Cool Backwoods Living Skills

Discussion in 'Camping/Outdoor Living' started by cookiecache, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    Here's a great way to use your watch as a compass. You will need a watch with hands and a view of the sun. Instructions are for the Northern hemisphere - reverse for Southern

    Start by pointing the small hand (hour hand) at the sun. It might be easier to take the watch off of your wrist. Now South is halfway between the hour hand and 12:00. For example, if the hour hand is pointing at 3:00, then South is at 1:30. The trick is the remember that morning hours have South between before noon. Afternoon mesurements will be on the hours after noon. Supppose it is 6:00. If 6:00 AM, then South is at 9:00 AM. But, if it is 6:00 PM then South is at 3:00 PM. Let's say it is 8:00 PM. Where is South on the watch face? South is a 4:00. Don't just use the side that is closest!

    Personally, I have had days when this little bit of information would have saved me a lot of time and aggravation.
    Cashtwenty2 and rollingalong like this.
  2. Ashalicious

    Ashalicious Senior Member

    I don't wear a watch though....haven't worn one in years....
    1 person likes this.
  3. rollingalong

    rollingalong young at heart Lifetime Supporter HipForums Supporter

    interesting fact op....thanks

    ash....a display on your smart phone of the clockface will also work

    and don't have a clock face memorised?....all you need is the time within 15 minutesish and you can guess the other words use a pretend watch :)
    cookiecache likes this.
  4. I'minmyunderwear

    I'minmyunderwear voice of sexy

    i assume it varies depending on your location and the time of year... i don't know how much though, this would probably give at least a general idea no matter what. interesting trick.
    cookiecache likes this.
  5. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    This works anywhere any time. I have used this method from Mexico to Nothern Alaska. There are slight errors caused by adjustments like Daylight Savings Time, and it can be a little complicated when using near the equator at noon because the sun is simply straight up. But, really all one needs is to know is, the position of the sun, the time of day, an understanding of a clock face, and this method will work everywhere.
  6. S&L

    S&L Member

    All nice and good!
    Spend $ 60 and buy a good SiIva Ranger compas, one where you can adjus tthe declination.
    The right use of it is a worth-wile backwoods skill!
    cookiecache likes this.
  7. Varmint

    Varmint Member

    S&L said, in relevant part:
    "Spend $ 60 and buy a good SiIva Ranger compass, one where you can adjus tthe declination."

    My response:
    I've had one of these for years which I bought new....around $30 back then, and since got another for about $5 at a flea market. There are any number of lensatic compasses that will work quite nicely, and some can be had cheap, as in the $5 one I got mroe recently. The price seems to be the only difference I've found in any of these, and that includes the heavy metalic ones used in the 80's by the USMC, the plastic copies, aluminum ones, open lensatics, etc. I fine-tune mine to the North Star, also known as Polaris.

    I still believe that a good compass, and the skill to use it, are priceless backups today in the event of natural disasters. There's no guarantee that the satellite constellation we depend on won't get burned by some cosmic mishap, nor are batteries guaranteed in the future.
    cookiecache likes this.
  8. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    I also own a Silva Ranger compass, but it does not work if I just imagine I have it in my hand. This trick only needs the user to imagine that they have a watch.

    Okay, next trick. Birch Bark is one of the greatest fire starter's ever! Take a piece of birch bark and dip it into water, go ahead, just dunk it in the creek. Now hold a match to it. Surprise, it still burns great! The pitch in the bark makes it completely waterproof (think birch bark canoe). If there are birch trees around, then fire building becomes very easy. It's fast and simple to peel a few layers off the outside of the tree, and it burns whether it is green, seasoned, wet, or dry.
    1 person likes this.
  9. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    Fire building tip: When camping near a river or lake it can be hard to find dry firewood. This can be especially true when it is raining or foggy. The wood on the side away from the river or lake is often much dryer, and will burn more easily than wood from the water side. I search the uphill side of trees checking for attached, but dead and dry branches. This is one of those things that seems like it should just be common sense, but when people are cold and wet, brain function is diminished.
  10. Aerianne

    Aerianne Crazy Cat Lady Staff Member Super Moderator

    Also, the inside of a log will often be dry when the outside is wet.
    cookiecache likes this.
  11. tikoo

    tikoo Senior Member

    Make glue from pine sap and charcoal .
    2 people like this.
  12. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    A little backwoods medicine. Charcoal is good for relief from stomach ache. Do NOT use store bought charcoal! Never eat store bought charcoal. Make your own charcoal from willow, maple, fruit tree wood or other non-toxic types of wood. The charcoal neutralizes the stomach acids.

