With today’s modern advances in GPS, along with what our smart phones are capable of, there is little chance of getting lost or too turned around as long as you have a signal. Regardless of this very reliable technology I never leave the truck without flagging tape and glow sticks. Having a supply of these Dollar Store items with you will make life a lot easier when the need comes along. Very seldom does a hunting season go by without me using one or both of these items.
Having flagging tape when on a blood trail is one best tools you can have. We have all been on those not-so-easy-to-follow trails. The flagging tape allows me to mark all the spots where I find blood. It’s peace of mind during a pretty tense time to always know the last spot you found a solid track or speck of blood. Often in this scenario you may lose the trail but having the last spot marked you can go back to it and regroup and begin the search again. I will mark often as this will provide a trail that you can visually see which gives you a pattern and sense of direction the animal is going.
If you happen to find yourself trailing in the dark, glow sticks can be used in the same matter, only I use a just a couple and keep bumping them forward to keep up with each spot I find. Blood trailing of any kind can be stressful but at night under headlamps only magnifies it. Being able to look back and see the last sighting is very comforting and that security keeps you focused at the task at hand.
Once you have recovered your animal both items can come in a handy again. Depending on your set up you may have to hike out to get a pack frame, or in the case of an elk make multiple trips to recover your kill. In either case I like to flag my way out, so my return trip is like walking down the sidewalk. If this is taking place during the dark I won’t necessarily glow stick my entire path but leave one obviously at the recovery site and then one here and there at specific locations that will aide in me getting back to the truck. Spots where I need to make a turn or hit ridgeline are spots this works well. And trust me when you’re by yourself with a long pack ahead of you in the dark, it’s comforting to see a glow stick up ahead as you grind along.
If you’re in wide-open terrain hunting desert mule deer or on the breaks of the Snake River hunting sheep this may not be necessary. But if your hunting most places in the West there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in some dark timber or dense brush, so thick a GPS can’t even get a signal. In these moments, the flagging tape and glow sticks are a handy piece of equipment.
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