Rick Bramwell mug

Rick Bramwell

Can an app make you a better deer hunter? This old-timer thinks so. In fact, the onX Hunt app can take much of the guesswork out of whitetail hunting and fill your freezer in record time.

I have had the onX app for over a year. Along with its web map, it allows me to share the exact location of my tree stands and a whole lot more. I sometimes hunt the Hoosier National Forest where private land is interspersed with public property. This app shows me the property lines and tells me who the private land belongs to, but I’m just getting started.

There are many layers to this app. For starters, I have government and private land turned on. The next layer is “Crop Land.” If I noted a field was corn in 2020, I can be pretty sure it is in beans this year.

How about this new layer for the 2021 season, “Tree Species and Habitat map?” Once you make this selection you may click on “Deciduous Tree Distribution” and/or “Coniferous Tree Distribution.” Under the deciduous are several species. I may want to click off all the varieties except “Oak and Hickory.” This will give me a good idea of where mature stands of oaks are and under them the deer’s favorite food, acorns.

As far as map tools go, you can select multiple waypoints with the onX. These would include stand locations. A friend with an onX app who has never been to your hunting area before can go to the stand you chose for him without you holding his hand.

You’ve marked crop fields, oak groves and now you want to mark bedding areas — all of this, on your phone and laptop. Two more waypoints you want to mark are rubs and scrapes. This should give you a good idea of a buck’s core area and travel patterns.

Now you want to combine all these features to make your time in the woods more productive. You will want to locate bedding areas in close proximity to the crop fields and pick a good stand site. You can even switch from satellite to a 3-D or topo map to assess the terrain. Stay with me, this gets better.

Identify an oak/hickory ridge just off of crop fields and you’ve found a magical spot for deer.

Another setting for your tree stand sites is “Optimal Wind.” The app will let you know if you have the optimal wind direction to hunt that stand at a given time. You look at the stand location and determine the optimal wind direction. Say it’s North and Northwest. You save those. Just before you take to the woods on your next hunt, select “Show Current Wind.” A green icon will pop up for good wind and red for bad. Orange is iffy.

There is even a “Waypoint Radius” selection. This might be useful for locating your stand within 100 yards of a bedding area, a funnel or a food source before dark.

The onX Hunt app even has a folder system where you can put all of your different properties in separate folders.

Hunting the HNF can be daunting, but with this app there are spots with concentrations of deer. A nearby water source is important, too. What an aide this is for an old, seasoned hunter like me — if I can figure out how to use it.

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Congratulations to Patrick Stone and Steve Jeffers for taking second place in the Lake Hartwell, SC Crappie USA Classic. They are sponsored by Big Daddy Baits, Ozark Rods and Fish-On Tackle.

Rick Bramwell’s column appears Thursday in The Herald Bulletin sports section. To contact him, email rickbramwell@aol.com.

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