There it sits.
Alone and forgotten in a desk drawer or maybe in the bottom of your hunting pack.
The lowly compass.
Primarily initially replaced by the hand held GPS and now even by the new “smart” cell phones that include GPS, electronic compass – even real time imaging on aerial maps!
Once the friend of every hunter and now the companion of few.
It is not glamorous or glitzy, that is for sure… no bells and no whistles.
Aaaaah, but let’s not rush to forget our former friend!
For those of us that grew up and navigated with the compass long before the advent of the GPS, we will recall the magical powers it once held – particularly for those of us who had a terrible “traveling bone” when hunting, as I must admit I have. I was long accused of always having to go over that “next ridge” to find the perfect hunting spot... and though my legs are more tired these days, I still roam fairly far and wide.
What the compass is, however, is still a very powerful tool!
Batteries? Forget them!
Waterproof? As a bullfrog.
Reliable? Even a semi decent compass is not likely to give problems.
Costs? In today’s high priced world, they are a bargain.
Used only to help determine wind direction when scouting, they are an immediate and powerful tool. As you get ready to set up your stand or ambush location, one quick glance is all you need to reference a known prevailing wind direction. Nothing to turn on or fumble with… just pick it up and look at it.
Don’t know the prevailing wind direction or which way it is forecast to blow? No problem… take a look around at your intended hunting location, “feel” the wind with a string or some debris dropped in the air – and then set up accordingly… simple as that. I recommend that you take 3-4 wind samples over a few moments to make sure you have in fact picked up the prevailing direction and not just an errant gust.
We have long known we can not fool a wise old buck’s nose… so hunting the right wind direction is all important… simply use your “lowly” compass to help you do that!
I could end the tip right here – but no reason to!
Let’s say you have a traveling bone also.
Ever notice how DARK the woods look when you do not know where you are going?
Not so bad in the morning if you get turned around… you know you can sit down and wait for daylight, even if you missed your intended hunting spot.
Reverse the tables…. You are ¾ of a mile from the truck, it gets dark and you pull out your (formerly) trusty GPS unit. It fails, or the batteries are dead. Night has fallen and now every sound in the woods sounds sort of spooky, right?
Out comes your trusty friend… you should know which direction you need to go… you may not hit the truck right on the spot – but at least you can walk in a straight line and be comfortable that you are, in fact, headed the right way!
Get your old friend the compass out and polish him up…. Or go get one if you do not have one… it will make you a better hunter and may just prevent you from spending a long and scary night in the woods!!
Here is an example of one of my older compasses - well time worn and it has even developed an air bubble in it (a big one) but it is still as true and reliable as can be.
Note that I have a string so it can go around my neck or tie it to the pack real quick... and I also put a section of reflective tape on it in the event I lose it - at night, that tape will glow like a beacon so I can find my old friend!