What type of survival strategies do you have in place for making navigation an easier ordeal in a SHTF situation? Does your bug out gear have maps, a compass, waterproof clear plastic protectors and a log book? Do you know how to use ranger beads in conjunction with pace counts to determine how far you may have traveled in a given direction? Have you packed surveyor’s tape to mark the path you have chosen in case you need to backtrack? Have you ever heard of using a shadow stick as a back-up plan in case any or all of these other items are inoperable?
Using a shadow stick is a survival skill that could help you get back to civilization, provided the proper conditions are met. A shadow stick is not something that can be used in all locations, or at all hours of the day. It is called a shadow stick for a reason; it has to use the sun to cast a shadow across a flat patch of earth.
“Pretty much every one knows that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. But many people don’t know how you can use a stick and it’s shadow to help you determine general cardinal direction (North, South, East and West) if you were ever lost in the wilderness. If you were stranded without a compass, you could use the Stick and Shadow Method to help you navigate in a specific direction, assuming you knew which direction you needed to travel.”
The shadow stick is not unlike using a sun dial to determine what time of day it is. The shadow stick is a very primitive method of discovering general directions. This method will not give you true magnetic north, but rather a well-informed opinion of where celestial north lies, which cannot be determined during the daylight hours. In other words, the shadow stick strategy will allow you to determine where the North Star would be if it were night out.
“The Stick and Shadow Method is relatively simple, but it does take about 20 or 30 mins of time to complete for accurate results and you need a good view of a sunny sky and a fairly flat and level place to set it up. So the Stick and Shadow Method isn’t the fastest method and most practical method of finding cardinal direction in all conditions and in all situations, but it can be useful. Keeping a small compass on your person or in your gear is always better and more reliable than the Stick and Shadow. But if you have nothing else this might be able to help.”
The shadow stick method of finding cardinal directions is not something that you would want to use to plot journeys over enormous distances, as maps are generally aligned with magnetic north, rather than celestial north. Over a longer journey, the degrees of difference present in using the shadow stick method, compared to a magnetic north reading compass, will expand exponentially and result in you arriving at a point considerably off course.
The shadow stick method should be used in conjunction with maps and pit stops along the way to make necessary adjustments based on where you find yourself on the map in comparison to where you thought you were headed. The video below depicts the proper method of using a shadow stick to find your way out of the wild.
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