Many of today’s hunters cannot remember a time when they did not have electronics to guide them through the wilderness. They never leave home without a GPS or their smartphone with a built-in compass. Lost? Use your cell phone to call for help, right?
But back in the day, when there were no such fancy electronic crutches, people navigated by the stars at night, the position of the sun during the day, and identified landmarks.
So what happens if you are hunting the wilderness, left the GPS in the truck, your phone runs out of juice, and you become disoriented or lost?
Here are three ways that can give you a good idea of which way is which.
- There are reasons the military employs watches with hour and minute hands, not a digital display. One is that you can use this type of watch to find yourself. How so? It’s easy. First, point the hour hand at the sun, then draw a line on the ground between it and the number 12 on the watch face. If it is 6:O’Clock, for example, the line will go through the number 3 — and that line will point to the south.
- No watch? Hike to an open area that’s relatively flat and gets as much sun as possible, and drive a straight stick (length: 2-3 feet) into the ground. The end of the shadow cast by the stick will be West. Mark it with a rock or another stick. Then wait 15-30 minutes and place again a rock at the end of the new stick shadow. This new mark will represent the East. Now that you have the East and West you can find any other direction.
- After dark, you should try and find the North Star. Since it is not the brightest star in the sky, this can be disconcerting if you don’t know what to do. First, identify the Big Dipper. Next, identify the two stars at the “pouring end” of the ladle, and mark the distance between them. Then simply draw a line between the two stars at the pouring end of the ladle and extend it 5 times, and voila! There sits Polaris, the North star, at the end of that line. Polaris is also the tip of the Little Dipper’s handle.