When I went hunting back in September with a group of friends, everyone had a different method for finding their way through the woods. Some of us were still using maps and compasses, though even that has changed. Instead of using the USGS quads that always seemed to put the spot you’re in right on the edge of two maps, or worse yet, the corner of four maps, I’ve started custom ordering my maps from MyTopo.com. But maps aren’t the only thing that’s gotten a serious upgrade in the last several years.
GPS receivers have come a long way, too. I’m still using my old Garmin eTrex Vista – the version with the black and white display. Yeah, it’s old, but it still works – at least as long as there’s not a food of wet snow on the ground and in the trees. I’ve had my GPS go haywire in those conditions before.
Others in the group had newer GPS units, but the really cool thing was the OnX Hunt app a couple of guys had on their phones. If you haven’t heard of OnX, check it out. You can use it on your phone, so you don’t need an expensive GPS. You can get the basic version for free, but if you want to be able to use the maps when you don’t have a cell signal, you’ll need the subscription. The price is $30 a year for one state or a hundred bucks for all 50 states.
OnX is much more detailed than my old GPS, and it can be customized with hunt area boundaries, private or public land ownership borders, and a bunch of other useful settings. My only hesitation with it is that I have an iPhone – I’m pretty sure my battery would last just long enough to get me deep into the woods, then it would die on me.
If your battery lasts longer than mine, look into it. But keep a map as a backup.