Benefits of Using Hunting Apps on Public Land for Deer Hunters

hunting apps

Here is a rewritten intro in a more conversational, first-person style:

Remember when we had to rely on those unwieldy paper maps to scout out new hunting spots? They’d get torn, smeared with mud, completely soaked if it rained. And good luck finding the tiny parcel of public land you wanted to check out next season – it was like finding a needle in a haystack with those things. Times sure have changed. Don’t get me wrong, I still keep a paper map tucked in my pack as a backup. But hunting apps are a total game-changer. The amount of helpful features packed into these things is mind-blowing compared to those paper dinosaurs.

Before downloading every hunting app out there, it’s important to think about your specific needs and hunting style. For me as a public land deer hunter, having detailed topo maps, property boundary overlays, trail cams, weather forecasts, etc right on my phone has been huge. Hunting apps have absolutely helped improve my skills and success over the years. I know some old-school hunters who think they’re useless gadgets, but I couldn’t imagine scouting new spots or sitting in my tree stand without them nowadays. Give hunting apps a try yourself – you might be surprised at how much they can benefit any hunter’s game.

A photo of a hunter looking at his phone in the woods

Locating Public Land Parcels

Back in the day, finding public hunting land was a pain. You basically had to already know where the good spots were or somehow get your hands on a paper map that showed public parcels. These days, it’s a breeze thanks to hunting apps. Most have built-in map layers that highlight any property open to public access. This little feature has been a total game-changer for me.

For one, it helps me discover hidden gems I never realized were open to the public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a promising chunk of public land that I didn’t even know existed. The apps have seriously expanded my options. Mapping out public parcels also helps me learn the land better. Now I can see exactly where the boundaries are so I don’t accidentally trespass. And it’s way easier to stay oriented once I’m actually out in the field.

Tapping Into Unique Data

Some of these apps go above and beyond just showing public land boundaries. A few have bonus map layers with really cool, specialized info that takes scouting to the next level. For example, a couple apps actually map out areas that have produced record-book bucks based on trophy records. Now that’s some VIP intel! It helps me zero in on public lands with proven potential to yield trophy whitetails. That kind of data would have been almost impossible to get your hands on in the past without these hunting apps.

Analyzing Properties on Multiple Levels

Paper maps are so limiting. You’re stuck with one fixed perspective. Hunting apps let me zoom in and out to analyze a property on multiple levels. I’ll scan the big picture zoomed out to spot promising features. Then I can drill down and zoom in on certain areas I want to check out in more detail. The ability to toggle between the macro and micro views gives me a way more complete scouting picture than I could ever get from an old paper map.

How To Read The Terrain

Any savvy whitetail hunter knows reading the land is critical. When I’m scouting new public spots, I’m always trying to identify prime edge habitat. That means looking for things like crop fields, stretches of CRP land, woodland edges, dense bedding cover, curves in creeks or rivers, recent clear cuts, and so on. The terrain layers and aerial imagery in hunting apps make it so much easier for me to pick out those key land features that attract and hold deer. I can scout smarter and more efficiently.

Viewing Topographic Features

Ask any whitetail biologist – deer live and die by the terrain. The lay of the land impacts everything from where they bed to how they access food and water and where they feel most secure. Hunting apps help me spot key topo features that concentrated deer activity. I can now easily identify saddles, benches, bottoms, ditches, draws, hills, hollows, ridges, funnels, pinch points, swamp corners, creek junctions, and more. These were a lot harder to detect in the past without the detailed topo maps in hunting apps.

Measuring Habitat Maturity

Mature forests with big dark trees may look cool, but they actually suck as whitetail habitat. Deer need that younger forest growth to provide prime food, cover, and bedding. Hunting apps make it easy to gauge the maturity of timber stands based on canopy color in aerial images. Darker canopy = older more mature timber. Lighter canopy = younger early successional growth. This helps me identify the spots on public land that will hold the most deer.

Finding Bedding, Food, and Water

Hunting apps have been a game-changer for finding bedding areas, food sources, and watering holes on public land. Special map layers show the location of oak trees, agricultural crops, streams, ponds, and other deer magnets. And the high-res aerial imagery makes it easy to spot thick bedding cover. I can break down a new piece of public land and figure out how deer are using it way faster than I could in ye olden days of paper maps and compasses.

