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Even outdoors, there’s an app for that

Hunter using the MDC Hunting App. (Credit: MDC)

Hunter using the MDC Hunting App. (Credit: MDC)

As much as I don’t like it, these super computers in our pockets we call phones are becoming more and more ingrained in our everyday lives. Take a walk on a college campus and you could argue the phones have already taken over. These contraptions are our camera, photo album, maps, weather report, alarm clock, and so much more. And yes, they do work as phone, but actually talking to another human is probably one of the least used options. Nowadays, they are even a guide to the outdoors.

I’m guilty of using my phone for outdoor enjoyment. I’ll admit, they can sure make things easier by offering endless information. I’ve sat in many meetings with organizational leaders and state agency employees debating on how to engage the next generation of outdoors enthusiasts. With one breath, someone is talking about how we must convince today’s youth to put down their phones and go outside. With another, we are developing and launching applications, or “apps”, to assist them with doing so. It’s a catch-22.

The number of apps available to enhance outdoor experiences is staggering. If you can think of an app to assist you in some way, it likely exists.  There are apps that provide maps of trails and rivers, weather reports, property information, best treestand locations, best times of day to fish, and so on and so on. The following five apps are ones I use regularly, and that I believe you would also benefit from downloading.

onX Hunt

Private property lines are often misunderstood. More than once, I have found myself in a dispute with another hunter over a property border. Even when no one is trying to be deceptive, misinformation can lead to trespassing. OnX maps solves this problem. Basically, these are digital plot maps that tell you who the owner of the property is, how large the property is, shows all the property lines and more. Knowing where you stand is good information legally and neighborly. This app has a free trial of seven days. After that, it’s $29.99 per year for one state, or $99.99 for the whole country.

Weather Channel

Maybe it’s another sign of growing older, but I check the weather constantly. There are plenty of apps out there that give the information I’m looking for, but the Weather Channel app provides everything I need, including temperature, wind, rain, sunrise and sunset, pressure and more. Being prepared for the elements is an important aspect of enjoying the outdoors. A quick click on the Weather Channel let’s you know if you’re going to need that rain jacket or not. This app is free.

MO Hunting

The MO Hunting app is the official hunting app of the Missouri Department of Conservation. This app is one I really like and use frequently. The app lists all the Missouri hunting season dates. It keeps track of your licenses, which you can purchase using the app. You can also use it to telecheck your deer and turkey, and it keeps track of your past telechecks. You need to know your Conservation Number to create your profile and log in the first time. This app is free. The MDC also offers MO Fishing, MO Outdoors and MO Conservationist Magazine. All also free.

Audubon Bird Guide

When sitting in a treestand or paddling a river, I am passing a lot of time by paying attention to the birds. Although I rarely set out specifically to birdwatch, doing so almost always becomes part of whatever adventure I’m on. I use the Audubon Bird Guide quite frequently to help me identify what bird I am looking at. This complete field guide has over 800 species of North American birds in its database. You can keep track of the birds you have identified. This app is free.

GoWild

Most people like to be connected. We do this through social media and through an endless sea of content on the web. GoWild is a place for outdoor enthusiasts, including anglers and hunters, to connect and share information. There are many categories to choose from where you can learn from folks who enjoy the same outdoor activities as you. This growing community of outdoors enthusiasts is one I enjoy regularly perusing for tips and tactics. This app is free.

See you down the trail…
Brandon Butler

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