me in the vest, but know the areas where i hunt well enough to not need it. there have been a few instances of as bush says directionally challenged, but never really lost in the woods.. knew where i was in relation to where i had to go, but was off a couple hundred yards of where i thought i would come out at..
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:56 am    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

I'm with you on the leash Morax.
Like I've said before, my Wife teaches, and today is the first day of school for Her and the Kids.
I gave Her a call at school and told Her that my neck was hurting, and it felt like a rash. She was all worried about me until I told Her that it was just from the leash that had been on it all summer, and sense it was off now, it should heal in short order. She even had to laugh at that.

By the way gang, the moss grows on all sides of trees up here.

Eric

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:52 pm    Post subject: Re: COMPASSES Reply with quote

Bushmaster wrote:
I'm with Keetoowah. I rarely take a compass to the mountains. I use "dead reckoning" and prominant land features such as peaks, saddles, rock outcrops and any other noticable land feature close and far. Traveling at night in the mountains is an absolute NO-NO. At dusk, find shelter, build a fire (if you can). The morning/evening sun gives rough N,S,W,E direction. Knowing where camp is and what land mark is near it that can be seen from most directions from camp gets you back to camp. If you get lost in the mountains, (and "lost" is really when you panic) you get unlost by going down hill until you find a stream. Follow it down stream until it meets a river. Follow this river until a bridge crosses it and you are no longer lost. The last time I got lost I was 12 years old and got seperated from my party. I paniced...I have never been lost sense. I have been temporarily "directionally chalenged" many a time, but never lost (paniced). The last time I used a compass was to chart my land boundries.

Fair enough Bushy, but I still advocate carrying a map and compass. Nothing worse than becoming a "little bamboozled" or "geographically embarrassed" and having to walk, or make Cutter walk, a few miles or for a couple of hours to get back on track instead of walking a back bearing for a much shorter time and distance to sort things out. As you say, it helps if you know the area, but even then you can come unstuck if you aren't careful. You mention landmarks....this is a good thing for when you wish to do a re-section with your map and compass to determine your position.....again will save a lot of walking and time to get back on track.

I can understand why you say walking at night in the mountains is a no-no......who wants to walk off a cliff wtf Shocked Mad Embarassed Shiner Toothless Bang Head , but sometimes you may need to ie, injury etc, and it is these times when knowing and understanding your map, compass, GPS and ability to navigate is paramount.

However, having said all of that, nothing beats knowing your hunt area. A bit of time spent studying a map of the area prior to heading out can make life easy and your hunt more enjoyable. A map and compass takes up very little room and weighs next to nothing so carrying them is no hardship.

Cheers, Vince

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Illegitimi non carborundum
(Never let the bastards grind you down)

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

"Nulla Si Fa Senza Volonta."
(Without Commitment, Nothing Gets Done)
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