Being a successful hunter has always required equal parts patience, skill, and luck. It would be best if you had the patience to wait for your quarry to cross your path, the skill to take it down quickly and humanely, and the luck for the perfect prey to appear in front of you, in the correct season and within range of your chosen weapon.
Technology has emerged that can help give even new hunters an advantage so you won’t have to rely so much on luck. Here are some new technologies that can provide hunters with an edge to help them find their quarry.
1. Heated Vests
Many of the prime hunting seasons fall in the colder parts of the year. Sitting still in a deer blind while you wait for the perfect buck to cross your path could leave you shivering and frostbitten. You could add layer after layer, but all those extra clothes can leave you feeling bulky and make it harder to make your way up to your blind.
Instead, opt for a thin, rechargeable heated vest. One battery pack will keep you warm for hours, depending on the heat setting you choose. Plus, if you take your phone with you, you can use the vest’s USB port to charge your devices.
2. Improved Optics
The further away your target is, the more difficult it’ll be to hit. Modern optics have made it a lot easier to see and target things at the very edge of your gun or bow’s range. If you handed a modern rifle to a hunter a few generations back, they likely wouldn’t know what to make of it. To the untrained or unpracticed eye, the target reticles might look like a jumble of messy lines, dots, and numbers, but they can be an invaluable tool for target shooters and hunters.
These optics are incredibly popular on crossbows because of the stability that the frame offers, but you can install them on rifles and longbows just as easily. It just takes a bit of calibration to ensure they’re accomplishing the job you’ve set out to do.
3. Trail Cameras
One of the easiest ways to improve the chances of securing your tag limits is to have a good understanding of your targets’ movements. Until the introduction of trail cameras, obtaining this information required spending large amounts of time in the woods, simply watching and recording the data you collect. It wasn’t impossible, but it took a lot of time — something most people don’t have a lot of these days.
Trail cameras allow you to do the same thing without the need for hours spent in a blind, even outside of hunting season. Modern versions might not even need SD cards, instead of hooking to mobile internet networks and uploading their images and video directly to the cloud. That way, you can access them without having to go back to the camera. You’ll still want to check on your cameras from time to time to make sure they’re charging correctly if they use solar power or to swap out the batteries as necessary.
4. GPS Tracking
Whether you’re using a bow or a rifle, one of the most challenging parts of hunting is tracking a wounded animal through dense underbrush and then finding your way back to your hide or car once you’ve succeeded. You could follow your own footsteps, but it’s easy to get turned around, which might leave you wandering in circles with a heavy carcass on your shoulders.
GPS tracking might not help you find a wounded animal, but it can help you keep track of where you are, where you need to go, and how to get back to the start again, so you don’t find yourself lost in the woods. The last thing anyone wants during a hunting trip is to trigger a search and rescue!
5. Range Finders
Objects in mirrors might be closer than they appear — and that same illusion often applies to that buck you just spotted across the clearing. It’s important to know exactly how far away your target is and whether it might be out of the range of your weapon of choice. You might be able to get away with missing a shot from a bow, but a missed rifle shot will scare off whatever you’re trying to hit.
Invest in a range finder you can keep in the pocket of your hunting vest or one that will mount to your bow or rifle. You’ll never again have to worry about missing that perfect shot because of the range. Outside of finding your target, they can also be useful tools to see what is on the other side of the clearing without having to carry a heavy pair of binoculars as well.
6. Cellphone Apps
Crowdsourced information is showing up in nearly every arena — including hunting. GPS-enabled apps allow you to track property lines to ensure you’re not hunting on private property. You can track personal and public blinds that you might have access to in your area. Even versions allow you to mark where you found a particular animal or fish on a GPS map.
No Substitute for Practice and Patience
New technologies can give hunters an edge and help make finding elusive prey a little bit easier. However, all the toys in the world are no substitute for the skill, patience, and luck of experienced hunters.