These days, I have a hard time even remembering how I used to pass the time in a tree stand while waiting for a deer to show up. It was obviously pretty boring because I was never one to take a book up into the tree with me. I’m guessing that the hours must have crawled as slowly as molasses being poured from a jar.
Boy, things sure have changed.
It all started about six years ago when I ventured into the Verizon store to purchase my first smart phone. It was a top-of-the-line Blackberry that did all kinds of amazing things – things that now seem pretty dull by today’s standards.
I could sit some 20 feet up in the stand and send text messages back and forth with my other hunting friends. I even remember saying to myself, “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”
Fast forward to the present and those early tools of my “high-tech” hunting seem about as antiquated as the Model-T. Now, I can still play games if I want to – but the use of my current phone goes way beyond that.
My current iPhone has become a trusted tool that not only improves my time spent afield, but makes me better prepared for it.
How so, you ask? That’s easy. It’s all in the apps.
When you consider the many ways that today’s phones can be used by an outdoorsman, how could I not use one? I can check the exact time that the sun first peeks in the morning to be sure I’m in the woods early enough – or even see my current location marked on a satellite photo of the land or topographical map.
I can view another satellite image that shows my position in relation to the wind and how it’s carrying my scent or just choose to use it the old fashioned way and search the internet for something of interest.
Here’s a quick rundown of the apps that I’m getting the most use out of this year. As in the last handful of hunting seasons, I’m sure that there are even better things to come but these are the current crop of “can’t get any better” gizmos that are available for either the iPhone or Android formats.
Give ‘em a try, and I think you’ll find them as useful as I do.
• Wind Chill: Although this one is incredibly simple, and not as relevant to hunting around here as it is to me when I travel out west, this is the quickest way that you can know what the morning is really going to feel like when you get out there.
For example, when we head out for one of our trips to Kansas tomorrow, it’s quite common for the air temperature to read 30 while the wind chill is closer to zero. If you’re not prepared for it, things can get pretty ugly in a hurry.
At 99 cents, it’s a bargain to me.
• Topos2Go: Although it’s not as cheap as most ($4), it allows you access to as many topographical maps from the U.S. Geological Survey as you’d like. This is a great way to learn the lay of the land where you hunt and to study any new hunting land that you’re considering leasing or purchasing.
• Google Earth: Most of us have played with this one on a computer, but did you know that you can get it on your smart phone? With the amazing detail and clarity of Google’s often-updated satellite imagery, I can even zoom in to see the well-traveled deer trails of our Kansas lease.
And it doesn’t hurt that it’s free, either.
• Moonphase: One of the first things that hunters take into consideration when planning a trip to a whitetail destination is whether or not the moon will be in their favor during the period of time that they’re considering. With this freebie you can know right away. Simply insert a date and the info you need pops up.
Last, but certainly not least, is the greatest hunting app to come along to date.
• ScoutLook: Although described as a weather app, ScoutLook is so much more. Sure, you can use it to check the radar to see what’s happening around you. But the map-based integration of weather details is where it really shines.
Use it for checking wind activity (including seeing the scent path that you’re creating in the woods), the solunar times for wildlife activity, barometric pressure readings and tons of other data. They also offer several versions that range in price from free to several dollars.
I also thought I’d better make you aware of several issues that have come up lately with a few tree stand manufacturers.
A recall has been issued by both Summit Tree stands and Rivers Edge.
The 2012 models of Rivers Edge Big Foot, Big Foot XL, Lite Foot and Baby Big Foot stands have an issue with the snap-hook assemblies which are used to secure the stand to the tree. If you purchased one for this season, contact the company immediately at 866-527-9690 for a free replacement.
The recall was brought on by several incidences where the snap-hook failed, which can cause the hunter and stand to fall.
The new “Crush” series of hang-on stands by Summit have a similar problem where the hanging strap is dislodging from the tree. Summit is also taking care of the problem by providing a free replacement. Just give them a call at 855-373-9808 or visit www.summitstands.com for more info.
Again, don’t dare to use it if you have one.
The Lone Wolf brand of tree stands is having a different situation. It seems that there were some stands shipped to them from an overseas manufacturer that the company rejected for quality issues. Another company named XOP apparently purchased the equipment and is selling them while still representing the product as a Lone Wolf stand.
The products in question can be identified by their gray straps and black stand tubing while the real deal comes with both pieces in brown.
This is a case of buyer beware. It could cost you your life.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his web site at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors