Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Hunting Tip: Use Surveyor's Tape to Mark Downed Birds

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Gun Nuts
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

October 19, 2012

Hunting Tip: Use Surveyor's Tape to Mark Downed Birds

By Phil Bourjaily

Losing my hat convinced me to start bringing surveyor’s tape to the field. I have written before about the importance of marking the spot where gamebirds fall. Even when dogs are present I make the effort to see exactly where birds fall, but when I don’t have a dog along, it becomes very important to mark the spot where a bird hits the ground, stare right at and go straight to it immediately. Usually I will drop my cap at the site of my mark so I have a reference point to search around if I can’t find the bird right away. You start at the mark and make increasingly larger circles around it until you find the bird.

Back to my hat: it was an Avery cap in Buckbrush camo that I was rather fond of. Earlier this season I dropped a dove in some standing corn. I went straight to it and hung the hat on a cornstalk as a marker. Bad idea. While I eventually found the dove I never did find my hat again, which I guess is some kind of endorsement of the camo pattern.

Given the choice between losing a dove and losing a hat, I’ll give up the hat anytime. But, there is a better way. Now I pack several strips of surveyor’s tape in my pocket. The bright orange tape is easy to easy to see. You can wrap it around a branch or cornstalk or you can tie one end to a big washer to give it some weight if you wanted to.

There isn’t a dove in this picture but there could be.They turn invisible when they fall in the stubble. Once this season I shot a dove, marked the spot, looked and looked for it and never found it. We fetched a dog (Springerman3’s Pete) and turned him loose at the mark. He picked the dove up right away. It had fallen about five feet from the tape but I had never seen it.

Comments (25)

Top Rated
All Comments
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Ah the virtues of a well trained retriever,,,

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Two other tips:

I always play with my dogs using my hat. If it blows off they run to pick it up. I have also left it in the field and they have found it.

Mark the spot where you shot at the bird. Don't take your eyes off where it fell. But before walking to that spot, reach in your pocket, pull off a strip of ribbon (that's what it's called, not tape - I was a surveyor for USFS for several years in my youth), and either throw it on the ground or tie it on something. This can easily be done without taking eyes off the spot where the bird fell. May not be as important dove hunting where a person stands in the same place all the time and shoots but for pheasants or jump shooting ducks, it's a very good rule to follow. If you don't find the downed bird you may need to return to the spot where you shot and take bearings all over.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Also, leaving ribbon at the spot where the shot was taken is a very important rule for big game hunting! When you get to the spot where you thought the deer fell and can't find it, hang a piece of ribbon and return to the spot where the shots were taken and see if you were looking in the right place.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

RES, where the hell have you been? Oh, that's right ... football season. Stupid me!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Incidentally, "surveyor's tape" is also known as "chain." It's a metal 100 foot tape that is collected in a figure eight shape and "thrown" into the round circle for storage. I was extremely curious as to how one would make use of a surveyor's chain for bird hunting. Most antler addicts aren't even that picky about measuring how far away their big game falls. :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Good idea. I go to the extremes, and hate to lose a bird. I drop my hat, but more, markings would be better, and I would do it before I dropped my hat if I had tape with me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

OH --
Great addition about marking the spot where you stood when you made the shot. Knowing where you were when you shot can be a big help in reestablishing a mark.

Around here we do call the orange ribbon "surveyor's tape" though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

You could just wear an orange hat. What I don't like about surveyors tape is hunters are reluctant to pick it up afterwards. Toilet paper also would work, and then it doesn't matter if you leave it out there...it'll biodegrade.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Actually, the flagging/ribbon/tape breaks down rather quickly. It usually won't make it through one good hot summer without crumbling to pieces. And squirrels seem to have an affinity for it as well. Not sure how much harm it does them but the world is not terribly short on squirrels as far as I can tell.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Years ago Orvis made an orange covered washer with an orange tape tail. I still have one or two left somewhere, but I've since changed over to a length of the orange tape tied to a metal nut. I keep several,in case I need to go back. Just drop it or toss it like a Football coachs red flag. The nut anchor wokrs better on windy days. Hell,Phil ought to tie one to his cap. ;)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

OHH - But until it breaks down it's viewed as trash left behind by hunters. See what I'm getting at here?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crowman wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

They have biodegradable marking tape that goes away after a few rains. Found it in a survey shop.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

FYI, I always pick them up. I'm not just leaving them. It works on airwashed cripples until they've dropped more scent, or when you return for big game tracking. The bio sounds good on the surface, but may encourage the lazy not to make sure they pick it back up. For the record, I've have several for years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Try orange crepe paper, It is on sale now because it is near halloween. Cheap and biodegradable. The only time I use pastic is for a more permenant marker, but always ask permission from the land owner before using it

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

A couple comments on surveyor tape/ribbon, which I have used while hunting for decades. Hunters are indeed reluctant to pick it up after using. When we had our ranch in Montana each Spring, after the thaw, I could fill a saddle bag with the orange stuff while riding horseback along our border with the Wilderness, which also says something as to the tapes biodegradability. Elk hunters should care more about how they leave the habitat before rushing home to brag about their accomplishments.

