At a quick glance, smart phones in a natural setting seem out of place. Seeing a person with their nose-in a smart phone while out in the woods may turn up the nose of the traditional outdoorsman. But should it? While our phones may seemingly detract from the outdoor experience, at this point, our mobile devices are no longer just a way to call one another. Research from the National Wildlife Federation shows that more than “80 percent of families consume electronic media or social media as a major part of their daily routines and that over 99 percent of families in the U.S. regularly use some form of electronic media.”
Today, our mobile devices are information lifelines. Don’t know something? Google it. Need to navigate to public hunting lands? There is an app for that. Need some insider fishing information? There’s an app for that, too.
Here’s a list of five apps that have the potential to enhance the hunting and fishing experience.
Best app for hunting navigation.
While this GPS mapping app isn’t free, it is worth it, especially when planning a hunt in an unfamiliar area. One key feature is the ability to see public land as well as private land ownership. This is valuable information to have in case 1.) a hunter would like to ask permission to hunt or retrieve game on private land and 2.) to know exact boundaries when hunting public land. Another awesome feature is offline maps. Personally, I used this feature last fall while hunting pronghorn on public land in South Dakota. Service was very limited and, being unfamiliar with the area, having the maps pre-loaded was a lifesaver along with the ability to mark way points and “honey holes” to come back to.
When signing up, there is an option to pick which state a user would like to purchase or the option to buy all 50 states. Price: $29.99 per year for one state or $99.99 for all 50 states.
Best app for new hunters and anglers looking for mentorship or seasoned outdoorsmen looking to mentor new hunters.
PowderHook is an app that has been around for a few years but is really picking up steam. It combines the digital experience with real-life hunting and fishing events, public land access information, and mentorship. The point of the app is to connect novice hunters with mentors from leading brands and organizations. A user can join the app as someone hoping to learn, a mentee or, they can take a course to become a mentor. Within the app, mentees can ask questions in “camp discussions” and mentors of that specific topic would be there to answer. Looking to learn how to grouse hunt? There is a camp for that. A handy map also shows where mentors are located in your area and their expertise. Price: Free
Best app for local fishing intel.
FishAngler was surprising. Normally anglers aren’t so willing to share their honey holes with perfect strangers but, within FishAngler, that is exactly the case. The purpose of the app is to connect with other anglers, keep track of fishing successes and share photos and experiences with anglers in your area. The interactive maps show where other anglers have caught fish, when, what species, and sometimes there is even a photo or two. Key features include a fishing logbook, seven-day weather forecast, newsfeed of anglers within the app, and fishing reports. Price: Free
Best offline app for outdoor survival.
SAS Survival is less of an app and more of a digitized resource of valuable survival information. Need help identifying birds, plants, or basic first aid? SAS survival has you covered. The app is actually a digital version of the Ultimate SAS Survival book by John ‘Loft’ Wiseman.
The best part? It can be used offline in the most remote places. That said, while technology can be great, it is a limited resource because batteries don’t last forever. If you’re truly trying to survive in the wild for an extended period of time, don’t rely on a mobile device. Price: $5.99
Best social media platform for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.
GoWild is one of the fastest growing social media and activity tracking platforms for outdoors enthusiasts. Unlike other social media platforms that tend to censor hunters or invite cyber bullying, GoWild was created by hunters. It is a space for all outdoor enthusiasts to share their experiences, expertise, learn, and track their activities. A user can track their archery practice, fishing, scouting, hiking, you name it. Photos taken along the way are geotagged and used later on. For example, when scouting for deer, a user could take a photo of a sign and it would then be geotagged to that location for reference later. The app doesn’t share the geographical information with everyone, though, it is only available for that account. A unique feature of the app is their partnership with Garmin. Folks who have Garmin watches can use them to track their activities and heart rate while it also syncs up with the app. Price: Free
Utilizing technology in the outdoors may seem out of place but, could it actually be helping increase participation in outdoor activities by appealing to a younger demographic? While it is easy to see an unnatural glow in the wilderness and think the worst, it also may be time to embrace the fact that technology is, in fact, enhancing the outdoor experience.