Night Nose!




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Night Eyes
Night Ears
Night Nose!
Night Hiking
Night Stalking
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Lights & Rockets
Training Games
Nature By Night
Telling Time by Stars
Night Photography
From Writer to Reader

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By K. Graham Thomson

"Nosey" is the nickname we give to blokes who are inquisitive and are always wanting to find out things, often things that are not their business at all. But if a detective, or an explorer, always minded his own business, he would not do much good, would he ?

There are times when it is wrong to be nosey, but there are other times when it is right and it is just up to you to decide which is which, when something odd catches your notice.

A Scout's nose needs to be trained to make it a useful, if not an ornamental, organ. Civilized people have lost a good deal of the keen sense of smell that our primitive ancestors had, and animals still have; so our noses need training, and if we go about it the right way we can soon greatly improve the keenness of our sense of smell.

Quoting once more what the Chief says about night work in Scouting for Boys, remember:

If you are watching for an enemy at night, you have to trust much more to your ears than to your eyes, and also to your nose, for a Scout who is well practiced at smelling , out things . . . can often smell an enemy a good distance away. I have done it many times myself, and found it of the greatest value.

We have already talked about the use of eyes and ears in Night Scouting, so here goes for the nose.

The first thing to remember is always to breathe through it. The Chief said:

A Scout must be able to smell well, in order to find his enemy by night. If he always breathes through the nose, and not through the mouth, this helps him considerably.

He also said:

At night, if you are in the habit of breathing through the nose, it prevents snoring, and snoring is a dangerous thing if you are sleeping anywhere in an enemy's country.

Scout's Nose

A simple game for starting nose-training is called "Scout's Nose." One of you prepares a number of bags, each of which contains something that has a scent, or a stink : tea, coffee, cheese (old), thyme, sage, lemon, orange, carnation, onion, etc.

Then each player takes a good sniff at each in turn, and tries to write down, or remember in order, the names of the things. Each bag must be numbered, of course. (Go easy with the pepper !)

For outdoors at night, the Chief has given us another good game, called "The Escaped Smoker " .

Escaped Smoker

Borrow a man who smokes, to be an escaped convict who is known to have bought or stolen some cigarettes and matches, and to be trying to make his way through your wood.

Scouts surround the wood and then move in towards its center, trying to catch the convict. He must keep a lighted cigarette in full view all the time, and strike a match every three minutes, while he tries to escape from the wood, or cross it.

Country Smells

When you are hiking at night, you and your Patrol or your pal, or you by yourself, if you are not frightened of the dark any more, will find all sorts of curious smells making your nose twitch. All scents seem stronger after sunset ; or perhaps it is only the fact that our eyes are of less use in the dark that makes us more attentive to what our other senses tell us. We have noted the same thing in regard to our sense of hearing ; we can hear more keenly with our eyes shut.

Some scents really are stronger at night ; some wild flowers, and some garden flowers, too, like night-scented stock, give off their scent only at night, to attract moths.

Other country smells that may be useful for finding your position or your way are the pig-sty, cow-shed, or haystack, smells that reveal a farm to the nose; wood smoke or peat-reek, indicating a dwelling or a camp ; and the scents of different flowering plants, if you have observed their location during the daytime in relation to your objective.

A bean field in flower gives off a strong scent, which may be a useful clue to your whereabouts. Yellow gorse has its scent. May blossom in the early summer is delightful, and carries a long way.

Learn, as you hike along at night, to distinguish these and other scents from each other so that you can identify each wherever you are. South American trackers can find their way by night by smelling the grass. Many skippers of fishing boats can tell just where they are by smelling the mud and sand brought up by their nets from the sea bed.

By daylight observation and frequent evening practice you should have an equally intimate knowledge of your own country neighborhood. Perhaps town Scouts can find their way about if blindfolded at night by the scents of the different fried-fish shops ! Anyway, if they can get out into the country, they can soon learn the various country smells ; and even in a town they can make good use of an onion, in the following game

Chasing the Bandits

A bank has been robbed of a bag of gold by two villainous hold-up men, and a reward is offered for their capture. In this case the bag of gold is a bag of apples, and the two villains lay a trail by rubbing a cut onion on gateposts, trees, and so forth.

You will find this an interesting trail to follow; and it's grand to see a Patrol rushing along on a hot scent, pausing at every street corner to smell the walls! The robbers may eat their swag at a certain time if they have not been caught by then. If caught, the swag goes to the captors by way of reward.

Smelling the Dew

At night the dew has its scent, and once you have learned to recognize it you have a valuable means of smelling out an enemy. If you keep to leeward, or down wind, of where you think an enemy may be, and keep sniffing the air, you will come to a place where the scent of the dew is interrupted, a point where you can no longer smell the dew scent. The interruption is caused by a man, and you could come upon him by going straight up-wind along that scentless line.

Other guides to your nose of the presence of people are the scent of tobacco, whether burning in pipe or cigarette, or just being carried in a man's pocket ; the smell of a tramp who has not had a bath or clean clothing lately; and the smell of cooking.

Bushranger's Camp

Tracking by smell at night is a very important part of Scouting. Here is another game for practicing it. Three Bush Rangers have robbed the bank and fled into the bush, where, thinking themselves safe, they light a fire. Unknown to them, however, the townsfolk, seething with anger at the outrage, have engaged some Boy Scout trackers to follow the bad men. The Bush Rangers' fire consists of smoldering brown paper, or damp hay, in a biscuit tin, and the party of trackers have to find their way to the fugitives' camp by following up the smell of the smoke given off.

Town Smells

When mentioning fried-fish shops as tracking clues for town Scouts, I was not merely being funny. As a matter of fact, I have known thick fogs when the smell from a fish shop was like a lighthouse to a sailor in a storm.

If you are walking along a street in a really thick fog-we had one last winter that lasted for a whole week-and you want to find a turning, or a house of a friend, it is useful to be able to tell where you are by the different smells you encounter : fish, greengrocer [produce shop], chemist's, grocery, butcher's shops, and public-houses and underground railway stations, too, all have distinctive odors.

Chapter VIII: Lights and Rockets

Night Scouting






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Peer- Level Topic Links:
Making A Start ] Night Eyes ] Night Ears ] [ Night Nose! ] Night Hiking ] Night Stalking ] Night Signalling ] Night Hike Vision ] Lights & Rockets ] Training Games ] Nature By Night ] Star-Gazing ] Telling Time by Stars ] Night Photography ] Forward ] Acknowledgments ] From Writer to Reader ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.