Home Main Category Hunting

Compass, GPS, or both?

tennmiketennmike Senior MemberPosts: 27,457 Senior Member
The getting lost thing in the most scared thread got me to thinking. I've used a good lensatic compass for a long time, and got into the GPS pretty early in their introduction. They are both really handy for finding your way back to where you started, especially if you're hunting fairly flat heavily wooded land. The GPS is really good for that getting back part. You can set them to track your progress so you know how to get back on the same track you came in on, or just take the straight line route back if the terrain allows it. Spare batteries should always be a part of your take-with-you stuff, like TP.
The compass is always helpful getting back even if there are no landmarks available, provided you pay attention to your general direction of travel going in. And like an old guy told me a long time ago, "Look back the way you came occasionally. The woods look different going in than they do when you're coming back out."
  I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
― Douglas Adams
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Replies

  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,842 Senior Member
    Used to use both. My GPS is old and big and slow to make satellite connection. I'm impatient. Now I just use a compass. Been lost before, don't like it. I try to have two compasses.

    Now driving? Forgetaboutit. Im lost, but making good time
    😋
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    I carry a small Garmin GPS in my hunting pack that always gets turned on before I leave the camp and it has never let me down and I have one of those cheap little spherical compasses attached to the zipper of all of my hunting jackets. Those little compasses read regardless of their orientation and they are a handy quick reference of direction.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • jaywaptijaywapti Senior Member Posts: 5,009 Senior Member
    I have had a Garman GPS since they first came out, but only used it once for hunting,  I carry 2 compass, one around my neck , one in my pack, also a pocket altimeter and topo's of the area i'm in. In my younger days i ranged far and wide, got turned around a few times but always found my way out. FWIW i was never lost I always knew what state or provinces i was in.

    JAY 
    THE DEFINITION OF GUN CONTROL IS HITTING THE TARGET WITH YOUR FIRST SHOT
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,673 Senior Member
    Never had the batteries die on my compass....however, a compass does require you to have some idea of where you are...add the appropriate topo map and I'm golden...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • NCFUBARNCFUBAR Senior Member Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    I’m with Jayhawker ... I’m fine with compass and maps but you do need to have some idea where you are. Years back I was taught if I was familiar with a few landmarks I could at least find the stream, railroad, highway, etc to follow out.

    Using a GPS vs Map & Compass is kinda like Automatic vs Stick ... each year that passes drops the percentage of people who know how to use “antiquated” technology. If there is ever an event that takes down technology I pity 2/3rds of society today. Smart stuff is making each generation dumber. I can’t remember who did the study but in the the past 20 years the average IQ has dropped 3% ... I am of the opinion common sense has dropped by 30%.
    “The further a society drifts from truth ... the more it will hate those who speak it."
    - George Orwell
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,673 Senior Member
    And the fact that the most dangerous thing in the world is a 2Lt with a map and compass holds true....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,536 Senior Member
    My screen name came from my ability with map and compass. I used to locate property lines on hunting leases, If I missed a USGS stake by more than 2 feet, it was a bad day.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 24,671 Senior Member
    Now who knows how to determine direction using the sun?
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,842 Senior Member
    zorba said:
    Now who knows how to determine direction using the sun?
    Not me, I wouldn't be able to use the night sky either. Books Ive read about ancient mariners impress me a great deal.
  • CaliFFLCaliFFL Senior Member Posts: 5,486 Senior Member
    zorba said:
    Now who knows how to determine direction using the sun?
    I do but the sun is only up roughly 12 hours, and is concealed by clouds some of the time. I carry a compass and a topo (in the bottom of my pack) but a Garmin is my go to item.  
    When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    Adam J. McCleod


  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 24,671 Senior Member
    Concealed by clouds is OK, as long as a stick in the ground can cast a recognizable shadow. But yea, a good compass is a necessity for back country trekking - but a good charged up Garmin is a lot easier to use!
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Compass and a topo map are good IF there is something to use as a reference that stands above the surroundings. There is a cedar swamp East of the Natchez Trace where there is NOTHING to use for reference with a compass; the area is a huge swamp and flat as a tabletop and a tangle of cedar, scrub pine, willow, and swamp grasses. And forget about walking a straight line unless you're dragging a paddle board with you, because........it's a swamp and you walk where it's the driest and most stable. The compass is just fine for directions, but you have no real idea where you are even with a map. A handheld GPS will give you your position. And in the Land Between the Lakes area on the TN side, the area is filled with herringbone ridges and nothing of prominence for a compass and map to help you. No mountains, and the trees are thick and the canopy overhead blocks the view. The GPS will show you where you are. I've been on hunting trips over there that ended up being searching for someone lost in those herringbone ridges. With map and compass, you can navigate to a road, but not knowing where you are, which road is closest? Without landmarks to navigate by compass, you're sorta screwed on that.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,673 Senior Member
    Now that I think about it a 2Lt with a dead GPS would be world ending...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Jayhawker said:
    Now that I think about it a 2Lt with a dead GPS would be world ending...
    Nah. One of the E-4 Mafia would sell him some AA batteries at a highly inflated price. :D
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 24,671 Senior Member
    ... with a dead battery ...
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • CaliFFLCaliFFL Senior Member Posts: 5,486 Senior Member
    zorba said:
    ... with a dead battery ...
    Carry a portable charger... 
    When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    Adam J. McCleod


  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 26,069 Senior Member
    I have several compasses. I know how to use them. 
    I have several GPS units. I know how to use them. 

