4 Top Apps for Hunting to Increase Your Skills

If If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you, "Aaron Hepler is no techy," and it would be true! In today's tech world, the waters have been muddied. There's a tug-of-war taking place on the woodsman versus tech side of things. But things on the market can make a difference to your skills. Sometimes, technology enhances woodsmanship without overtaking it. 

1. Hunt-Mapping GPS

This one is no secret that hunt mapping apps are the gateway to more efficient hunting. If there is something that can build more skills in a hunter, it is a map. Apps that can turn a phone into a mobile GPS contribute to more buck kills than any piece of gear out there. 

Over the last several years, there's been a noticeable difference in the comfort of getting far from the truck. A Penn State study published in the fall of 2021 noted less hunting pressure 500 or more yards from a point of access. Read it Penn State Deer Study. One can't help but wonder how the study would turn out today with e-scouting apps. Would it find that hunters choose to go further?

There are plenty of available apps, and you will have to do some testing to find the one you like the most. OnX Hunt is a favorite in the market, but other brands like Spartan Forge exist. If you want to hear a review of mobile hunting apps, listen to  episode #46 of the Deer Gear Podcast.

2. Weather

I often get frustrated and say that if I did my job (as a critical care nurse) like a weatherman, there would be a lot of dead people. But sometimes, they get it right or at least close. Weather prediction is one of the foundations of planning a hunt. You need to know what the weather is doing to predict where your best opportunity will occur. 

The wind is crucial and will dictate where you should sit. Which only sometimes means keeping it completely in your favor. Sometimes you have to give a little leeway to a smart buck. 

Apps like Accuweather, CARROT, or Weather Underground are some of the best. Some of the mobile hunting apps also have the local weather forecast.

3. Plant ID

Most of us would benefit from a woodsman's ability to ID plants. Why do plants matter so much? Well, for starters, deer eat almost all of them. But knowing which they prefer first versus last is helpful. 

Many hunters can tell the difference between white and red oak trees, but that's often all they know. I'm no expert, and in the past, I've just googled different tree or plant names until I found a match. There is now a better way to learn in the field. Of course, you could pack a book. Owning one and reading it in your spare time is a good idea. But on trips afield, it's hard to beat an app like PictureThis or Seek by iNaturalist.

Knowing your plants can lead you to a better understanding of deer food, bedding, and cover. All of which are things that a deer needs.

4. SOS with External Device

This one comes with an added expense and it can get pricey. It's worth the talk because we all have hunting zones that don't have cell service. More importantly we all want a safety net if we get into trouble.

There are now budget friendly SOS devices that use Bluetooth to pair with your phone. Most of them will rival any big name competitors. Some of them are basic and can send pre-set check-in texts. Others function as a solo SOS device if you break your phone and can send unlimited texts and location pings. 

I personally used a Zoleo device this season on a wilderness elk hunt in Northern Colorado. Compared to the competition, it stood up to the test. All texts and pings made it home without fail. Other devices like this work well, such as a Bivy Stick.

The cost of the device and plans make these devices worth their weight, and being able to pair them with your phone makes outside contact easy.

In Summary

It may seem odd to pair techy things with the raw skill it takes to be a woodsman. But today, we have some easy ways to learn a few things that just plain work.

In hunting, there are no magic tricks. No secret hacks that will create a better hunter than the next. There are just tools to complement the skills you already possess and are learning to master. 



Author: Aaron Hepler, Exodus Black Hat Team Member