Jim Bennett

was up at 6 a.m. this morning to go scout turkeys and get permission to hunt on private lands where I had spotted some turkeys the day before. I was driving around when I saw a half dozen big black blobs in the distance next to some brown blobs. Once I got my binoculars on them, I confirmed what I already knew. The black blobs were Tom Turkeys strutting around all fanned out and hen turkeys (brown blobs) feeding on last fall’s waste corn in a field. My 11-year old son Brady was suppose to go with me but getting out of bed proved too much for him, but I want him to have a fun and successful hunt so I was scouting without him.

Back in the day, I would have simply driven to the closest farm and asked permission to hunt from the landowner but those days are long gone. Most small farms have been bought up by corporate farms. Land developers and rural housing developments have taken up the land that once was the small farms. It seemed impossible to figure out who owned the land and finding them to get permission to hunt was nearly impossible. Technology has changed that and an App that can be downloaded on your phone.

It’s called onX Map App or onX Hunt App. It’s a way to get an edge with what users feel is the most intelligent and accurate GPS mapping tool for anyone, especially hunters in the field or in your car. It’s like the GPS system in your car or on your phone we use to find our way on streets and highways. Instead of finding a store to shop or the home of a friend in the country, it’s a tool to find your way around in the woods, on water or wilderness trails.

Take for instance the day I spotted those turkeys in the field. All I had to do was open the App on my phone and it showed me right where I was sitting in my car. It also showed me the world around me. In this case I had the App set to satellite imagery so I not only had the location, I had trees, ponds, fields and property lines. The amazing part I love is by simply touching the land where the turkeys were, as if by magic up popped the landowner’s name and address from public tax records. Some lived near, others far and a few out of state. Now finding the landowner was in reach and permission to hunt that land is doable.

The App also has the ability to show you things in what they call “layers” that you can use to create the type of App that would serve your needs to fullest advantage. These layers would start out with which states you wanted, private lands listings with or without names, public lands and more. On my App public lands come up in a green shade which is easy to spot. You can also use tools to add waypoints, measure lines, and mark your location so you can go out all day and wander around and find your way back. It also allows you to download maps onto your device to use in areas where you get no phone service and we all know how frustrating that can be. The App has 121 million private properties, 985 million acres of public land, 421 map overlays and 400,000 miles of trails. You can sync all your data to any of your devices such as computers and laptops.  Even old guys like me can figure it out.

Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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