The Complete Outdoorsman

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Field & Stream Online Editors

Skill #46 Steer by the sky
As long as you know what direction you need to travel in to reach safety, you can get your bearings from the sun and stars. To find directions in daylight, drive a stick into the ground and mark the end of its shadow with a stone. Wait 20 minutes and mark the new position with another. A line drawn from the first stone through the second will point east. (This works best near midday.) For nighttime help, face the North Star and drive a stick into the ground. Back up 20 feet and drive in a second stick, lining up the two to point toward the North Star. A line drawn through the sticks will point north.

Skill #47 Find your way with a map and compass
To take a bearing on a distant landmark, hold the compass at eye level with the direction-of-travel arrow pointed at the target. Keeping the compass perfectly still, turn the housing until the magnetic arrow lies within the lines of the orienting arrow. Read the bearing in degrees at the base of the direction-of-travel arrow.

To plot a course on a map, use a straight edge to draw a line between your position on the map and the destination of your hike. Align one of the long edges of the compass baseplate with the line you have penciled. Turn the compass dial until the N and the S on the face align with a north-south line on the map (ignore the magnetic needle). Read the course you want to travel at the base of the direction-of-travel arrow.

To navigate, you must be able to walk a straight line. To avoid drifting off course, keep two objects lined up along your path in the distance. Before reaching the first, line up a third object.

Skill #48 Get Unlost without a map or compass
The moment you feel that you're lost, stop walking. Establish home base by fixing a strip from your shirt or hunting vest to a tree. Never leave this spot again without marking a trail, so you can return or enable searchers to follow you. Climb to a vantage point. If you can spot a familiar landmark, use your ability to keep to a straight course to reach it. If you know that a river, power line, or road lies somewhere to the north of you, or at any other point of the compass, determine the direction to walk with the sun or stars. Failing that, follow a ridgeline or watercourse to a lower elevation, where you are reasonably certain of hitting a road.

In flat country, walk a right-angle grid pattern to intercept a road or stream, making each leg twice as long as the last.

**Skill #49 Get a truck unstuck **
Put weight over the drive tires-buddies on the bumpers, logs in the bed. Use just enough throttle for forward momentum. Rock back and forth, and do not spin tires. If that doesn't work, reduce tire air pressure to 18¿¿¿20 psi and repeat the process. If you're still stuck, jack up the tires and lay down a layer of rocks, branches, floor mats, even spare clothing-anything that will increase traction.

** Skill #50 Ford a river**
Look before you leap. Current moves most swiftly where a stream narrows, so try crossing at a wider, shallower spot. Scout the far shore to make sure you can clamber to safety-no slick mud banks or bluffs. Unhook hip belts and loosen shoulder straps on packs in case you'll need to jettison your load before going into the drink. Cut a shoulder-high staff or break out the trekking poles, and remove your socks and insoles. Wet shoes are better than wet everything. Lace your boots firmly, then cross the stream diagonally, moving sideways like a crab and slightly downstream, yielding to the current. Nice and easy keeps you upright. Move only one point of contact at a time: Plant your staff, take a step, plant your staff, take another.