I’ve been using my old Garmin eTrex Vista GPS receiver for years. It wasn’t the first GPS unit I ever owned, but it was the first one that was lightweight, compact, and easy to use. And I’ve used it for everything. I use it when I hunt, when I camp, when I hike, and even when I ride my bike. I used it when I had a boat, and I’d mark spots where I had good fishing.
But technology has continued clicking along, and now many of my hunting buddies are using their cell phones to find their way in the woods. Several years ago, one of the guys in camp showed me the OnX Hunt app he was using, and it nearly blew my mind.
For one thing, you can use OnX with the cell phone you already have. There’s no need to buy another piece of equipment. You have to pay for the service, but it’s not that much – it’s $30 for one state for a year, or $100 for all 50 states. It can show you the topo map version of the view, or you can have it show a satellite image. You can even overlay land ownership, and it’ll tell you who owns that chunk of land where all the elk are going, in case you want to deliver the landowner a gift basket of wine and hundred-dollar bills and ask if you can hunt there.
My first thought, though, was what if you don’t get a cell signal? Through some magic I can’t understand, as long as you’ve noted the area you want to be accessible, it’ll even work when you don’t have a signal. I’m still fiddling with the app to figure out exactly how it works and what it can do, but so far, I’m highly impressed. I just wish my old iPhone battery would last more than a couple hours on a charge. Because of that limitation, I’ll still be carrying my old eTrex Vista on my hunts this year.