Ontario, I too surveyed for the Forest Service during college summers. Kindest Regards

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Rod, that tip about using pieces of ribbon tied to screw nuts (as opposed to the other ones in your pants) is really great. Someone send that fella a hat or something. I don't leave my ribbon in the field. In fact, I rarely use it at all. Happy, the flagging they used back in our day wasn't nearly as self-destructible as the newer stuff. I have seen some of that old stuff still hanging in the bush fifteen years after the road was constructed. Used to be we could get flagging in many different colors - green, blue, yellow, even several hues of candy-stripe. I haven't been able to find anything but pink or orange fluorescent for years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I should add that flagging left by hunters has decreased significantly with the advent of backtracking GPS units. And these days virtually no one takes the time and effort to hack blazes as breadcrumbs like in the old days. There are some advantages to technocrap innovations.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I told Phil with my ample supply of cheap mesh orange hats i would start bringing 2 or 3 in my bag to use. Pete is only 13 months old but has proven to be pretty good so far at retrieving. We shot his first grouse in Wisconsin last Tuesday ( on his first flush to boot )
I hope all of you are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Toilet paper is quite useful, marking "spots", emergency lens paper, absorbent pressure pad for minor cuts and nicks, wiping you "nose", etc., etc. I keep a half roll in a zip-loc bag in my hunting pouches/bags/backpack.
Like that magic credit card, "I never leave home without it"!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Surveyors tape is good for marking lots of things. I use it for marking distances when bowhunting out of a stand, bloodtrails, mock scapes, and a bunch of other things.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Thanks for all of the good tips on the use of the ribbon, er ah, tape. Another benefit is that when used as a range marker, it also serves as a wind indicator. Plus, the fluttering tape help keeps me awake.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Thought I was going to need the tape yesterday. My young lab pointed a hunkered down rooster, and it flew straight at me. Too excited, I made two bad angle shoots with the bird coming at me, then turned, and dumped it going away, and a fairly long shot with my lt. wt. Benelli, 20 ga. auto. My young lab found it in high grass after searching for awhile.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I use surveyor flags. little orange (any color) on a plastic stick. When done I can pick them up and reuse them. They don't take up much room in the game pouch. I also use the for distance from my deer blind. I range the area place the flags and when a deer comes in I already know the distance!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I couldn't find any colored tape, BUT, found a red bag with a draw string that I put in my loose shell pocket that will keep them from falling out, and I can use the draw string to put over something to mark a spot. Thanks for the idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

In Texas we just throw our red or yaller bandana down! ;)

Also, it's useful to have a hunting companion, who is off to the side a few yards, visually mark a line where the bird fell for a cross reference.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

You could just wear an orange hat. What I don't like about surveyors tape is hunters are reluctant to pick it up afterwards. Toilet paper also would work, and then it doesn't matter if you leave it out there...it'll biodegrade.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

A couple comments on surveyor tape/ribbon, which I have used while hunting for decades. Hunters are indeed reluctant to pick it up after using. When we had our ranch in Montana each Spring, after the thaw, I could fill a saddle bag with the orange stuff while riding horseback along our border with the Wilderness, which also says something as to the tapes biodegradability. Elk hunters should care more about how they leave the habitat before rushing home to brag about their accomplishments.

Ontario, I too surveyed for the Forest Service during college summers. Kindest Regards

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Ah the virtues of a well trained retriever,,,

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Two other tips:

I always play with my dogs using my hat. If it blows off they run to pick it up. I have also left it in the field and they have found it.

