People have been tracking animals long before we had orbiting satellites to assist us, but the space-age technology of GPS can still help you step up the age-old tradition of hunting to a whole new level.
Traditional hunters who treasure their escape from technology may scoff at the thought of bringing an additional gadget on their trip, but they might reconsider if they knew what a difference a GPS unit could make.
Won’t Get Lost
To express the obvious first, GPS is often crucial in keeping a hunter from getting lost. Plenty of hunters have gotten tunnel vision chasing quarry and lost their bearings. Tag the coordinates of your car or camp before you head out, and you’re granted a clear path back at the end of the trip. You might even tag your stand or blind to ensure you don’t lose it after tracking a fallen animal. After all, you may bag a nice buck, but that’s not much good if you don’t know what direction to start carrying it.
A GPS can also be a great tool for discovering features on a map where animals might be hiding. A traditional map might not show a small watering hole or other area that could be your next honey hole. These details, present on GPS features like Garmin’s BirdsEye imagery, are often lacking on a paper map.
You can even download maps specific to hunting purposes. A detailed satellite image map can help determine a land’s precise qualities far better than a paper map. For example, you can get a better gauge of timber growth, helping you determine where to scout, set up your treestand, or where to plan your stalking route.
Marking Hot Spots
You can also use your GPS unit to mark areas your already know are potentially great hunting areas. If you see a rut scrape or another sign, or spot an ideal game animal, you can flag those coordinates to ensure you spend more time there going forward. On your next scouting or hunting trip, you can simply press a few buttons to save locations, saving you the time of stopping to orient yourselves to landmarks and mark them on a paper map.
GPS also helps keep you legal and safe, ensuring you don’t stray into private land if you’re only hunting public, or vice versa. Some GPS units not only show hunting property boundaries, but whether they are owned by a private individual, the county, the state, or by the federal government. As a testament to their reliability, many wildlife officers will often consult their own GPS when checking licenses, property use permission and game limits.
More from Wide Open Spaces:
Many GPS units also contain additional features besides global positioning, including providing weather alerts, predicting times of peak animal activity, or even doubling as a walkie-talkie to communicate with your hunting party. There are several units that contain features designed specifically for hunters, such as hunting calendars and start times and boundary alerts to keep you on the intended property. And of course, they’re decked out in all patterns of camouflage.
This isn’t to suggest that GPS is a be-all and end-all replacement for solid navigating skills. After all, you won’t always get a solid satellite signal in the woods, and nothing is more reliable than a good compass, a paper map and practiced orienteering skills, and they work without batteries.
However, GPS technology makes a fantastic tool for succeeding in finding animals and a great fallback if you lose your way. On top of it, they’re increasingly affordable and dependable, and throwing one in your hunting pack could give you peace of mind and the ability to focus more on how to find a trophy buck, and less on how you’ll find your way home.