    To make the charcoal, simply place finger sized pieces of wood in a small metal box, then place in camp fire or inside woodstove for a few hours. (Box needs a couple of small vent holes in lid.). Grind into powder before use.

    To use simply eat about one tablespoon of charcoal powder. It does not taste good, but will give relief very quickly.
  13. Aerianne

    Aerianne Crazy Cat Lady Staff Member Super Moderator

    It's also good to carry small pieces of that charcoal in a tin. They catch a spark really well when starting a fire with a ferro rod and striker. And make some char cloth in that little tin too, for catching a spark. Just put a little piece of cotton in the tin and make it like the charcoal.
    cookiecache likes this.
  14. tikoo

    tikoo Senior Member

    Layers of crushed charcoal , fine sand , courser sand , gravel : this is the principle of backwoods water-filtering .
    Charcoal is at the bottom of the container .
    cookiecache and Aerianne like this.
  15. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    GPS is an amazing advance in navigation. Let's go over the basics.

    Super basic usage of GPS is the unit in your car that uses voice commands to direct your travel. Use is simply listening to the voice and using a little common sense will get you to a street address nearly anywhere roads will take you. GPS is much more versatile, and with skilled use can solve a vast array of survey and navigation challenges.

    Let's say that you need to find the corner of grandpa's old homestead. If the corner is surveyed and plotted, then a map with GIS data should be available online. Most parts of the US have GIS mapping in some form. CAUTION: Google Earth is inaccurate in its GIS data, do NOT use Google Earth for navigation data as the error rate is typically at least 500 meters. Tax maps and geological survey maps are usually good.

    Test your data source. Pick a place you can locate exactly on both the map and on the ground (For example, the corner of your house, a stop sign, corner of a bridge etc.). Get the location from the map and input to your GPS. Now, at the location determine the amount of error. Let's say that your GPS says the corner of your house is .24 miles West. This would be a DATUM error. Your GPS is not set to the same DATUM as your source map. Most of the USA government maps use NAD 83, except Alaska which uses NAD 27. If the error is less than 50ft (13 meters) then all is well.

    So, back to search for that corner marker. Load the map location into your GPS. Make sure the GPS is NOT set for road or trail navigation. Go to the location following the GPS directions. Since you tested your GPS accuracy, you know how close the corner should be to you GPS location. COOL TIP! Use two people with two GPS units to correct the error. One person goes to a known location near the target. Using their GPS, they give you the error at the exact moment you are searching. The GPS error will be about the same for two near points at the same moment. This can save a lot of work if you are searching through thorn bushes, poison ivy, or such. The super expensive survey GPS units use this method to correct to +- 2mm. Note that the error changes from moment to moment. To make a correction, the readings must be taken at the same time.

    That's my introduction to GPS Navigation. More to come as there is a lot to say about how to use these handy tools. Please post your comments and tips!
  16. tikoo

    tikoo Senior Member

    Backwoods neighbors . When contemplating a shared border without GPS , have a talk . There may be an
    issue when collecting firewood or constructing a goat fence or spreading rumors .
  17. cookiecache

    cookiecache Member

    Never suffer from sleeping on cold ground again! Here's the trick that will keep you warm and toasty. Get a piece of Reflectix to place under your bed. This looks like bubble wrap with a shiny silver surface (Mylar). It can be bought cheap at most big box stores in rolls 24 inches or 48 inches wide. A piece 24 inches wide is just right for under your sleeping pad. When you lay a pad and sleeping bag over the Refletix and lay on it, in less than 2 minutes you will feel warming on the bottom side. The bubble wrap even helps make your bed softer.

    The other cold weather trick everyone needs to know is using a Styrofoam seat in your outhouse. Styrofoam does not conduct heat, so it will not feel cold to the touch no matter the outside temperature. I tested this while living in Fairbanks Alaska, and it works at minus 40.

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