I’ve never thought it odd that hunters—people so retro they go to a lot of trouble to kill and clean their own meat—are drawn to the latest advances in guns, bows and navigation products. I’m guessing the first hunter to knap a stone thought it a pretty good thing he could cut meat without his teeth. When Native Americans got their hands on guns they tossed away their bows. When camo companies gave us a pattern for every environment we shed our U.S. Army fatigues. But perhaps I’m starting to go too far; you see, some of these scouting tools are prompting me to snoop on the neighbors.
The Nosiest Scouting Tool Ever OnXmaps’ Hunt is mapping software for Garmin’s GPS units. Okay, digital mapping products have been around a while, but this one shows public and private property boundaries with landowner names included. You can see the public/private boundaries clearly, as they’re shown as different colors. The names of landowners appear along the inside line of their property boundaries. Getting access to properties has always meant finding the landowner. The thing is determining who owns a piece of land isn’t always an obvious thing. Looking up landowner names in a county land office isn’t so simple in my area. With this tool, however, I could drive around, find good-looking deer habitat, pull over and use the software to get the landowner’s name. I could then use my iPhone to search whitepages.com for their address. My auto’s GPS could then take me right to their doorstep so I could ask for hunting permission. What got me into a little trouble is that more than a few wanted to know how I found their names—many don’t know the records have always been public. When I showed them the GPS, only a few didn’t kick me right off their property. Though one generous landowner did give me access to bowhunt her 40 acres. The software doesn’t always work though. The product is only as perfect as the land records and all the states aren’t yet available. Download available state’s maps for $109.99 here.
If You Believe in This Sort of Thing A lot of deer-behavior studies show calendars that use the moon and other factors to predict buck movement to be about as true as weather predictions in a Farmer’s Almanac. The photoperiod (the amount of sunlight in the day) is the only factor that has been proven to predict the timing of the whitetail rut. Hunt Predictor, however, uses the weather to forecast your hunting success. It’s an app that uses an algorithm based on seven weather variables to determine the best times to hunt. You can choose between deer, turkey and waterfowl. Just type in your coordinates and it’ll predict your chances of success. Get it here.
Trail-Cam Software For the Overwhelmed If you have a large lease or property—or a lot of small parcels—and have trouble keeping track of the bucks strolling past your trail cams, there’s a new solution for you. HuntForce is photo-management software for trail cameras. It allows you to store photos in the cloud, sort trail-camera pictures into individual profiles of deer and track the best times to wait for a particular buck. Annual plans, which start at $81, can be found here.
For the Me Generation The iHunt Journal app has easy-to-use fields that make it simple to record deer sightings, hunt success and more. When you make enough entries you might begin to see patterns in deer movement and more based on the timing of the rut and other factors. It has good record-keeping tools, a GPS and weather forecasts. Smart Hunter is a journal app specifically designed for waterfowl hunters. It includes waterfowl tips as you add notes to its journal. This app also has a library of duck and goose calls that you can set as reminder alarms and it has how-to videos. Available for 99 cents here.
An App for Deer Drives The ActInNature app can show you right where all your hunting buddies are with GPS coordinates. This can help you keep track of everyone if you push deer or hunt upland birds in large groups, but you’d need a lot of tech-friendly companions to make it work. The app also has sunrise-sunset data, maps and more. Available for free here.
The Most Annoying App Ever The Hunting Season Countdown app is a countdown clock you set for your favorite hunting seasons. You can add a photo, the type of season and then start a countdown. This way whenever you need to remind your spouse your day is coming, you can just pull out your smart phone and show him or her the ticking clock.
Perhaps more useful countdowns (come on, if you need a countdown clock you have issues) are the Pocket Ranger apps. These are available from game/fish departments and other public-land agencies. These apps typically give you state hunting zone maps and notifications of hunting-season openings and closings in a state calendar. Many also have trophy sections, so you can see what the hunters who are dumb enough to disclose their hotspots are tagging.
So Powerful It Can’t be Exported The FLIR Scout TS24 Pro is a high-end, night-vision camera for those who are both well-heeled and deer-crazy. The FLIR Scout TS24 is a thermal night-vision camera that can record from 350 yards away. It can take photos or video. A hunter with one of these could scout fields and more after dark to see what bucks are on his property. Its thermal core detects heat instead of ambient light, so it can actually see through foliage or a light fog. This civilian-grade device is so high-tech its export outside the States is prohibited without special licensing from the U.S. Department of State. It runs on four rechargeable AA batteries.