American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Friday, January 25, 2008

Map and Compass Navigation

I've been working with the kids on their map and compass skills and realized that I too could use some brushing up on an essential skill that is often overlooked until it's a little too late.

Fortunately I've got some topo maps of the area so we can go over the basics and the kids can actually take the map and compass and see precisely what we're talking about.

I give them both notebooks to write down bearings so they have one less thing to worry about if they're ever called upon to navigate.

The basic steps:

Plan your route
Orient the map
Line up your "from" and "to" points with the edge of the compass
Put red in the shed (get the red "N" arrow" pointing North)
Get your bearing

Now you can sight along your bearing (the direction of travel arrow on most compasses) keeping red in the shed and find a landmark on that line. Walk to it. Repeat.

I often fold my maps and put them into gallon Ziplock bags to protect them from water and so I can use a wax pencil to plan a route without mucking up the map.

If land navigation is a topic of interest please let me know and I'll go into more details and try to give you some tips and tricks for finding your way in the wilderness.

Thanks for reading,



At 6:20 PM, Blogger Backyard Bushman said...

I know I for one could really use to pointers on this topic. One of my glaring weaknesses I'm sad to say.

At 6:19 AM, Blogger BrianA said...

Hey Bushman,

One thing you might consider is Terrain Navigator:

It is basically all of the USGS maps scanned in, with a set of tools built around the maps. Even if you don't use the computer tools, the price is well worth getting ALL of the USGS maps for your area. Plus, you can print out as many as you want.

It is also nice to have them in a compact 8.5x11 size. I usually print out varying scales of the area I am in. If it is an area I go to a lot, I will laminate one set (for backup) and then just markup the other with a pencil.

Here is another good site to visit for navigation:


At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is many people every year get lost in the wilderness, due to their lack of knowledge in LAND NAVIGATION skills. BUT, how does one improve on their LAND NAVIGATION skills.

There are outdoor wilderness navigators of various skill levels out there that can use these lessons, to improve their skills and introduce others (beginners and those unfamiliar) into the world of Land Navigation.

The lessons are FREE and informative and can be used to teach yourself and others in the knowledge of "LAND NAVIGATION with MAP and LENSATIC COMPASS".


Very Respectfully,
Jimmy D.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey--American Bushman--remember the BOYDE family--around 1959-60. They were this outdoor, rugged all-American family that was supposed to survive the great American wilderness for a period of time. Thats fine--but when some people hiked into check on them---old Dad was sitting in a chair outside an R.V. watching tv and drinking beer. His wife was inside--with a microwave 'cooking' popcorn. I think you are one of these type of people whom never faced a REAL outdoor adventure. Bushman--sure!!


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