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Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

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Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

Old 11-17-2006, 07:38 AM
  #1  
Nontypical Buck
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Default Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

In short, don't trust the GPS unit.

Last night as I was tracking a deer, I was using my GPS unit to mark blood spots. I have a backpack on my back 25lbs, A coleman propaen lantern in my hand, a GPS unit, a 9mm on my hip and finally I find a 3yr old doe that I shot about 150 yards from where she was shot in small timbers. So you can only see 5-7 yards at a time. I tell the GPS unit to take me back and it I start following the direction. After about 50 yards or so I realize that GPS unit is acting really strange sending me in all directions. After dragging this very large deer, the lantern and all my crap I realized I was lost. The temperature had dropped 10 degrees (32 degrees)since I started tracking I was covered in sweat. I had no moon. I didn't even know the general direction to head because I trusted my gps unit and I've been hunting here for years.

I ended up walking away from the deer several times looking for a way out. I would drag the deer a ways and the walk around. Drag then look etc... I gave myself another 1/2 hour to find my way out or I was going to abandon the deer.

I don't how I did it because I honestly wasn't following any kind of trail or anything but I ended up on a dirt path that I recognized about a quarter mile from camp. Even while on the path heading back to camp the GPS unit was telling me to go the other way. I'm pissed.

I will NEVER head into the woods again without using a compass which I carry two of and I might start using some kind of string to track deer. Not sure on the tracking thing.

I was so exhausted that I couldn't even lift the deer to get it in the back of the truck. I had to hug it and throw myself in. I'm just glad it worked out.

Tom
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:11 AM
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

Dont know if its possible or not but could your GPS just need a new calibration or something? I agree about not going out without a compass though. Congrats on the deer... Did you get it back to camp ok?
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:18 AM
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

I typically hunt an area that has paved roads on two sides a state park on the other two. Been going to the same area for years and know every trail and logging road. Last year a very heavy fog settled in while I sitting in the tree. I got down and decided to head in for lunch. It was astounding on how disoriented I became in the fog. At one point I swore that the lake was on my left when it appeared to my right. I actually tried to convince myself that there was an "undiscovered" lake in the woods. Eventually I stumbled onto the logging road and knew precisely where I was. The experience was unnerving to say the least - especially in woods that I know so well.
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:34 AM
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

What GPS do you have? I always use one of my GPS units and they have never failed me. Although I usally have a prety good sense of direction so I rarely need them. Some GPS units you have to be moving for the compass to work correctly and others will work while standing still. If you have a Garmin with the built in compass all you have to do to calibrate it is go to the menu page and calibrate compass and turn around two times.

From the story it sounds like you have a unit that the compass only works when you are moving. Or the unit really screwed up. Glad you made it out ok!
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:42 AM
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

GPS have occasional hiccups, but i bet you werent getting good enough signal from enough satellites. There are about 25 satellites in the sky that GPS's will use to triangulate. The GPS needs atleast 3 signals to triangulate correctly. My guess is you were surronded by something that was disturbing the signal, so it was getting confused.

Take the GPS into a more open area and use it again to see how it works.
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:43 AM
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

I have a gps but use my compass for bearings ,I had to use it 3 times in new country in ill. this year .Never leave the truck tell you get a bearing and carry a map.the flatter the country the harder it is when it gets dark or foggy.The compass never lied to me but I have douted it many times ,that isuntil it got me back.I do not think I would be alive if it was not for my compass.I love to get lost ,in a way.
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Old 11-17-2006, 09:14 AM
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

I have noticed the same thing on my etrek...It will not update as long as you are setting still. Sometimes you have to walk 5 to 10 yards for it to fiugure it exactly where you are at and the direction you are heading. I have had the same trouble dragging a deer with gps...You are not really moving in a straight enough line and fast enough for the gps to update correctly..I normally start walking until it updates and get the genearal direction...then use my compass to keep on that heading for a good ways then refer back to gps..
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Old 11-17-2006, 10:02 AM
  #8  
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

I have a Magellen. The blue one. It does have a real time compass and I did calibrate it when I started hunting the day before. It had 7 satellites at the time. Maybe I should have stopped and recalibrated it but I was a bit nervous at the time. With the temperature falling I just wanted to get out of there. I wouldn't say I lost my nerve but I definetly wasn't my usual calm self.

It will be a while before I trust it again. I'm going to just switch over to a compass and use the gps unit as a test.

I did get the deer back to camp but I had to chop down two trees that had fallen across the road after I came back with my truck. I was totally exhausted and couldn't drag the deer the quater mile back to camp. I should have because I left in on the side of the path and couldn't find it. I had to walk the path with a flashlight. I should have marked the road with a branch or something. I guess it wasn't the highest thing on my list at the time.

Tom
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Old 11-17-2006, 10:05 AM
  #9  
 
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

A GPS isn't a compass. It has no idea whichdirection you are facing. The only effective way to use one is in conjunction with a compass. Your experience is very common mistake.
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Old 11-17-2006, 10:13 AM
  #10  
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Default RE: Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Compass

Actualy some GPS have built in compasses. So some are and some are not. Like I said you have to be moving for some of them to work right. I am not familiar with the magellan's enough to coment on them. I used to work for Garmin though so I know alot about them.

I think the most imprtant thing to do is stay calm. The one time I got turned around and didn't know which way I was heading I just stopped and sat down for a couple of minutes. Then I heard the sound of a train in the distance and I knew which way to go after that.
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