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Tethered: 6 Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Hunt


Tethered: 6 Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Hunt

Every year, countless deer hunters spend the offseason anticipating their first trip to the deer stand. By the time late summer arrives, it reaches a feverish pitch. Big expectations have been built based on trail cam images and buck-filled thought bubbles. Bows have been shot, equipment gathered, and, before you know it, the truck is packed. Finally, you plop down in your hunting seat in the pre-dawn darkness, and you... pull out your smartphone. Of course, you do. It’s as instinctive as glassing an opening or nocking an arrow. Maybe more so...

They say good things come to those who wait. After thousands of sits in tree stands, blind chairs, and on stumps for that matter, I can boldly say this is not always true. I guess it depends on your outlook, but that’s a whole subject in and of itself. When it comes to passing the time on stand, hunters handle the wait in different ways – some productive and some more trivial. Either way, who’s to judge?

While purists will proclaim that you should remain totally alert to your surroundings at all times, it’s often not practical. One glaring example is the infamous whitetail rut all-day sit. While you can remain still, you can only survey the same sliver of the landscape so often without mentally straying.

Today’s smartphones are teeming with functionality which is great for hunters that sit for long periods of time. However, all smartphone functions aren’t created equal when it comes to hunting apps and online venues. Translation; while hunting, there are better alternatives to playing Candy Crush or Tour of Duty.

Basic functionality

Before any outside app or website is even considered, your smartphone comes ready with base functionality, such as messaging, email, notes, and a calendar. This means you can, depending on cellular service, work on a to-do list, write or return emails, or plan out your week. These are only a few. While they don’t sound very exciting, these basic functions can, no doubt be productive.

However, even better, there are online sites and apps that are specifically educational, useful, and entertaining for hunters and outdoorsmen. Put differently, assuming you’re gawking at your phone from the tree stand anyway, why not utilize features that enhance current or future hunts – or at least keep you in a hunting frame of mind

Deer hunting involves long sits and at times, passing the time can be a challenge.

With that, here are 6 productive ways to utilize your cellular device while waiting for the next shooter buck to come into view.


Whitetail hunting typically involves some level of glassing and surveying your surrounding area. From the very game animals you’re hunting, to other critters, sunrises, and sunsets, photo and video opportunities are everywhere. For one, smartphones have really good cameras. To bridge the distance gap, digiscoping further enhances images and video in the deer woods. Digiscoping kits pair your optics with your smartphone and draw your subjects in closer. My favorite kits come from Phone Skope.

Smartphones come with fantastic cameras for scouting and other wildlife viewing. You can even kick it up a notch with digiscoping.

To enhance your captured images, there is a multitude of filtering apps available, many of them free. Examples include Adobe Lightroom, Phonto, and Snapseed. The bottom line? Captured images taken while on stand are not only great for scouting, they’re fun to take and can scratch that creative itch.

GPS and Navigational-Based Apps

Today, there are several quality hunting apps affording hunters the ability to leverage valuable land data and features. The OnX Hunting App for example, provides custom waypoints, distances, and acreage on and between locations. It also reveals nationwide hunting opportunities through public land maps and private property ownership information.

There are plenty other Hunting Apps that provide or predict a variety of information such as wind and weather options, best hunting times, and habitat and harvest features. A few other alternatives to check out include HuntWise, DeerCast, GoHunt, and HuntStand. Most of these apps not only help you on your current hunt but assist in planning future excursions.

Social Hunting Apps and Websites

For many, social apps will always be a draw, whether in the recliner or deer stand. It’s no secret that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have a ton of social content for the camo army. Like anybody else, gun and bow hunters flock to them with frequency and wild abandon for grip and grins, as well as educational posts, stories, and videos.

Hunters can access social media, including hunting and outdoor-only platforms from the tree stand and blind.