    The most used are the various apps on my phone. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 26,069 Senior Member
    Ha!!
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,120 Senior Member
    Where I go, I usually don’t have cell phone service at all. I carry a compass and maps in my pack, but have never used them. GPS for me. And even then, all I really use my gps for is to mark camp and a few points. When I use my ATV to travel to a starting point, I park it, lock it to a tree with a cable, mark the spot on my gps and take off.  I know my way around the area where I hunt, so haven’t been close to getting lost before.  I have had a hard time finding my ATV before though, when I didn’t mark it’s location. 😬 If I do get disoriented, just get the gps out and see where camp or whatever is and head that way. 
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    Both
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    cpj said:
    zorba said:
    ... with a dead battery ...
    Your Garmin runs on......what? 
    I run my Garmin a bit different, I guess.  I fire up the GPS and mark my starting point on the topo map, and then turn it off. I hunt all day (squirrel hunting will get you lost because you're looking for squirrels and not so much at the surroundings) and then fire up the GPS and see where I'm at, and where I need to go to get back where I started on the topo map, and the compass direction. Turn it off again, get out the compass, and follow the direction to go by the compass. If you leave the GPS on the whole time you're hunting, then you're gonna need more batteries.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 24,671 Senior Member
    edited August 2018 #23
    cpj said:
    zorba said:
    ... with a dead battery ...
    Your Garmin runs on......what? 
    It'll run on a pair of AA batteries for a week or more. Your smart fone won't go much beyond a single DAY. The Garmin one-time cost is less than a single month's subscription for the smart fone, and we don't discuss the latter's acquisition cost! HA! :smiley:
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,812 Senior Member
    If I was going somewhere that getting lost would be dangerous, I'd take GPS, compass, and topo map. I have quite a bit of experience using mapping grade GPS, so I understand how it works and don't get too shook up when it fails. There are so many satellites up there now that outages are rare, and you only need about four to get navigational accuracy. I used a compass and USGS maps for decades, so I'm fine with that, too.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 25,004 Senior Member
    A GPS is a great way to go---------a backup compass does not weigh much.
  • Johnny rebJohnny reb Member Posts: 700 Senior Member
    I carry and use both. Gps is nice but it is an electronic device and stuff happens. There's no way I'd take off on a hunt where I was going to be traveling any distance without both.
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 11,755 Senior Member
    I have a Army issued Lensatic Compass with map in my backpack.  Had a Garmin handheld that disappeared in The Ocala National Forrest while looking for hogs
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Diver43 said:
    I have a Army issued Lensatic Compass with map in my backpack.  Had a Garmin handheld that disappeared in The Ocala National Forrest while looking for hogs
    Florida is one of those places that I rely on a GPS more than a compass if I'm in those pine woods. Tabletop flat land, and nothing high enough to use as a reference. But I can go offshore 30 miles, fish all over the place several miles N, S, and W, and then take a compass heading and come pretty close to where I left from. But when I'm headed out, I look back frequently until the shoreline disappears. I have a 'mental map' of the shoreline, even if it's dark. The taller buildings will be outlined by their lights. Just have to sweep the spotlight to keep from hitting one of those danged BIG channel markers! :smiley:
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,702 Senior Member
    edited August 2018 #29
    I'd like to see this Garmin that runs on batteries for a week.  'Cause I've used quite a few, and constant-on, a la a phone, they generally don't last a day, maybe two.  Even with lithium batteries.  Now if you turn it on and off, battery life is kinda moot.  As it is with the phone.  And if you're worried about the phone dying, well, there's battery packs that solve that problem.

    I tend to take a compass and GPS.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    I'd like to see this Garmin that runs on batteries for a week.  'Cause I've used quite a few, and constant-on, a la a phone, they generally don't last a day, maybe two.  Even with lithium batteries.  Now if you turn it on and off, battery life is kinda moot.  As it is with the phone.  And if you're worried about the phone dying, well, there's battery packs that solve that problem.

    I tend to take a compass and GPS.
    The batteries in my Garmin last me about three months. I do the turn it on, get satellite reception, mark a waypoint, and turn it off. Leaving it on and running down the batteries doesn't make sense, to me.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,702 Senior Member
    Agreed.  And you can do the same thing with a phone if you're using it as your GPS in the woods.  Battery life might not be quite as long, but it'll still last you a while.

    And you won't have to worry about folks calling you.
    Overkill is underrated.
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