Using your GPS to improve your hunting

Recently I covered how to improve your fishing by using your GPS unit. Now, I will discuss how to improve your hunting by using your GPS unit.

Mainly your deer hunting techniques will be greatly improved, but it can easily apply to other types of game.

Winter has caused ground foliage to be limited, or at least knocked down a great deal. In addition, the leaves on deciduous trees have all but disappeared. These conditions now allow the hunter an opportunity to scout hunting areas and mark those that are of interest by using GPS units.

Doing so when there is no foliage will allow you to see rubs, tracks, scrapes and squirrel nests more clearly. Of course, knowing the deep holes in your duck pond is also a great benefit.

By marking these locations with your GPS unit, you will be able to see where the most-productive hunting areas are located what areas to avoid because of no activity or hazards. You might end up moving your stand to one of the new found areas.

Another benefit by going now is that the lower temperatures will allow you to get the job done without having to put up with sweating and other such summer time conditions. So dress warm in layers, tote along some extra water, some snacks, a comfortable hat, a machete, a decent map of the area and, of course your GPS receiver and hit the hunting trails.

Most GPS units allow you to lay a trail or track to and from an area, and allow you the opportunity to mark significant locations for future use.

Make an effort to understand how your GPS unit works. The use of your unit will give you an insight of the locations of your favorite hunting locations, especially if the unit has internal maps and/or if it can be connected to a computer-based mapping program to download the tracks, waypoints and routes.

Let’s start with the GPS unit. Most handheld units have antennae placed in coils concealed inside the tops of the cases, or they have protruding antennae that might or might not be movable.

In order for a GPS to work properly, the antenna must have a clear view of the sky. Even those new, highly sensitive receiver units need the antenna to be in a position that offers the best chance of receiving the satellite signals.

GPS signals are transmitted at a power roughly equivalent to a 50-watt domestic light bulb. The signals pass through space and our atmosphere before reaching your unit after a journey of about 12,500 miles.

I wear my GPS receiver in a pocket high on my off-gun shoulder. My wife made a “GPS” pocket on my hunting vest. It is in a nearly perfect position to receive GPS satellite signals.

I attach my GPS unit to the vest by a safety pin, its lanyard and a shoe lace. This protects the unit from falling and becoming lost in the event that I stoop over or lean when I am out and about.

You should start your day by clearing your track log. Either save your important existing tracks as a specific number that you might later use or delete them from the internal memory of the unit.

Most GPS units can accommodate up to 10 saved tracks. This will give you a clean slate of new tracks for your present journey in the woods. Be sure you turn on the track feature after clearing the existing memory.

If you are going to a tried-and-true stand, the unit will trace your steps to it. If you have to scout for a stand, the unit will show you the route you choose for getting to the stand.

Next, when you get to your starting point for getting into the woods, I turn on my unit and mark the position as a waypoint in the GPS. I call mine “Truck” as the location where my truck is park and I begin my trail journey.

Place the GPS in the highest pocket you have and start your trail or track.

You should now begin a wandering journey through your hunting area. Pay attention to any deer scrapes, rubs, bedding areas nests or turkey roosting trees and, of course, any antler drops” you encounter. Mark and save these locations for future use.

If you squirrel hunt, mark any sightings or nests locations. Also capture special locations such as trail junctions, creek crossings and other necessary navigation points. Mark the locations in your GPS as waypoints.

If you harvested an animal and can find the location, mark and save it. Use an alphanumeric name that will rekindle your memory as to what the name represents: Scrape 2, Ladder, Our Pond, N Blind, Rub 1, Scrape, Shot, XX cross, Shoot Ln1, 1ST turn, creek X, Ft of hill, etc., would be appropriate names for some of your waypoint names and be a reminder when you return to the area when using you GPS.

As you move through the terrain, the GPS will be recording your movements as a Track or Trail, depending on the nomenclature of the software in your unit. When you reach your stand area or the location you will use as a new stand, mark or save the location as a waypoint in your unit. I call mine “STAND-1.”

Save the existing track or trail you made since leaving the jump off spot. Again, be sure that the track feature is turned on and is beginning a fresh track. Now proceed back to your starting point; this will give you a fresh track for your return trip.

After marking your hunting area, and returning to your starting point, access the TRACKS and again save the return track to your starting point.

This will give you two distinct trails or tracks to your hunting area from your starting point.

When your outdoor day is complete, turn the GPS unit off. After returning to your home or camp, transfer the waypoints, tracks and trails to your data transfer program in your computer or to an appropriate mapping program such as the My Topo Terrain Navigator Pro that I use.

This will allow you to view the waypoints and trails on the mapping program. It will also allow you to have your waypoints projected on various maps, and with the My Topo program even on ortho-aerial photos.

Convert the tracks to a route. It is nearly impossible to follow a track or trail over and over again when leaving and accessng your hunting area. The trail line will be overwriting the previous and become thicker and thicker, and you will have to have the GPS in your hand in order to get to your destination.

By having the points saved as a route, the GPS will do the work for you. It will tell you where each turn is located, the name of the location, how far and bearing to the next turn and how long will it take you to reach the next leg point.

You might be surprised at the locations you traveled and where your stands are in relation to other features and other stands. You will have a big advantage knowing where game was frequenting in the past.

About Captain Paul Titus 192 Articles
Capt. Paul Titus has been responding to G.P.S questions on since 2000. He has been fishing and hunting in Louisiana since 1957. Titus holds a USCG license and conducts instruction courses in the use of GPS for private individuals and government agencies.

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