How the creators of INSIDER use INSIDER
We asked our staff members to share how they use INSIDER and what features are most important to them. This is Part 1 of 4.
Name: Brady Miller
Currently applies in: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
Season of choice: early archery
Favorite species: mule deer
As a hunter, I look for any way to cut down prep time so I can spend more time in the field. It used to take me several days of research to find a unit to apply for and it now takes me less than an hour and one cup of coffee. INSIDER paves the way to researching more effectively.
1. How do you use INSIDER to decide whether or not to apply in a particular state?
When I decide to apply in a certain state, I utilize the INSIDER tools in the following order.
1a.) First, I review state profiles to get a breakdown on what I can expect to pay for fees and I make note if they are states where I need to front money or not. The days when I need to have five internet tabs open plus confusing regulation books are finally gone. I can now have easier access to all the information I need in order to make an informed decision on where to spend my money and hard earned bonus points.
1b.) Next, I study species profiles to get a deeper level of understanding on information I need to know for my species of choice. From there, I can weigh my options and I will know if this state is right for me.
2. How do you use INSIDER to find hidden hunting opportunities?
I have found the Unit Profile filtering device to be worth its weight in 180” mule deer bucks. I was looking for additional opportunities in December and January to extend my hunting season. Last fall I started researching areas for over-the-counter archery hunts in Arizona for mule deer.
With the filtering tool, I selected Arizona — Mule deer — Late archery (over-the-counter season). The Unit Profile filtering showed all units in Arizona where I could hunt late season mule deer over-the-counter. This provided me with a fantastic starting point and gave me a lot of options to look over. I then started to mark down units to look at that are on the fringes (foothills) of wilderness areas because I was looking for bucks migrating out of the high country in search of does that would be at lower elevations.
After selecting 8 to 10 units that fit my personal criteria, I could then dive into the Unit Profile descriptions to see what units were better for deer numbers and quality bucks. INSIDER provided me with new hunting opportunities that I otherwise would not have known existed. In the past, I relied on state regulation handbooks to sort out this information, but that would only get me so far before I would have to do scroll the internet trying to gather this information for late season opportunities on my own, which was tedious and also not always accurate.
3. How do you use the mapping, terrain photos and other visuals offered on the unit profiles?
I have never stepped foot in a lot of the places I want to apply and hunt. Now, I just click over to check out a Unit Profile page and read up on the relevant information and data I want to learn more about.
Then, I go to the map of that unit, expand it, and view the unit using a satellite view. This is where I start my hunt planning. I can dig as deep as I want. When hunting remote units, for example, I check all of the area services along my route which quickly tells me where the last gas station is.
Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere without gas on a hunting trip is never fun. I have never seen that information anywhere else before.
Terrain photos are another really helpful feature that I use. It shows me exactly what a unit looks like in real life. I use these photos to help me determine a unit’s "glassability." It gives me a great look at the vegetation and allows me to assess whether this could be a great bowhunting unit.
Another unique feature is being able to utilize Google Street View. This is a huge feature that does not get used nearly as much as it should.
You can get a view of the terrain by dropping the "little orange man" on any road of any unit. Being a bowhunter, I can once again quickly gain a better understanding of the general habitat and terrain. My prefered habitat to hunt is slightly open terrain that I can glass, yet still has enough broken terrain for a stalk. So utilizing this helps to narrow down units that I will be most successful in. This is a great advantage when you have never stepped foot in an unit.
4. How do you leverage the insights from expert hunters written in each Unit Profile?
When looking at a hunting area, utilizing the insight from the hunters in the Unit Profiles saves me a lot of time. It is very reassuring to know that these were written by hunters with boots on the ground and real experience in these units. I have cross-checked the information on certain units and determined that the expertise shared is not only accurate, but also incredibly helpful when planning my own hunt. With this additional knowledge, I am able to take a closer look at units that I might have skipped over in the past.
I live and breathe backcountry bowhunting. These profiles help me decide what units have lots of public land plus the section on access is very valuable to me. I look for units with few roads and lots of wilderness or backcountry so that I can have a better chance to get away from the crowds and hunt bucks on my time. I do not want to feel pressured to make a poor stalk because two other camps are hunting next to me.
5. How do you use INSIDER to decide where to burn your points?
As someone with a science background, I love looking at statistical information. Bowhunting is already hard enough and harvest success trends are important to me.
I place a lot of weight on harvest success when deciding which units to apply in. If an area has a low number of tags and high harvest success, I know it will be a unit to consider. I also pay special attention to rugged backcountry areas with a low success rate — these are the units that have great odds at locating a mature buck. These are great units for me personally because I take into account my physical ability, mental attitude and skill set when looking at backcountry hunts. I like to compare neighboring units and analyze the access, judge the difficulty of the hunt based on amount of backcountry, and weigh that against the harvest success to see if it is a unit I want to burn my precious bonus points.
Key points I look at when deciding where to burn my points:
- harvest success for archery
- amount of backcountry
- judge the amount of physical difficulty based on terrain or lack of roads (I feel the more difficult the better)
- terrain photos to assess glassing and stalking conditions
Overall, I find INSIDER to be a great tool for me as a bowhunter and a huge timesaver when researching for new opportunities or trying to find an area to apply. If you have not given INSIDER a look yet, I recommend checking out the free State Profile preview, Unit Profile preview and Species Profile preview. Read more about all the benefits below.
If you have any questions about this article, please comment below and I will respond.