emergency shelter.
snowy field and bare trees
Scott Falls, Alger County, Michigan
A forest bed of wild leeks
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Basic Survival Skills

How To Blaze A Tree

What is a blaze?

Before learning how to blaze a tree you need to learn what a blaze is.  Quite simply it is an intentional mark that you put on a tree to establish a direction of travel so that you can return or help can follow you.  The marks are either parallel or vertical to the ground.  The traditional way is to cut the bark away leaving a scar on the tree that can be easily seen.  Only use this method for blazing a tree when all other methods have been exhausted.  Today, blazing is done with paint or flag tape depending on how permanent you want the blaze to be.  .

To blaze a tree in the traditional way, the proper tools will make the task easier.  Quality equipment is essential to a well-rounded survival kit.
How to place your mark:
Put your back to a tree while facing the direction you wish to go.
Turn around and, with a knife or axe, remove the bark revealing the lighter colored wood beneath.
Put your back to this tree and pick out another tree about a hundred or so feet away and walk directly to it.
Mark this tree as you approach it. Always look back and make sure you can see the last tree you marked.
Now go to the other side of this tree and mark it again as you did the first one.
Now pick another and go to it repeating the process until you either get to where you want to be or find help along the way.
A good size for a blaze mark is approximately 2 inches by 6 inches.
Where to place the blaze mark on a tree:
Blazes should be made about shoulder height so they are easy to see.
In order to establish an accurate line, you should be able to see the last two marks from the point you are making the third.
If you crest a hill, use a distant landmark to help keep your line straight.
With a working compass, fewer blazes will be necessary as you will only need to see one blaze behind you instead of two.
The distance apart depends on terrain, density of ground cover and whether or not you have binoculars.
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If you come to a large clearing, you can establish the direction you are
headed by arranging sticks or stones
or bending tied grass to indicate the direction to your next blaze.
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If you have any other means of marking your trail, use them first, however, in an emergency situation traditional tree blazing may be a necessary course of action.  Marking a tree with a knife or an axe opens that tree to disease and bugs.  Do not cut a blaze completely around a tree (known as ringing), this will certainly kill the tree.
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