Mark the spot where you shot at the bird. Don't take your eyes off where it fell. But before walking to that spot, reach in your pocket, pull off a strip of ribbon (that's what it's called, not tape - I was a surveyor for USFS for several years in my youth), and either throw it on the ground or tie it on something. This can easily be done without taking eyes off the spot where the bird fell. May not be as important dove hunting where a person stands in the same place all the time and shoots but for pheasants or jump shooting ducks, it's a very good rule to follow. If you don't find the downed bird you may need to return to the spot where you shot and take bearings all over.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Also, leaving ribbon at the spot where the shot was taken is a very important rule for big game hunting! When you get to the spot where you thought the deer fell and can't find it, hang a piece of ribbon and return to the spot where the shots were taken and see if you were looking in the right place.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

RES, where the hell have you been? Oh, that's right ... football season. Stupid me!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Incidentally, "surveyor's tape" is also known as "chain." It's a metal 100 foot tape that is collected in a figure eight shape and "thrown" into the round circle for storage. I was extremely curious as to how one would make use of a surveyor's chain for bird hunting. Most antler addicts aren't even that picky about measuring how far away their big game falls. :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Good idea. I go to the extremes, and hate to lose a bird. I drop my hat, but more, markings would be better, and I would do it before I dropped my hat if I had tape with me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

OH --
Great addition about marking the spot where you stood when you made the shot. Knowing where you were when you shot can be a big help in reestablishing a mark.

Around here we do call the orange ribbon "surveyor's tape" though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Actually, the flagging/ribbon/tape breaks down rather quickly. It usually won't make it through one good hot summer without crumbling to pieces. And squirrels seem to have an affinity for it as well. Not sure how much harm it does them but the world is not terribly short on squirrels as far as I can tell.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Years ago Orvis made an orange covered washer with an orange tape tail. I still have one or two left somewhere, but I've since changed over to a length of the orange tape tied to a metal nut. I keep several,in case I need to go back. Just drop it or toss it like a Football coachs red flag. The nut anchor wokrs better on windy days. Hell,Phil ought to tie one to his cap. ;)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

OHH - But until it breaks down it's viewed as trash left behind by hunters. See what I'm getting at here?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crowman wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

They have biodegradable marking tape that goes away after a few rains. Found it in a survey shop.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

FYI, I always pick them up. I'm not just leaving them. It works on airwashed cripples until they've dropped more scent, or when you return for big game tracking. The bio sounds good on the surface, but may encourage the lazy not to make sure they pick it back up. For the record, I've have several for years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Try orange crepe paper, It is on sale now because it is near halloween. Cheap and biodegradable. The only time I use pastic is for a more permenant marker, but always ask permission from the land owner before using it

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Rod, that tip about using pieces of ribbon tied to screw nuts (as opposed to the other ones in your pants) is really great. Someone send that fella a hat or something. I don't leave my ribbon in the field. In fact, I rarely use it at all. Happy, the flagging they used back in our day wasn't nearly as self-destructible as the newer stuff. I have seen some of that old stuff still hanging in the bush fifteen years after the road was constructed. Used to be we could get flagging in many different colors - green, blue, yellow, even several hues of candy-stripe. I haven't been able to find anything but pink or orange fluorescent for years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I should add that flagging left by hunters has decreased significantly with the advent of backtracking GPS units. And these days virtually no one takes the time and effort to hack blazes as breadcrumbs like in the old days. There are some advantages to technocrap innovations.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I told Phil with my ample supply of cheap mesh orange hats i would start bringing 2 or 3 in my bag to use. Pete is only 13 months old but has proven to be pretty good so far at retrieving. We shot his first grouse in Wisconsin last Tuesday ( on his first flush to boot )
I hope all of you are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors !

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Toilet paper is quite useful, marking "spots", emergency lens paper, absorbent pressure pad for minor cuts and nicks, wiping you "nose", etc., etc. I keep a half roll in a zip-loc bag in my hunting pouches/bags/backpack.
Like that magic credit card, "I never leave home without it"!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Surveyors tape is good for marking lots of things. I use it for marking distances when bowhunting out of a stand, bloodtrails, mock scapes, and a bunch of other things.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Thanks for all of the good tips on the use of the ribbon, er ah, tape. Another benefit is that when used as a range marker, it also serves as a wind indicator. Plus, the fluttering tape help keeps me awake.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Thought I was going to need the tape yesterday. My young lab pointed a hunkered down rooster, and it flew straight at me. Too excited, I made two bad angle shoots with the bird coming at me, then turned, and dumped it going away, and a fairly long shot with my lt. wt. Benelli, 20 ga. auto. My young lab found it in high grass after searching for awhile.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I use surveyor flags. little orange (any color) on a plastic stick. When done I can pick them up and reuse them. They don't take up much room in the game pouch. I also use the for distance from my deer blind. I range the area place the flags and when a deer comes in I already know the distance!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

I couldn't find any colored tape, BUT, found a red bag with a draw string that I put in my loose shell pocket that will keep them from falling out, and I can use the draw string to put over something to mark a spot. Thanks for the idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

In Texas we just throw our red or yaller bandana down! ;)

Also, it's useful to have a hunting companion, who is off to the side a few yards, visually mark a line where the bird fell for a cross reference.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

bmxbiz-fs