Much more than a watch, the Garmin fēnix® 5 can be the ultimate tool in safety and efficiency during hunting season.
It does much more than just tell time. The Garmin fēnix® 5 has the kind of features perfect for the active lifestyle. For runners, bikers, hikers, swimmers, and more, the watch will push you farther and work you harder, all while keeping a detailed data log and monitoring your body.
I thought that would be great, if only I was one of those types of people. Unfortunately, I’m not. I’m not a fan of running, even though I do enjoy a little hiking. I haven’t swam since I was last pushed off the dock at the lake house.
I am a deer hunter. A deer hunter who wanted a new watch, but wanted the functionality of a Garmin GPS. I’ve grown to trust the brand and depend on Garmin for fishing and hunting alike, and I thought to myself, ‘Could the Garmin fēnix 5 be beneficial to a deer hunter?
The answer is yes, and here is how I figured that out.
1. Coordinates for Mapping
I used the “Save Location” feature on the Garmin fēnix 5, and was able to save the longitude and latitude coordinates of my location. This has been extremely helpful with my after-the-fact mapping and reviewing. Once I am home, I will go through my saved coordinates and place them on the map for precise accuracy.
I quickly realized that items like treestand locations, trail cameras, bedding areas, buck rubs, and scrapes are all worth saving. I named them on my watch and added them to my map. This saved me time in the field from having to manually enter all the data on my phone. With a quick push of a button, my location is saved and I am moving on to the next location.
2. Phone-Free Messages
I didn’t even know I liked reading texts on my wrist until I was in the treestand.
I hunt both solo and with a team, and often find myself in plenty of group chats. Normally, message after message causes me to go back and forth in my pocket, reaching for my phone. Of course, that creates movement and distracts me from hunting. Next thing you know I see a notification, and I wind up on Facebook or Instagram.
Here’s how valuable it really was. I had a doe coming into range on opening weekend. The guys were busy texting away, and luckily they were all being sent to my watch.
I sat and read my messages as they came in, without having to do anything more than glance down at my wrist.
One of the messages reported that my father had just shot a velvet eight point buck. I was super excited, but I had a deer making her way to my stand. The messages of congratulations buzzed away with silent vibrations on my wrist, but I was able to smile knowing I could still get a shot off.
I harvested the doe and was able to congratulate my father just afterwards.
Now, in this case, I don’t know if the watch helped me shoot that deer, but here’s what I realized: I would have been worried if I got ten or so messages on my phone, vibrating away in my pocket. I probably would have made the decision to risk looking at my phone, possibly ruining my chance at the deer. I would have been worried something was wrong, or that I was missing something super important.
Since I had the Garmin fēnix 5, I was able to read the messages without ever moving. It saved on getting busted in the stand, and also saved my battery life, considering I never used my phone.
3. The Sun and Moon
It’s not as if you can’t get these from the newspaper, or even your cell phone. Do you need the watch to tell you what time the sun will rise and set? No, of course not. But you can actually take things one more step ahead, and the fēnix 5 makes it easy.
I decided to set up an alarm ten minutes before the sun sets. If I get caught up in a spot and stalk or lose track of time, I’m acutely aware of the sun setting, so as not to stray away from legal hunting hours.
Here’s why that’s extra important for a traveling hunter like myself. When I hunt in New York, legal shooting hours are sunrise to sunset, as they are in many states. But I also hunt in Maryland, where you can legally harvest game 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset.
If I get an alarm with ten minutes left, it tells me I have limited time to get the job done.
I also like to keep an eye out for the moon phase, so I can correlate the moon phase with the information I gather on my trail cameras and upload to DeerLab. Overall, it’s important for me to have all the information I need in order to be successful in the deer woods, and the fēnix 5 continues to prove itself.
4. GPS Tracking
I normally use a GPS or my phone to track my whereabouts while I’m hunting. The problem with using my phone is that I often drain the battery fairly quickly. I really, truly thought that it’d be great to just put my phone away when I head into the woods, and only get it out for pictures after I harvest a deer.
