Flagging tape could be one of the most important tools in your pack. You can mark the spot where you dropped your pack for a stalk, where you stood when you shot, where the animal was standing when it was hit, and the location of blood. If you’ve ever followed a faint blood trail and struggled to pick up the next clue, you know how effective it can be to look back and see three or four ribbons marking the known direction of travel. However, do you really need a full roll? It’s bulky in my pack, and it can be considered heavy when backpack hunting in the backcountry. So here is what I do to convert a full roll, as shown below, into the smaller rolls shown in the second photo.

I find that ¼” dowels work best. Cut about 4 inches of dowel and chuck it up into a drill. Start the flagging on the dowel and keep tension while transferring the tape from the larger roll. It takes a steady hand at first to not end up with a mess. I found that smaller rolls 1 ¼” to 1 ½” in diameter will hold about 30 feet of ribbon. Once you have transferred the desired amount of flagging tape, put some adhesive tape onto it to prevent unraveling. Take side cutters and trim the longer end of the dowel. I find that just a couple small rolls in my pack will do the trick, and their size seems more manageable when I’m focused on a trail.

I would like to remind my fellow outdoorsmen and women to remove all flagging once you are finished. It might be a pain coming out with the last load, and having to wander a bit to retrieve your flagging, but we all appreciate a clean forest.

Editor’s Note: Rob is the host of The Stickbow Chronicles podcast. Look for it on Libsyn, iTunes, Podbean or Stitcher.