Cellphones: Everyone has one of these devices and hardly anyone can put it down. Let’s explore the pros and cons of our beloved smartphones in hunting situations and discuss ways to find a balance between productive usage and disruptive, addictive tendencies when afield.
Most people find cellphones extremely beneficial when bowhunting. For example, they:
- use the compass to orient themselves.
- use the flashlight to walk to or from their stand in the dark.
- use the camera to take photos of their kills.
- use a weather app to check the wind direction.
- and download hunting apps, access GPS navigation, and report their harvests through a web browser or their state wildlife agency app.
These features come in handy mostly before and after the hunt, when hunters walk to and from their honey hole.
However, more and more hunters are using their devices to pass the time when they’re actively hunting or pursuing game. They text friends, play games, check social media, or read hunting articles online. Although those activities seem harmless, they are distracting and often result in missed opportunities because critters can appear and disappear in an instant. Cellphones can also spook critters if a hunter forgets to switch their device to vibrate. When it pings or rings within earshot of a wild animal, the creature is as good as gone.
So, what are you to do? If you won’t ditch your smartphone or switch back to a flip phone, try one of these methods to limit cellphone use when afield.
- Make It Hard to Access: Leave your phone at the bottom of your tree stand or in the bottom of your pack. The more difficult it is to access, the less you’ll use it. Even logging out of social media accounts makes them cumbersome to use, especially if you forget your password. Better yet, leave it at home or your hunting camp alongside a written hunt plan that details where you’ll be and when you plan to be back, for safety reasons.
- Put It on Airplane Mode: Research from 2021 shows that people tap, swipe, and click an average of 2,617 times per day. Most of those interactions result from notifications that alert the user to something new. Setting a phone to airplane mode during a hunt can help hunters resist the urge to look at what’s happening in the digital world, allowing them to focus on what’s happening in their physical world. An incoming deer, perhaps?
- Give It to Your Hunting Partner: If you’re hunting with someone, ask them to hold your phone and tell them not to give it back until you’re done. Most people are attached to their phone and could care less about someone else’s. Plus, it shows them you’re focused and serious about the hunt.
- Go Old School with Walkie-Talkies: If you like telling your hunting buddies that a doe is headed their way, but you hate the impulsive tendency you must access Facebook every five minutes, try using walkie-talkies. They’re a good happy medium. You could even agree to turn them off and only check in every hour to avoid awkward interruptions.
- Head Afield with a Half-Charged Battery: Cellphones die. If you enter the woods with your battery at 50% or less, you’ll be more likely to resist the temptation to use your phone because it might die. And, if you use your phone’s flashlight or compass, or like to have it in case of emergency, it becomes easier to avoid since you need the life it has left to get out safely.
Portions of this article originally appeared on the Bowhunters United website.