By Montana Grant

Posted: April 16, 2022

Many outdoorsmen no longer wear a watch. If they do, its digital and not numbered. Others rely on their cell phones. That’s fine until you are out of cell signal range. A regular hour and secondhand watch make for quick time estimation. You can visually see when the sunset time is. At a campsite, you can make a sundial to time your activities. With a digital watch, you need to do some mental math to figure how long until sunset.

Legal hunting and fishing times are important to know. If you are off just a few minutes, you could end up with a ticket for shooting too early or late. If you in the back country and have some ground to cover, you better know when to begin heading back to camp.

On a September elk bow hunt, we had trekked deep into the high country. Every time we were ready to head back, another bull would bugle and beckon us deeper into the forests. Around 2 o’clock, one bull finally came close enough to get a shot off. His time had come. Now we had to quarter the bull and trek back to camp. Shuttling elk meat means 6-7 100-pound bags. Backtracking takes time.

The sun was setting into the western horizon, and we were still 3 miles from camp. No one had a watch and cell phone signals were nonexistent. It was time to use Finger Time!

I placed my hand up toward the western sky. My little finger sat on the horizon and the rest were stacked up to the sun. Each finger counted for 15 minutes of time. We had 3 fingers before sunset!

There was no way we were going to make it out in daylight. Hauling meat at night can be dangerous and we were already whipped. We hung the meat bags in a tree, and all took turn whizzing around the perimeter. A couple sweaty t-shirts were draped in the tree as well. Each of us carried what we could and beelined toward the closest fire road. We hit the road at sunset, exactly per my time estimate. Now it was an easy trek back to camp. The next day we would collect the remaining meat sacks.

Finger time is not as good as an accurate Timex watch, but in a pinch, you can guesstimate the time reasonably accurately.

Finger it out!

Montana Grant

New Podcast!