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Survival Skills: Blaze Your Trails, Never Get Lost

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August 22, 2011
Survival Skills: Blaze Your Trails, Never Get Lost - 7

Becoming lost is a common way for modern people to find themselves in a wilderness survival situation. Imagine how easy it was for explorers and pioneers to get lost blazing new trails through the unknown places of the world.

Luckily, becoming lost is one of the easiest problems to avoid in the wilderness. All you have to do is blaze your own trails, or mark which way to go on existing trails. A little bit of hot pink survey tape and a permanent marker can be a great addition to your survival kit.  You can use this to make trails, mark trails and even leave messages.

If you find yourself lost without any survey tape, you can build signals and blazes on the ground so that a search party can find you. Rock cairns and stick structures are typical examples, and have been used for centuries. Techniques like chopping shapes into tree trunks were also used to communicate information and allow people to find their way. You can chop arrows into tree bark to point searchers toward your camp. 

I have heard that there are places in the southeastern U.S. where there are very old trees with bent tops. The story is that the native people would tie rope to young treetops to make the wood bend as it grew. This would eventually create a bent top that would guide the way to a village. Throughout the forest there were trees pointing the way home, so if the children ever became lost the trees would show them the way back to their people. How’s that for blazing a trail?

Before you run off making new trails, always make sure somebody responsible knows where you are going—and when you are coming back—just in case you get stuck out there.

Comments (7)

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from 25-06 guy 8/23/2011 at 08:39pm

I agree a map and a compass will do wonders if you know how yo read them.

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from www.dropjhook.com 8/23/2011 at 02:26pm

drop me off any where I promise I will make it home!

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from Deepwoods 8/23/2011 at 12:52pm

I got a better idea, learn to read a map and compass. As to hunters that can't do that - I sure don't want to trust them with a weapon!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 8/23/2011 at 12:20pm

Taking your tape down is an excellent idea. But so is politicians taking down their "vote for me" signs. It probably wouldn't happen very often.

But what if these tapes had to have the owner's name and adresse on them? Most trappers have to have their traps tagged with their name and address. How's that for a unique idea?!!!

Bob Hansen/Pathfinder1

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from Bob Hansen 8/23/2011 at 12:13pm

Smaller pieces of tape could be used, as could tape of a "unique" color. Also, there are now available push-pins with reflective beads on the ends. One could also leave a small piece of tape on a tree branch, instead of on a trunk. A small piece of reflective tape could also work.

Naturally, no VISIBLE markings at all would be preferred.

Probably the best would be a reliable back-lit GPS unit.

Bob Hansen/Pathfinder1

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from bberg7794 8/23/2011 at 10:51am

Like DSM said, there is a lot of tape in the woods. All this tape on our public lands is litter and technically it is against the law to leave anything in public hunting areas overnight. If ones is truly lost then yes, if you have some tape, use it to help people find you, but if you don't have a marker to leave a message on the tape it is going to be difficult for the searchers because of all the tape left in the woods.

Trappers often use a small amount of tape to mark where they have a trap, but they aren't leaving trails of it to each trap in my experience. Hunters use way too much tape.

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from DSMbirddog 8/23/2011 at 08:15am

I used to hunt on a public area in WI. By the time deer season opened there was so much surveyor's tape in the timber that I don't know how anyone would find their way. My problem with surveyor's tape is that no one seems to understand that you should take it down when you are done.

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from DSMbirddog 8/23/2011 at 08:15am

I used to hunt on a public area in WI. By the time deer season opened there was so much surveyor's tape in the timber that I don't know how anyone would find their way. My problem with surveyor's tape is that no one seems to understand that you should take it down when you are done.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 8/23/2011 at 10:51am

Like DSM said, there is a lot of tape in the woods. All this tape on our public lands is litter and technically it is against the law to leave anything in public hunting areas overnight. If ones is truly lost then yes, if you have some tape, use it to help people find you, but if you don't have a marker to leave a message on the tape it is going to be difficult for the searchers because of all the tape left in the woods.

Trappers often use a small amount of tape to mark where they have a trap, but they aren't leaving trails of it to each trap in my experience. Hunters use way too much tape.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 8/23/2011 at 12:13pm

Smaller pieces of tape could be used, as could tape of a "unique" color. Also, there are now available push-pins with reflective beads on the ends. One could also leave a small piece of tape on a tree branch, instead of on a trunk. A small piece of reflective tape could also work.

Naturally, no VISIBLE markings at all would be preferred.

Probably the best would be a reliable back-lit GPS unit.

Bob Hansen/Pathfinder1

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Deepwoods 8/23/2011 at 12:52pm

I got a better idea, learn to read a map and compass. As to hunters that can't do that - I sure don't want to trust them with a weapon!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 8/23/2011 at 12:20pm

Taking your tape down is an excellent idea. But so is politicians taking down their "vote for me" signs. It probably wouldn't happen very often.

But what if these tapes had to have the owner's name and adresse on them? Most trappers have to have their traps tagged with their name and address. How's that for a unique idea?!!!

Bob Hansen/Pathfinder1

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com 8/23/2011 at 02:26pm

drop me off any where I promise I will make it home!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 25-06 guy 8/23/2011 at 08:39pm

I agree a map and a compass will do wonders if you know how yo read them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

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