2013 Skills #10 and #11 – Land Navigation & Tracking

2013 Skills #10 and #11 – Land Navigation & Tracking

Yesterday I moved out of the house and into the outdoors when I discussed the first two of four Outdoor Skills that I want to learn or master as part of the 13Skills.com 13-in-13 Challenge.  Today, I finish up the list of Outdoor skills I want to tackle when I talk about Land Navigation and Tracking.

Knowledge Base

You might remember that yesterday I mentioned that I was in Boy Scouts when I was younger.  Well, during that time, I got pretty good using a map and compass.  But, much like with my camping and fire-making skills, the years away from the outdoors have definitely dulled my abilities.  The introduction of handheld GPS equipment has also diminished the need for map and compass skills.  I definitely need to be able to navigate in the woods without a GPS.  You never know when your GPS is going to give up the ghost – dead batteries, water ingress and damage due to dropping it are all very real possibilities.

In addition to being a Scout when I grew up, I also grew up on a lake and was an avid fisherman – mostly largemouth bass for anyone interested.  Many fishermen are also hunters, but that wasn’t the case in my family.  I never hunted and never learned to track animals in the woods.  Hunting is not something I plan on getting into any time soon, but it’s not something I’m opposed to.  In fact, getting my own turkey for Thanksgiving or a fresh deer would be an incredible way to feed the family.  Tracking also provides the ability to help find folks who have gone lost in the wilderness.

The Plan

So, both of these skills have the common requirement of being out in the woods.  And there’s really no place I’d rather be.  Land navigation, or orienteering, will be accomplished by setting up a series of hikes where I rely solely on a map and compass (GPS will be carried for emergency backup).  Tracking is going to be a harder skill to learn.  I don’t know anyone who hunts although I do know friends of friends who may be interested in teaching me tracking skills.  I’ll read up a lot on how to track and use websites (I bet there’s a decent amount of information on YouTube) to build my knowledge base.  Bottom line is that each one of these skills really needs practice in real-world scenarios to learn and gain comfort with.

Measurable Goals

In order to gauge my completion of these skill sets, I plan to achieve the following goals:

  • Plan and execute 3-mile hike using only map and compass by April 1, 2013
  • Plan and execute 5-mile hike using only map and compass by April 1, 2013
  • Research tracking by May 1, 2013
  • Enter the woods and attempt to track an animal (probably deer) by June 1, 2013
  • Possible Goal: Participate in a hunt (deer or turkey, most likely) by November 1, 2013

These goals are, unfortunately, a little vague and bland.  Both of these skills are an accumulation of effort and not necessarily an accumulation of milestones hit.  Each skill requires a lot of time in the woods and I look forward to spending my time there during 2013.

Tomorrow I finish up my introduction of the thirteen skills I want to tackle in 2013 when I talk about some Protection skills I want to learn.

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photo credit: ressaure via photopin cc

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