Avoiding Pressured Areas

Scouting vast public lands takes forever without guidance. Hunting apps help make my scouting time more efficient by steering me away from low-potential areas. For example, certain properties may have huge blocks of timber that are all the same age and poor habitat. I call areas like this “junk ground” that’s just not worth wasting time on. The apps help me identify and avoid those spots so I can focus my efforts on more promising public parcels.

Finding Potential Honey Holes

On the flip side, hunting apps have also helped me discover some absolute honey holes on public land. Now I can use the maps to mark spots that look primo based on terrain, habitat, feeding sign, etc. Then I can bounce from one high-potential waypoint to the next to scout super effectively. Without apps, I’d wander around hoping to randomly stumble on diamonds in the rough.

Real-Time Landscape Change Updates

One cool perk I get from using the HuntStand app is that their aerial imagery is updated monthly. As a traveling hunter who bounces around public land in different states, this is clutch. I can see how recent timber harvests, prescribed burns, flooding, or other landscape-changing events have impacted public parcels since my last visit. It helps me adapt my scouting strategy accordingly. Can’t get real-time updates like that from an old paper map!

Offline Maps

Anyone who hunts remote public land knows there are plenty of places beyond the reach of cell service. Being able to download and save offline area maps in my hunting apps has been a total lifesaver. Now it doesn’t matter if I’m scouting the backcountry or trying to navigate back to the truck in pitch darkness – I can still pull up my maps and find my way even sans cell signal. Definitely beats stumbling around lost in the woods.

Record Your Scouting Finds

During my public land scouting missions, I’m always trying to document stuff like fresh rubs, scrapes, feeding sign, bedding areas, deer trails, etc. Hunting apps make keeping tabs on these finds a breeze with handy GPS tools. I can drop pins or use the track recording feature to map out entire trail systems and high activity areas within a parcel. This allows me to literally paint a picture of how deer are using the landscape. Good luck pulling that off with a paper map and pen!

Marking Strategically Deployed Gear

Between trail cams, treestands, ground blinds, and other gear, I’ve got a lot of stuff deployed across different public lands each season. Trying to remember exactly where I hung that one stand or flung that one camera would be a nightmare without my trusty hunting app. Now I can easily mark all my gear locations for reference. Saves me tons of headaches and frustration when it’s time to go retrieve everything.

How To Navigate the Terrain

Hunting apps aren’t just helpful during the scouting phase. I also depend on them to help me actually navigate and move through the land once boots are on the ground. They make it easy to find flagged treestand locations in the dark wee hours before daylight. And I can use the GPS tools to find my way back to the truck even in pitch black darkness after the hunt.

Safely Keep Track of Buddies

When I’m rolling with a group on public lands, hunting apps give us one more tool to stay safe and connected. I can share my real-time location with the crew so they can monitor my position. I can also flag where I’ll be posted up in a stand or blind and send that to the group so we all know where each other are at. This app feature is clutch for keeping our squad intact and avoiding any friendly fire mishaps!

Helps You Tell The Wind Direction

Most hunting apps have built-in weather data with wind direction. As any seasoned whitetail hunter knows, wind awareness is absolutely critical for staying undetected. Being able to check wind direction right in my app helps me set up stands and approach spots while staying scent-free.

Forecasting Thermals

Hunting apps also help me estimate thermals – those rising and sinking air currents crucial for playing the wind. I can use the weather data to anticipate when thermals will be active based on temps rising and cooling at dawn and dusk. And I can factor in variables like creeks and slopes that impact thermals. Apps keep me wise to the wind so I can stay one step ahead of a deer’s nose.

So in summary, hunting apps have become an invaluable tool for scouting and hunting public lands. They’ve made me a smarter, savvier, and more successful public land whitetail hunter compared to the pre-app days of paper maps and compasses. I honestly can’t imagine going back to hunting public land without the maps, terrain, weather data, GPS markings, and other digital intel these apps put at my fingertips. They’re an absolute game-changer.

Essential Deer Hunting Apps

These apps are the cream of the crop. While you may only need some of these apps, considering how each could improve your hunting experiences is worth considering.

OnXMaps Hunt

This app lets you identify land areas using your Android or iPhone device. Check owner names and public and private boundaries. It can save aerial imagery and topo maps for offline use.

The app allows users to view hunting unit layers, game management units, maps with topography, roads, rivers, and lakes. GPS, waypoints, and icons can be used for navigation, including to your vehicle, camp, lookouts, and blinds.

