With all this time spent at home the last few months, I have been dreaming of all the potential hunts that I may have this fall and have started to plan. Like most hunters these days, I enter many draws spanning across the country. Personally, I have applied for 7 states this year alone. With all the possible draw opportunities, it leaves you trying to figure out how you will spread out your scouting time over the summer. I rely heavily on E-scouting. After all, a hunter can only be in one place at a time. I have always used OnX as my preferred hutting app and the premium version has been my go-to on a state by state basis. This year I decided to try out the Elite membership and have been evaluating it over the past few weeks.
I would have to say that the greatest benefit to the Elite membership is the ability to have access to private and public land ownerships for all 50 states. Whether you hunt in the western states or you are a heartland hunter in the Midwest, this feature alone is worth the money.
The feature allows a hunter to seamlessly go from one state to another and be able to find public and private land boundary’s along with ownership listings. I have found this to be an essential tool when you are trying to figure out a new state. It not only provides you with an ability to decipher the sometimes-complicated public/private boundaries, but I found that it gives me a peace of mind when I am in the field. There is an overall sense of comfort knowing that I am in the right area, whether that is a piece of public or a piece of private that I have permission to hunt.
I hunt many states that are limited on public land access. However, with OnX’s Private Land Layer feature, I have been able to establish great relationships and met many mutual contacts.
One of the greatest barriers to entry I hear from most new hunters is access to public land. For example, I have recently spent time in states with large rivers that are considered public below the High-Water line. When you factor in the number of small islands and water that are below this line, it greatly opens the hunting opportunity for the state. The problem that I have run into is access to these water sources in a legal fashion.
OnX has an answer to help you figure this out. The “Possible Access” Layer is a great tool that can help a hunter find easements or public access points to gain access to public land. I will say that it is called “Possible Access” for a reason. I have run into a couple of instances where the app said there could be a possible access point, but when I arrived I found that it was not. This is a situation where you as a hunter will have to do your homework. Access and easements are complicated and sometimes contentious issues, but the app does a great job of pointing you to the possible areas where there could be access.
The integration of state regulations and boundaries is just another helpful feature of the app. I was recently scouting for an upcoming hunt in Missouri when I noticed a green boundary line that I had never seen before. After zooming in, the boundary represented the delineating boundary where you’re able to use 2 antlerless permits, instead of 1. These features allow a new hunter to the area, who may not know where county lines are drawn or where the boundaries are drawn, avoid a possible mistake, or take advantage of the regulations. Of course, you should always consult the regulations of each state that you are in if you have a question. These layers allow you to have a reference when you are in the field when you may not have the ability to access those resources elsewhere.
The truth is that there is truly no substitute for actually getting out and scouting an area but, with the pace and schedule of everyday life, scouting is simply not possible for most hunters. Since we are so limited on the amount of time that we get in the field each year, it is crucial that we get to know an area as well as we can to maximize our chances of being successful. The OnX App can greatly help with that. I would highly recommend upgrading to the Elite Version, even if you only hunt a couple of states. I have used it and found some great diamonds in the rough when it comes to access points and public land areas that wouldn’t be available to a hunter who doesn’t do their homework. I have even been lucky enough to get some private land permission by having information available. If you are a year-round outdoorsman I would highly recommend the $99.99 per year option. This will save you some dough over the year, but if you are a hunter who only wants this for the fall, the $14.99 per month option is great for the seasonality of hunting seasons. Either option comes with all the same great features and benefits. What I have written about are just a few of my favorite features that I use the most. You really must try the App and dig into it yourself to find out what you enjoy and which ones you will use the most for your area.