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Why Carry Your Smart Phone Into the Woods?
Monday, November 4, 2013
One of the great things about hunting blind is that solitary time from your arrival in the blind until the woods start to wakeup. Until then, you can sit and think about anything you choose.

Some days, I don't want to think, I just want to "be". As in "be in the woods", or "be alone..or quiet... or empty to everything".

Those are the times you realize hunting is about a whole lot more than harvesting.

Sometimes, I take time to plan, make notes or even do work on my mind out of the way - before going into the hunter mode as the sun starts to come up.

In today's wired world, there are also things you can do on your smart phone during that quiet time to make yourself a more effective hunter. There are plenty of answers to the question "why in the world would you take your phone into the woods?"

The connected world can play a big part in hunting- and in ways other than checking in your harvest or sending your friends photos. Social media's part of it, but you can use your smartphone for all sorts of things, even determining what to do after reinjuring a bum knee.

Texting with someone isn't always a bad thing. Especially when it comes to deer movement.

The compass (above) helped me to establish sun/wind direction and establish my shooting lanes - before daylight -while my camera recorded the activity of deer around and nearly in- my blind (below). Jim Shepherd/OWDN photos.



My secret smartphone weapon wasn't an app, it was a book. One shooting technique suggested in "How to Shoot Like A Navy SEAL" made the single (successful) shot I took during my hunt simpler and removed a habit I suspect caused misses in the past. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
Each night, I exchanged phone numbers with the next day's guide. The next day we exchanged information on everything from wind direction/intensity, temperatures and the movement of hogs, turkey and deer across the field where I was hunting.

But the use of the phone didn't end there. I used a weather app to check the forecasts-and determine the exact daylight time each morning. Then, instead of risking my getting involved in something and forgetting I needed to be hunting and not typing, I set a reminder alarm for 45 minutes before daylight. That gave me 15 minutes to get re-situated for hunting before the legal shooting window arrived. Since the buck I finally did harvest first came into sight with about 10 minutes left in that pre-daylight time -and I'd been answering email instead of watching the woods, it absolutely helped.

My compass app was used to establish the direction of the sunrise and wind direction in relation to my hunting setup.

The photo and video functions not only helped record my success, it proved to fellow hunters I really wasn't exaggerating about looking at as many as 9 deer at one time. Or how close they came without my being "busted". The blurring in the foreground is the window ledge of my hunting blind- they were so close I couldn't get the phone any higher without their spotting it.

But the smartest help from my smart phone wasn't an app; it was a book I'd been reading on the way to Oklahoma. The e-book "How to Shoot Like A Navy SEAL" written by SEAL firearms instructor Chris Sajnog was a great insight into very effective shooting technniques on the plane. But in the blind, I found myself re-reading his suggestions, then putting those suggestions on grip, trigger control and mental preparedness directly to my rifle.

Without a primer, it was safe for dry fire and work on trigger technique. With the EOTech optics aboard, a modern muzzleloader became the platform for trying the modern sporting rifle techniques Sajnog suggested - without any distractions. One thing Sajnog suggests, a fundamental change in the way I now hold any rifle, stabilized my offhand shooting. It also answered my questions about the effectiveness of the support hand forward technique used by many 3-gun shooters. That newly-acquired technique so stabilized my rifle that I took my single hunting shot nearly 30 yards further than those distances I'd pre-ranged with my Bushnell rangefinder binoculars.

I'm very conservative about ranges when hunting. Unlike competition or target shooting, I just don't take shots I make 90% of the time. Instead, ranges are shortened to where I'm one-hundred percent confident in my making them - with or without optics. Sanjog's instruction stretched that distance, but that's a story for another time. Let's just say Navy SEALS make very effective hunters.

--Jim Shepherd

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