Skip to main content

Bowhunting Tips: Optics, Apps, Thermal Imaging

Bowhunting Tips: Optics, Apps, Thermal Imaging
Be smart, efficient and aggressive for a great bowhunting season. (Shutterstock image)

Three bowhunting tips will help you get a plan and pattern locked in before you draw your first arrow on a deer.

Tech tools can help you plan your next deer bowhunting trip. (Shutterstock image)

By Paul E. Moore

1. High-Quality Optics

Expect to be looking through glass for long periods, so your eyes will appreciate the best you can afford. While binoculars or even a monocular works okay for simple surveilling, a spotting scope is a much better option. Spotting scopes are much easier on the eyes for extended viewing, plus they are easily mounted to a tripod, monopod or the truck window.

Bookmark the daily Best Game & Fish Times

2. Thermal Imagers

Just recently, they have become much more affordable. Leupold's LTO-Tracker and Flir's Scout TK are less than $1,000 and have a lot of the features of more expensive models. You can put them to good use by scouting along roadways or field roads during low light or at night. Antlers in velvet are a sight to see with thermal imagers. Of course, make sure the use of thermal imaging or night-vision apparatus is legal in the area being scouted. During the season, where allowed, they make excellent tracking devices if the deer doesn't fall exactly where you want it to.

Stan Potts Iowa Bowhunt (North American Whitetail video)

3.  Apps Are Where It's At

If you are not using apps to help you scout, you are at a disadvantage. ScoutLook, HuntStand and Powderhook are among a few out there that perform as promised. Lots of hunters at least look at a map of their hunting area or perhaps obtain an aerial photo or two. But having them, and nearly an unlimited number of views of your land, will cut down on in-the-field scouting time. In fact, hunters often are able to pinpoint exact locations to intercept deer without ever leaving the kitchen table.


Aerial photos are extremely valuable for this purpose. By putting in a little time studying the photos, a hunter may find pinch points, funnels and other areas where deer are likely to travel in fairly confined areas. Spots where the woods funnel down to a narrow strip are easily spotted in an aerial photo.

Other spots to look for are tree lines along fences or ditches that deer may use for concealment when traveling from one section of woods to another. Openings within the woods, field edges, ponds and waterways are all brought into perspective when looking at the view from above.

In-app topographical maps are a tremendous tool that many hunters do not use to their best advantage. Learning to use a topo map is really not all that difficult, but once a hunter gets the hang of it, ridges, draws, saddles and much more pop off the paper. Couple this information with the aerial photos and it paints a tremendous picture for the hunter. Add in the notes and sketches from vehicle surveillance, and the puzzle is almost complete.

New features come online every day. One of our favorites is OnXmaps Hunt's land-ownership feature. You can zoom in over your hunting land and find out who owns what parcels nearby. You can also randomly look for land from above, and see if it's public or private and what kind of access you'd need to hunt it.

If you're not using an app in your scouting, it's time.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Subscribe Now and Get a Full Year

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now