Scouting is a never-ending ritual. Don’t lie to me. Whether you’re traveling for work or heading to a family reunion you’re scanning fields, and forests for new predator set-up opportunities. You can add even more information to your scouting database by adding an important battery-operated gadget to your gear. The device I’m referring to is your GPS. Many of you have GPS units, mine is a Garmin Oregon 650t. If you want to make every scouting trip as beneficial as possible (gas prices will go up you know), bring along your GPS and use it for everything. Your scouting efficiency will increase in more ways than you can believe. Follow these tips and you’ll not only save yourself from being lost, but also be a better predator hunter.
1.Note where you’re seeing predators. You can mark locations via waypoint where you’re consistently seeing predators traveling, watering and bedding. Animals follow patterns and will return time, and time again to these habitat zones. When you visit with landowners or public land managers, make notes where they see predators as well. Now connect the dots for great set-up sites.
2.Mark stand or ambush locations. Certain funnels, pinch points, edges and travel corridors stand out from other terrain for calling predators. Keep a careful note of these locations, with specific waypoints on successful stands. If a stand doesn’t produce you can look at your waypoint database and move quickly to the next spot.
3.Track a route for the shortest and least obtrusive access route to your hunting site. Whether you take a front-door, a backdoor or a cliff-hanging route to your hunting location, track it on your GPS so you can find it again and again. How often have you left a location after sunset and got hit in the face by a series of branches that weren’t there in daylight? Your GPS can keep you on track daylight or dark.
4.Mark parking locations and camping locations for quick access or the location of remote camps. Some areas offer better parking and better campsites — like those near trailheads, near water and in flat locales. Keep track of them with GPS waypoints and you won’t be struggling if you arrive after dark or before sunrise.
5.Access locations to haul out your take. Once you find success you still have to get the animal to your vehicle. Sometimes the route in isn’t always the best route out when packing a load. Whether you note an old ATV trail or a trail leading to a highway 2,000 feet below, mark it for easy extraction.
6.Keep track of adjoining landowner boundaries including public ones. This one is important to prevent trespassing charges, but also to take advantage of the “grass-is-greener” effect. Predators, like most game, cross boundaries. Catch them when they are on your side of the fence for a successful ending to your hunt. The best program I’ve found for my Garmin Oregon GPS is from onXmaps Hunting GPS Maps. Whether you download online or purchase an SD card, you’ll have all the information for boundaries and landowner status to keep you in the hunt, and out of trouble.
Your GPS is a helpful item. In addition to maps they provide sunrise/sunset information, trip computer, a compass, elevation, area calculator, calendar, best hunt/fish times, alarm clock and even a flashlight. There’s more than that, but I’m out of room. In brief, use your GPS!