When a hunter takes a shot, and the buck leaves the area, the hunter may get lost when he attempts to follow the deer, or the blood trail. I become lost most easily when I have to blood trail a deer, because my total concentration focuses on finding the deer. I don’t concern myself with the location of my stand, the direction I must travel to return to my car, or what direction I’ll follow along the trail. Since I often hunt along flood plains and in river-bottom swamps and cane thickets, I may have to follow many trails through dense cover and unfamiliar territory. Once I pinpoint the deer’s location, two thoughts immediately come to my mind: how will I get this deer out of the woods, and which way is my vehicle? Next, I ask myself…
* how far am I from the car?
* how far am I from my tree stand?
* when I come back to look for the deer after going to get help, will I find the deer again?
I can find answers to all these questions stored in my hand-held GPS receiver. If I have marked my vehicle and tree stand as waypoints, I can turn-on my GPS receiver to learn where I am in relationship to my surroundings. I also can see the shortest route back to my tree stand or my vehicle, and I can determine the distance to each of these locations. My receiver also will tell me how much time will be required to drag the deer back to the vehicle. If I choose to leave the deer to get help with recovering the animal, the GPS tells me how long I must travel before I’ll reach my car. By marking the spot where I’ve found the deer, I easily can return to that same spot with help and bring the deer out of the woods, either during nighttime or daytime. I can look at my GPS receiver and see the course the deer has taken from the place where I’ve shot him to the site where I’ve found him. I can pinpoint not only the direction and the course the deer has traveled, but also the distance the buck has moved before I locate him. However, I find my GPS receiver most valuable when a hunting buddy asks me to help him blood trail his deer in territory I never have hunted. When I hunt in a new area, such as another state, I find the receiver’s information crucial to my success in recovering downed game and also for my ability to get that game out of the woods quickly and efficiently.
Your GPS Has Many Other Uses:
Blackpowder hunters participate in other outdoor activities, and they can use their GPS receivers as navigational devices for many of them. I utilize my GPS not only for blackpowder hunting but also to find waterfowl hot spots deep in the swamp before daylight. I also have used my GPS to locate and store the sites where coveys of quail live. Too, my GPS has led me to crappie hotspots during the spring and summer and has enabled me to find drop-offs and ledges where big bass hold throughout the summer months. When I go to the coast, I use my GPS receiver to locate offshore reefs, sunken ships and even submerged military tanks where snapper and grouper concentrate. When I backpack and hike, I use my GPS to pinpoint trailheads, locate campsites and steer me to the mouths of caves I want to explore.
GPS receivers also provide non-sporting advantages. I’ve found that my grandchildren, when using my GPS receivers, remain content for hours during long car trips over summer vacation. With the receiver plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter, they can entertain themselves as if with a video game. However, the GPS receiver provides more than entertainment. They learn navigation skills too, while they use my receiver. GPS receivers have increased my hunting skills and also have enhanced all my outdoor experiences and adventures. Now I can move through the woods and across the water with greater precision and ease. I can hunt without worry of getting lost in dim light or bad-weather conditions.
By John E. Phillips, longtime outdoorsman and avid angler and hunter