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How to tell direction without a compass

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  • How to tell direction without a compass

    My friend and I were here at work on a slow day discussing bushcraft skills when I asked him if he could find his direction if he was lost in the woods with no compass. He said no.
    All you have to do is take a short, straight stick ( foot to a foot and a half long ) and stick it in the ground pointed towards the sun to where it doesn't cast a shadow. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, till the stick starts casting a shadow and the shadow will ALWAYS POINT EAST.
    Tried to get some pics, its 90+ degrees here today and its so hazy a shadow won't even show up on a pic, but we could see it good enough to tell which direction it pointed.
    Used this one time in the Marines, my top asked if I learned it from my "grandpa" cause he thought I was a country hick. Actually I learned it watching "Shazaam" on saturday morning tv when I was a kid. Anyone out there remember that show?
    " If you want to live, treat me good " Peter Tosh

  • #2
    You can also use a watch.

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    • #3
      Nice post.
      Yes, I've seen it done with a watch.
      I don't wear a watch though, so You can draw a watch on paper or sand, or dirt, etc.
      I'll keep my guns, freedom, and money... YOU CAN KEEP THE "CHANGE"!

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      • #4
        What if you don't have the sun? Come on Marines let's see what you got?

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        • #5
          I use the Dipper and Caseopia to find Polaris and Scorpius in the south for my night time can-see-the-stars N-S direction fixes.

          Can watch Orion for a few months of the year to get an E-W bearing.
          "If Howdy Doody runs against him, I'm voting for the puppet." - SkyOwl's Wife, 2012

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          • #6
            Snow on the north side of hills during the colder months. Stars at night. Rivers and streams. Roads. Railroad tracks. An improvised compass made from a magnetized needle or piece of snare wire on a leaf floating in water. Run an imaginary line from the cresent tips of the moon to the horizon and that would be South at night.
            Last edited by Stitch; 06-04-2011, 06:52 PM.

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            • #7
              During the cold months we have snow on the south and north slopes, but it tends to be covered with deer beds on the south slopes and a little less snow. Stars at night if you have a clear sky, rivers and streams I'll give you that one, but roads and railroads? I'm a little confused on that one.

              In this area the winds are out of the Nortwest 90% of the time in turn pushing trees into a leaning south-southeast direction. You can also tell by the tree growth during the summer months, they will grow out in more of a southerly direction.

              Are you checking for road signs once on a road or stopping someone who is passing by?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Snow Walker View Post
                Are you checking for road signs once on a road or stopping someone who is passing by?
                Either one would work. If you know the geography around you and know where nearby towns are located that should be a general direction identifier. The railroad tracks not so much for direction, but they will eventually lead you to a populated area. I have gone hiking in the dark and couldn't see the stars, but I could see the city lights. There are very distinct land marks in my AO that I generally use for navigation.

                When I was stationed @ 2/5 one of the company commanders was given the nickname "Capt Wrongway". We were following a road in the Phillipines to the rifle range. There was a huge billboard with an arrow pointing which road to take. I think everyone except him saw it. Then hearing him say over & over at 29 Palms on a night op "I have no idea where we are".
                Last edited by Stitch; 06-04-2011, 07:11 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Stitch View Post
                  Either one would work. If you know the geography around you and know where nearby towns are located that should be a general direction identifier. The railroad tracks not so much for direction, but they will eventually lead you to a populated area. I have gone hiking in the dark and couldn't see the stars, but I could see the city lights. There are very distinct land marks in my AO that I generally use for navigation.
                  When I was stationed @ 2/5 one of the company commanders was given the nickname "Capt Wrongway". We were following a road in the Phillipines to the rifle range. There was a huge billboard with an arrow pointing which road to take. I think everyone except him saw it. Then hearing him say over & over at 29 Palms on a night op "I have no idea where we are".
                  LMAO, that's a good one I wouldn't expect anything less from an officer!

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                  • #10
                    The watch thing in daylight is simple,if the sun is out.
                    Point the hour hand at the sun,half way between 12 and the hour hand is South.Close enough for government work.

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                    • #11
                      I've tried the watch trick, the stick trick and using the stars before.
                      They all work really well. The only thing I had to do was mark the direction shown by the stars for morning and repeat the other methods every hour or so to maintain s steady course. This also gives you a new reference point to head for. And chance to rehydrate.
                      All great methods.

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                      • #12
                        Just an Update I was out side on the ship pushing a broom around (its a regular thing out to sea) and the stick trick works out to sea also if my GPS is to be belived
                        NONSOLIS RADIOS SEDIOUIS FULMINA MITTO

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                        • #13
                          Sego:

                          New member here.

                          I found one I didi not know about; the cresent moon if a line drawn from rim point to rim point it then points downward to the south in the northen hem.

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                          • #14
                            Anyone else looking at the trees? Never been lost so long as I'm not blind. ;)

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                            • #15
                              Very good info. The way I tell direction in a shtf situation is, if I see or hear a large group of people I do not know or hear gun fire or explosions, I go the opposite direction.

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