Today, there are more and more hunting-specific social apps and web-driven platforms that are easily accessed from mobile devices. Here, we’re talking all hunting-all the time content with less fluff and without anti-hunter and cancel culture intrusion. The the web-based platform features continuous hunting commentary and imagery from hunters all over the country – as well as companion hunting content including stories, tips, strategies, and videos. think hunting camp from your smartphone.

It doesn’t stop there though. There is also a bevy of Facebook groups and internet message boards chockful of interaction between hunters.


The YouTube revolution has been rolling on for some time now and it’s not lost on the hunting contingent. Today, there are many channels geared toward the DIY public land hunter, bonafide trophy hunters, and anyone wanting to embrace the entire hunting experience. You can literally close your eyes, swing a stick, and hit a good number of channels full of everything from tree saddle basics to footage of entire hunts. Production quality ranges from raw to exquisite. In either case, hunters can feast their eyes on never-ending footage of scouting sessions, buck approaches, and lung shots. Remember, to maintain silence and stealth, pack your favorite earbuds if you intend on enjoying the audio.

YouTube isn’t the only venue for hunting video. There are dedicated hunting channels full of captivating, well-produced video content. The popular CarbonTV platform features an array of quality hunting clips and full episodes. As far as video quality, this online destination falls on the more aforementioned exquisite end. Great stuff.

Journaling/Logging Hunting Data

With easy access to the likes of Google Docs or even the stock Notes app, the written word can be put to use in the field. If you’re so inclined, hunters can document the hunt, record hunting data, or maintain a to-do list of necessary hunting tasks. Journaling is also a great alternative, this is a healthy undertaking – physically, mentally, and emotionally. After all, you’re already a captive audience in the ultimate quiet space.

You can scrap the notebook and use your smartphone for journaling, to-do lists, and so much more through simple Notes Apps or word processors.

Yeah, this category may seem old-school, but letting your fingers do the walking during hunting sits can be useful, fun, and a productive way to pass the time.


Keeping with the old-school theme, reading is a great way to pass the time from the tree or ground blind. These days, the act of reading is lost on a lot of folks, but it’s a great activity while hunting. After all, you’re a captive audience. Today, there is no need to tote a book to the stand, as reading opportunities are infinite on that treasured device that’s tethered to your hand. While video is much more popular these days, it’s hard to beat the act of peacefully reading in the solitude of the outdoors. While virtually every subject matter is available, there’s plenty to ingest in the hunting niche; including hunting tips, stories, and lifestyle content.

One of the best things about reading is that it can be done without cell service. You can download books to your device or open articles prior to the hunt so they’re at the ready as soon as you’re settled in the stand.

For hunters, reading opportunities abound with digital hunting magazines, blogs, and even books.

Check out any of the great digital magazines, blogs, and books in the hunting and outdoor ether. It’s educational, entertaining, and always peaceful when done with your bow or rifle within reach.

The Audible

Podcasting is all the rage in the 21st Century. Like in any other space, hunting and the outdoors is increasingly well-represented in the podcast jungle. The best part of it? Overall themes range from the overarching, such as conservation to the educational, such as how to hunt a staging area. Podcasts are great vessels for bolstering hunting success through tactics from the well-seasoned to the hunting everyman. Like with video, don’t forget your earbuds.

Your smartphone is teeming with functionality that can productively help you pass the time during hunts.

Other Uses

Smartphones and technology in general have advanced so far that it’s hard to imagine the many ways they can help hunters prepare for hunts and pass time in the stand. A few others that come to mind are viewing trail camera images, app-driven game calls, and survival guides. Use your imagination – most needs can probably be addressed via that thin little box in your hand or pocket.

If used logically, the modern-day smartphone can be one of your most important pieces of hunting gear. Let’s be honest, you likely don’t leave home without it anyway – and likely can’t fight off the urge to stare into it. If you find yourself restless during a hunting stint, leverage it in a way that helps you hunt.


Jerald Kopp

From drop tines to blood trails, sight pins to cross hairs. We not only highlight hunting strategies, but also the lighter side of the outdoor lifestyle – the nuances that make it fun, memorable and part of our DNA.

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