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The Most Overlooked Hunting App Features for Whitetail Hunters

Are we getting the most out of our hunting apps? Here are the most valuable overlooked app features for deer hunters.

The Most Overlooked Hunting App Features for Whitetail Hunters
If you want to get the most from your hunt apps as possible, you need to explore all the features the app offers. By doing so, you’ll discover previously unknown features that can help you be more successful. (Photo by Identical Draw)

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There have been some massive whitetail-oriented gear advancements in recent years. None, though, have impacted my success like digital and cellular scouting cameras and top-tier digital mapping apps.

What started as apps showcasing 3-D aerial imagery and private/public boundaries has certainly evolved. Today, top-end digital mapping apps like HuntStand, onX, Base Map, HuntWise and others, include up-to-the-minute weather data with future forecasts to help us plan our next deer-chasing mission. Many apps have wind-direction imagery that shows the current and expected wind directions with a cone or a computer-simulated graphic that mimics wind. It’s impressive.

Many apps have features related to moon data, barometric pressure, etc. Some are going the extra mile to help those chasing North America’s most beloved game animal be even more prepared with advanced, formulated-for-whitetails features.

Here are some of my favorite apps and what I think makes them great.

HUNTSTAND

I have used HuntStand for three years, and when it comes to whitetail hunting and land management, I believe it is the best digital hunting app.

Why do I think so?

For starters, HuntStand added Pro Whitetail, a $69.99 per year feature that gives whitetail goers all the excellent benefits of HuntStand with a 7-day Whitetail Activity Forecast designed around your hunt area. A proprietary model created from decades of data from North America’s top whitetail biologists, this feature analyzes over a dozen variables to estimate deer activity by the hour.

bauserman-hunting-apps-field
Features that show tree species, thermal cover and habitat features are assets to whitetail hunters. Make sure you have the layers turned on in your app’s settings. (Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

Last season I lived and died by the Whitetail Rut Map, which predicts peak rut activity, and the 7-day Whitetail Activity Forecast. I harvested my Colorado buck on Nov. 10 at 10:42 a.m., an expected peak movement time with an activity score (whitetail movement score) of 87.

Another HuntStand feature I can’t get enough of is the updated-monthly satellite imagery. The first app to offer updated-every-month satellite images, this feature proved ideal for looking at current agricultural practices and finding clear cuts. On a public-land hunt in Kansas, where an out-of-state hands-on recon mission wasn’t possible, I used the Monthly Satellite Imagery option to see crop rotation; and upon my arrival, I knew right where I wanted to be.

Other HuntStand features I use regularly are the many symbols and lines that allow me to create habitat plans and map out my hunt area. With this app, I can quickly develop shapes by drawing lines to create bedding areas, food plots and other habitat improvements.

Another whitetail gem that HuntStand offers is the Trail Camera Management feature. Most whitetail hunters are trail camera fanatics, and with this feature you can drop a trail cam marker for each camera. Then you can import and sort photos into the app for each camera. I love this feature. This way, I can keep all my pictures in one place and track buck movement over time. HuntStand automatically tags photos and provides weather and lunar data based on the image capture time.

Recommended


ONX MAPS

Another winner of an app is onX, and while many of its features appeal to the western hunter, onX recently upped its whitetail game.

Like other top-tier mapping systems, onX lets you download maps offline to pull up created-ahead-of-time maps when you don’t have service. You can view property boundaries and get access to land ownership. Plus, with its many symbol-marked pins, onX allows you to build maps and save essential waypoints. When you drop a waypoint, you can name it and enter notes, which is handy because the more waypoints you place, the easier it is to forget why you placed them.

bauserman-hunting-apps-onx
Every whitetail hunter knows that understanding which oak trees are dropping acorns is important while chasing mature bucks. OnX Hunt’s Acorn Producing Oaks Layer helps hunters identify where productive oaks are and which oak species are present. (Photo by Blake Garlock)

A great whitetail feature new to onX is the Tree Species and Habitat Layer. This feature is shown in colored pixels on the map layers, each pixel represents a 30-yard by 30-yard area, and each pixel displays the dominant tree species and age in that pixel. Now you can identify acorn-producing oaks as well as thermal deer cover. Research shows when temperatures dip, deer utilize sheltered bedding areas. Typical fall and winter habitat requires a dense canopy, and the Thermal Deer Cover layer quickly identifies coniferous species like hemlock, fir or cedar via a purple color scheme.

Another Tree Species feature I lean on heavily is the colored separation of deciduous and coniferous forests. The Deciduous/Coniferous Forest Layer has a trio of sublayers that can be turned on and off individually. Deciduous forests have red pixels, coniferous forests have brown pixels, and mixed forests have orange pixels.

Knowing what tree species are where can help you plan the perfect whitetail strategy.

HUNTWISE

Though I have the least experience with this app, it benefits the whitetail hunter. My favorite feature is WindCast. Users can enter every tree stand and ground blind in their hunt area into this app. When doing this, HuntWise asks you to enter the most favorable wind for each stand. I recommend doing this while sitting in your stand or blind after setting it up. That way, there is no guessing.

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Hunting apps give hunters the ability to blueprint their hunting or habitat plans before they head afield. By dropping pins, drawing lines and measuring areas, deer hunters can better plan projects before they start working. (Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

After entering your data, HuntWise will rank your stands from the most ideal to the least based on the current wind direction. When you’re having trouble picking the right location to hunt, this app can make the process much easier. I also applaud that a computer-generated graphic that looks like tiny green specs show wind direction on your smart device.

Another app feature, RutCast keeps you keen to various phases of the rut. And I have found HuntWise’s forecast predictions to be remarkably accurate.

BASEMAP

Do I like BaseMap? Yes! Why, and why for the whitetail crowd? While this map has way more western-oriented features that will appeal to elk, mule deer, pronghorn and sheep hunters, there are aids for whitetailers, too.

I applaud BaseMap’s HuntWind feature, which uses a white powder-mist windstream to show current and future wind forecasts. The 3-D Maps are another win, and in my opinion, they provide some of the most precise and detailed aerial imagery possible.

Whatever digital mapping app you decide to download, it will be money well spent. While most platforms have free trials and even free memberships that limit the number of features you can unlock, I highly recommend doing your app research, finding the app that’s right for you and getting a Pro, Elite or whatever top-end membership the app offers.

It’s also essential to spend time playing with your app. We spend a lot of time on our phones, and while most of that time is not well spent, learning the ins and outs of your new digital mapping app is ultra-important. You want to know about every feature the app provides and then figure out how those features blend with your hunting style, so you can have the best whitetail season of your life!




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