You can create waypoints for scrapes, rubs, wallows, and sightings by using photos you take. Premium membership is also available.

SAS Survival Guide

This app provides valuable information to help you survive in any situation. The following text was written by a SAS soldier and contains training techniques used by Britain’s elite fighters. The app comprises survival skills from all over the world that can be useful in your local or national park.

The following text includes 16 videos, photo galleries of animal tracks, knots, edible, medicinal, or poisonous plants, types of sea creatures, and snakes. It contains a device for signaling in Morse code, a checklist, a sun compass, and tips for survival in extreme climates in polar, tropical, ocean, or desert regions. The first aid section is especially valuable.


HuntForce is a trail camera management tool that helps you organize your fleet of trail cameras and all the images you accumulate. You can keep track of each camera’s location on your property and take notes on each one within the app. You can also tag photos accordingly.

The HuntForce system allows you to upload all your photos and select which ones you want to be added to your profile. Making it easier to manage your photos.

HuntForce will eventually let you keep tabs on specific deer, which will assist you in working out its routine and shooting it.

HuntForce is a web-based application used on a mobile device through a web browser.

DeerLab lets you keep track of your best hunting spots and camera locations in one easy-to-use place. DeerLab makes it possible to identify and follow specific animals while giving them unique names. The app provides information to help you determine which treestand you should climb and when to increase your chances of taking a particular deer.

You can filter through your photos by date, property, camera, and weather conditions using the DeerLab account. You can create albums of pictures to share with friends and family.

Deer Calls and Tactics

The app Deer Tactics and Calls has a comprehensive collection of deer sounds that can be used to improve your hunting experience.

This text provides descriptions of different sounds that deer make and how effective each noise is for hunting purposes.

This text provides the best times to hunt based on the moon’s phases and tips and tactics for each phase. It also rates the hunting potential for each day according to the moon’s position. It provides a calendar with the best days highlighted.

Act In Nature Hunting

Act In Nature offers three things that are essential for the serious hunter. It has mapping, tracking, and navigating capability. Before you start, mark areas where you think you see game or where they are likely to feed or take refuge.

This app gives you information about the moon and sun phases and the weather forecast, which you can share with other hunters. The app allows you to navigate using POIs, compasses, or distance circles and see other hunters’ positions, speeds, and directions. You can record your experience by writing in a private journal or by putting images and videos in the gallery for others to view.

Whitetail Freaks Property Management

This app allows you to find your property lines, pin your trail camera locations, and find your treestand and food plot locations.

You can manage hundreds of properties, choosing custom names and notes for each. This app is an excellent tool for hunters who want to stay organized.

The map and overlay filters can easily find all the trail cameras on your property. Never lose another trail camera again. It’s like having your own personal assistant with you in your backpack.


If you’re looking for a weather forecasting app that is accurate and available for both Android and iOS, AccuWeather is a great option.

The hourly, seven-day, and especially radar forecasts help plan your hunts and monitor current conditions.

Furthermore, hunters caught in bad weather can benefit from severe weather alerts. Having advanced notice that they must pack up and head in can be very useful.

Google Earth

The Google Earth app allows you to explore any place on the globe with your fingers.

For hunters, having a drone is exciting because you can get close-up details of the terrain and features of your hunting property.

While other apps may use topographical maps and satellite imagery, Google Earth is still the go-to for viewing 3D terrain. This device can identify natural features such as funnels, creeks, marshes, and ridges.


The HuntStand app helps you manage your hunting land, even if you don’t have a mobile signal. The “HuntZone” tools can calculate where your scent will spread based on wind direction, speed, distance, and time.

You can map out your hunting property and use icons to highlight places of interest. Like wireless trail cameras, tree stands, feeders, and whatever else is important to you. You can measure area and distance to gain accurate data on your land in addition to that.

a photo of a deer in the woods

Hunting apps have changed how we scout for hunting lands. These apps offer many features to help improve your next hunting trip, locate public land parcels, tap into unique data sets, and analyze properties on multiple levels. They can also assist in understanding the terrain, viewing topographic features, measuring habitat maturity, finding bedding, food, and water, and avoiding lousy hunting grounds. Hunting apps can help find potential honey holes, saving time and increasing the chances of a successful hunt.

Overall, hunting apps can be a valuable tool for any hunter, and it’s worth considering which app will work with your hunting style.

Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.

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