The fēnix 5 has a built-in GPS, which I’ve used to track my trails to a few of my properties. I have also used the “Follow Me” feature when I began tracking a deer my buddy had shot. We were able to use the mapping system to get a better idea of where the deer was headed once we lost blood and we were able to find that deer the next morning.
When I’m hunting in the mountains, it becomes even more valuable. I often lose phone service, and now I can rely on the Garmin fēnix 5 to track and display my course.
5. Weather Updates
This is another feature that you can get easily. But again, when we rely so heavily on our phones, we end up draining our battery and wind up with a dead phone when we need it most.
The weather app on the fēnix 5 gives me the daily, hourly, and weekly forecast. From this, I can look for drops in cold temperatures, be prepared for bad weather, and dress accordingly for the hunt. Many hunters know they spend more time checking the weather than their text messages come hunting season.
Too many people don’t bother carrying a compass in the woods with them. I believe this to be crazy, but add the fēnix 5, and you’re covered.
The compass feature does not need an internet connection, like some compass apps on your phone. It also uses decimal bearing to provide detailed direction, as well as cardinal bearing to give you a quick way of expressing general direction to others. Just another tool you don’t have to purchase or carry when you have the Garmin fēnix 5.
7. Hunt and Fish Times
I am a hunter who hunts based on my own findings. I stay true to the weather, barometric pressure, moon phase, and scouting information I’ve gathered. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t monitor the hunt and fish times that the Garmin fēnix 5 offers.
The app on the fēnix 5 offers you the best times of both the morning and evening using their own algorithms and measurements. You’d like to think those are reliable, and if you aren’t someone who studies the conditions as much as I do, referencing these quick pieces of advice can really come in handy.
This is definitely a tool that the eastern flatland whitetail hunters may not be able to appreciate. But this is vital for the Western elk hunter who spends their time in the mountains.
Elk and deer browse and graze different foods at different times of the year. These food sources often correlate with the altitudes. Understanding your altitude in the mountains is vital to success.
9. Track Hunting Dogs
I have a beagle who I love to take rabbit hunting. One thing I don’t enjoy is having to constantly keep an eye on my handheld GPS while we are hunting. He has only ran off one time, but thankfully I had my GPS and dog collar on him.
Hunting with the dog this rabbit season has changed significantly with the Garmin fēnix 5. I can just look down on my watch and see where my dog, as well as my buddy’s dogs are. The Garmin fēnix 5 can connect to the dog collar, putting all that information onto my wrist.
10. Tell Time
Hey at the end of the day it’s a watch. It can tell you the time without having to take your phone out constantly to keep an eye on it. Just like a cell phone now a days is forgotten that it is used to make phone calls with, don’t let a watch forget that it allows you to tell time.
Here’s the bottom line.
Wearables from Garmin are sophisticated technological tools, which means they’re expensive.
The Garmin fēnix 5 has an MSRP at $599.99. There is no doubt that it may be the most expensive watch you’ve ever owned. But in reality, I quickly found out I would be saving money in the long run.
I needed an upgrade on my handheld GPS, and I also have been wanting to get a nice, functional watch. I wanted one that could help me monitor my health, keep me updated with information, and do it with a style that didn’t say I’m a gym rat or a flashy jewelry guy.
Today, GPS units are quite expensive on their own, but not much more expensive than the Garmin fēnix 5. Ultimately, I was able to own a GPS that was capable of getting me the things I needed, and do it in the form of a watch.
I killed two proverbial birds with one stone, and actually could count several more extra pieces of equipment I’ve now avoided having to buy, based on the list up above.
I have gone swimming, climbed into mountainous regions, flown, been in temperatures well below zero, and used this watch in ways I never thought I would. It has never failed me.
It is rugged, tough and looks great. If you’re a hunter in the market for a new watch or GPS, I highly recommend the fēnix 5.