For the past few decades, a favorite activity of mine after a day afield has been coming home to kick back with a couple beers and a tattered old spiral notebook to journal my day in the great outdoors. When I was younger this activity would include sketching crude maps and marking various game sightings hoping some new revelation about where the deer were hiding would reveal itself. Nowadays I pull from my head visions, senses and emotions I felt while perched 20ft up or sitting in a ground blind waiting for my quarry. I enjoy skimming through these various ramblings throughout the year when I cant be out and about. This year required a different approach. One that until now, I had been reluctant to try.
Previously I had hunted the same two pieces of property for 38 years. The landowner passed away and the heirs to my hunting paradise had no interest in letting anyone continue to hunt the property. Luckily, I stumbled onto a new piece of property of about 100 acres that a few friends and myself were lucky enough to obtain with a five-year lease. The six of us hunted the property the first year seeing plenty of deer but only one of us was lucky enough to harvest a deer. Knowing that this property held a good population of deer and that I didn’t have another 38 years to figure out what the deer were doing, I decided to take the plunge and try a hunting app on my phone with the hope of increasing my odds for success. For my purposes I chose the free app Hunt Stand for my I Phone and set out one day in late February to document the meanderings of the resident deer population. While the snow fell the night before, I spent some time with the app to set up the property boundaries, parking areas and some stand locations from memory. The app is impressive with icons for pinning just about anything you could possibly encounter while out hunting. I felt like it was opening day eve the night before I went out mapping the property. Sleep was hard to come by and I couldn’t wait to get out and get all the trails, sightings and sign pinned to the overhead satellite view of our property. I spent the better part of the following day walking around marking stand sights, trails, rubs, scrapes, feeding areas, bedding areas; anything I stumbled on relating to deer went on the map. The fresh layer of snow revealed a ton of new information I hadn’t picked up in several earlier scouting trips and now it was all on the map. As you may have figured that map of my 100 acres got a bit crowded with all those icons but by zooming out a bit and using the apps convenient layering features I could customize the view to see only what I wanted. If I just wanted to see stand locations and sign it was as simple as checking the corresponding layering boxes and Boom – the patterns began to emerge. I was kicking myself for waiting so long to embrace this technology. I felt like a kid discovering a new video game. I couldn’t wait to get home and view the customized map on a large screen laptop. Having the ability to overlay deer sign and sightings on an overhead satellite photo of your hunting property is quite revealing! Within ten minutes of analyzing the map, I knew I needed to move the locations of my tree stands. The patterns and funnels jumped off the screen! Next season would not get here fast enough.
Hunt Stand has handy land management tools as well. The app allows a limited number of land parcel views that give boundaries, size and ownership information of bordering properties or any other property you may be interested in. I am the person in charge of organizing the guys hunting this property and using the Hunt Stand App I was able to get the guys signed up in the App and send them all custom maps showing boundaries and stand locations making management of the property a breeze. Another helpful feature in the app is the ability to easily measure the distance between any two points on the map. We have a safety rule that no stand or blind can be within 100 yards of another and checking distance between stands is easy and accurate. Yet another fantastic management tool Hunt Stand provides is real-time tracking of any of the guys that are signed into the App. If signed in, their current locations show on the map. This feature makes sure that no one gets disturbed and if someone needs help recovering a deer or gets injured we all know where to find each other. Hunt Stand also has separate tabs to keep track of the Weather, Moon Phases and even shows your how your scent will disperse downwind from your chosen hunting location at a given time now or a few days from now!
Even if you have been hunting the same property for several years I recommend downloading this FREE user-friendly App on your phone and computer. Have fun navigating and using the tools and features too numerous to mention here and rediscover your favorite hunting areas. Chances are you will improve your odds, see more game and have the ability to review and “visit” your favorite spots year-round from wherever you want!