Lines and Boundaries
More lessons for the handler than the dog.
Assuming you’re not going to dump me in the middle of the desert with nothing but dunes and mirages for as far as the eye can see, I’m pretty comfortable getting around with a topo map and a compass. Even more so if it’s a recent topo map and a compass bigger than a button. So when someone sets up a griding sector we’ve never been to before I think literally nothing of it. It’s just another day at training where we wander through the woods trying not to fall all over ourselves and put Grom in the best possible place to make his little discovery.
Because he and I are in the middle of our testing process we use every opportunity to practice the skills we’re going to need, not only on a test, but in a real search. So the problem was set up like a light brush test, and everything about it was a dress rehearsal for the actual test we’d be running soon. Most importantly was getting an area topo map, defining our sector, and developing our strategy. Rarely do we get to respond to a search in an area we know well, so making sense of our surroundings quickly becomes a real asset. This is the map of the area, with the redzone being the new sector. The blue line indicating my plan, and incidentally what I thought I did at the time.
So we set out along the road on the south side of the sector, which I have determined in 200 meters to the west end where my unmarked boundary should run along a drainage. This is the boundary I have chosen to work first since it’s an easy shot almost due north to the stream, which is my north most boundary. It should be a simple task of counting 120 steps and then turning north.
Looking for a drainage
When I get to 119 steps I look around and realize I don’t see a drainage to my right. In fact what I see to my right is flat, wide, and open. But if I walk another 30 paces, there’s a nice drainage right beside it. Simply put, I think it’s a good thing my counting ability is not being tested because I would have failed that part.
But if you look at the GPS track that recorded my path, as well as the path of two other people who worked the same sector, you’ll notice we all overshot the boundary. One of those tracks was actually recorded by the person who was looking at the GPS as he was walking the line, and even he missed the boundary.
It did not turn out to be a huge issue in this case. Even though we were out of our sector, and technically didn’t know where we were at the time, all the dogs were able to put their noses on the subject. So it didn’t affect the outcome of the problem, but it did point out a couple of things for me. Not least of which is that this is how you get holes in your grid pattern.
More importantly though, I need to put a little more trust in my pace count. Even having a GPS will not always put you exactly where you want to be. Also, If you go looking for a terrain feature, you will find it. But it, and consequently you, may not be where you think you need to be.
Sit! Staaaaaaaaayyyy. Wait for it. Good Boy!
(The second half of this post will be posted later)
This entry was posted on May 3, 2011 at 08:47 and is filed under howto, pets, Rescue Training, Search and Rescue with tags backpacking, compass, land navigation, map, orienteering, outdoors, pets, search and rescue training, survival. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.