The technology I carry in my pack
In today’s world, technology plays a major role in all aspects of life — even hunting. Some technology is made for communication and others for location. Though technology in hunting is not a necessity to most, I am here to make the case that you’ll consider the four pieces of technology I mention below a necessity after you use them this hunting season. Not to mention that these pieces of technology also make your hunting season so much easier and stress-free. There are only four pieces of technology that I always have in my pack on every hunt and hike I do. Here are the reasons that they are important to me.
The first piece of technology I always have with me is a cell phone with a mapping service. The basic concept behind satellite mapping services is that you download the maps when you are in service and, while out of service, you can have access to real-time location, path tracking, topographic maps, aerial photography, trails and numerous other overlays. These maps are a game-changer and, if you are still using a traditional GPS, it is time to consider changing your ways. I can't wait to start running goHUNT's mobile mapping application and from the discussion I have had with them, it's going to be epic!
One example of when a mapping app was essential was in 2018. I had a bull bedded on a sparse side hill in a small opening I could see from the opposite ridge. As I dropped off the ridge, the vantage point changed and I started to lose track of what opening the bull was in. Luckily, I had marked the opening on my aerial map, which allowed me to track towards and see — on the map — the opening the bull was bedded in. Trying to do that with a traditional GPS would have been nearly impossible. I crossed the creek in the bottom and snuck within bow range of that bull without him knowing I was there, but he never presented me a shot. If I did not have satellite imagery on my phone, I would have had to either go back to where I could see the bull to regain my bearings or guess. When elk hunting, you do not get many chances at good bulls on public land so making the most of every opportunity is important.
The second item of technology that has become essential over the last few years is my Garmin InReach. When they first came out I was not sold on why I would drop $300 to $400 on a communication device — not to mention paying for a monthly subscription. In 2018, my wife actually bought me one for Christmas and now I am a big advocate for several reasons. The way a Garmin InReach works is similar to cell phone texting without the need for any cell coverage. No matter where you are, you can send and receive messages to and from phone numbers or emails through satellite technology. You can also message other Garmin InReaches no matter where they are in the world. This is how I use my Garmin InReach and why I think it’s important.
First of all, I pay the activation fee and only keep the service for the months I hunt hard, especially during deer, elk and other fall seasons when hunting is back to back and I plan on being out of service for days on end. The reason I love the InReach is that it gives my family and myself peace of mind. I can message my wife and kids everyday even if I choose to stay in the backcountry multiple days at a time. I use it to let my family know I am OK, tell my buddies back home about any success and to feel like I am safe no matter where I am. When hunting from a basecamp, before my InReach, I used to drive into cell phone service nearly every day to let my wife know I was OK. This would be a late night drive and usually affect my sleep time, but was what she needed to feel fine with me hunting solo. Just being able to message my wife and let her know that I am back at camp and safe has made a huge difference to her and me and allows me to do whatever it takes to harvest an animal.
Another way that I used this Garmin essentially this year was hunting with a hunting buddy. I dropped my hunting buddy off to hunt a drainage and planned to pick him up 30 minutes after dark. I ended up getting into bulls in a drainage five miles deep and was working in on them all the way until the end of shooting light. I felt so bad that I was going to be at least an hour late to pick him up so I sent him a message on his InReach. He made it to the trailhead and laid down and took a nap, knowing that I was just late and not dead. The InReach gave him the peace of mind that I was coming and gave me the peace of mind that he knew I was coming. Overall, this is a great piece of technology I will always have with me.
The third piece of essential technology is a backup GPS. Previously, I have had some really good GPSs with chips; however, now, with the satellite map on my cell phone, I use a GPS as an emergency plan. When I get to a trailhead where I park, I mark my truck and then turn the GPS off and put it in my pack. If I ever lost my phone or it got ruined, I still have the peace of mind that I can make it back to the truck. Overall, this is a backup piece of technology that I carry with me for assurance due to the durability and reliability.
The final piece of technology I carry with me is a good portable battery charger. Personally, I use an Anker Powercore, which is a little heavy, but there are other options out there like Goal Zero and Dark Energy. Make sure you have the charging cords to charge your phone, Garmin and GPS. I have never used one, but have heard good things about some solar pack chargers that go on top of your bag. Don’t be afraid to buy one online and give it a try. If it doesn’t work like you would like, then return it and try again.
In recent years, except for basic GPSs, I didn’t have any technology as a part of hunting. Now we scout on technology using goHUNT Maps then we travel to our spots using GPS systems and then we hunt using the aforementioned technology.
Over the past few years, I have been a skeptic of some technologies and if they are worth their weight and the cost; however, these are four that I am 100% sold on and recommend to anyone going in the backcountry. Ultimately, any product you are taking to the backcountry needs to be affordable, reliable, durable and work for you.