By Bill Buckley
I'll admit to being a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology. But I've recently discovered some waterfowling apps, such as those offered by onX Hunt, Ducks Unlimited, and others, and now I've become an aficionado of these useful digital tools.
If you're new to the world of apps, you will discover that there's plenty of redundancy among them, so you should choose those that complement each other. The onX Hunt app, for example, makes Google Maps far less relevant than it used to be. Some of us use these apps strictly as hunting tools, but they can be a lot of fun too. Here's a quick rundown of a few apps that might end up being game changers for you. Some are free, some offer premium features for a fee, and some are available only through a paid subscription.
Hunt Today's gold standard for scouting, determining land ownership, and marking and sharing hunting spots, onX is a truly remarkable tool that's well worth the price. Use it to discover potential duck holes, determine public or private property boundaries, save maps offline, and even see how far you'll need to walk. It also has weather information for your exact location. One caveat is that the property lines are only as good as the sources OnX uses, and they may not always be up to date.
This free app features current migration and hunting reports throughout the United States and Canada via DU alerts and reports from biologists and hunters. You can access weather forecasts and sunrise/sunset tables for your location as well as a handy countdown feature for keeping track of legal shooting hours. Need a refresher on bag limits and season dates for your location or help identifying waterfowl? Want to keep hunting journals and photographs? Track snow cover across the United States? It's all here, as well as informative articles and videos from Ducks Unlimited magazine, DU TV, and DU Films.
With this hunting and GPS app, you can precisely mark the location of blinds; create hunting reports for specific locations; access detailed weather forecasts, including maps with cloud, wind speed, and other useful overlays; get flyway reports and guide-service reviews anywhere in the country; and chat and share info with other "Duckrs." Use this app to look up seasons and bag limits and identify waterfowl with photos, descriptions, and calls. You can even access tide tables and track the sun's arc across the sky to help with precise blind orientation.
Most useful for novice hunters, DecoyPro offers several different apps to help you set effective decoy spreads for ducks and geese. Using simple diagrams, the app provides information about spread configurations for different conditions and environments and includes tips on spread size, how to hide, and other tactics.
The Duck ID App
Designed to make you a duck ID pro before you head to the blind, this in-depth app covers all of North America's duck species and provides practical information like flight characteristics, calls, detailed descriptions of drakes and hens, what to look for in low light, and how to distinguish between similar-looking species—pretty much everything you need to know to positively identify ducks before you pull the trigger. It also includes fun quizzes to test your knowledge.
They're a dime a dozen, and your head will spin trying to figure out which are best for you. Predicting weather in certain regions of the country, like the Great Plains, is notoriously difficult, and depending on where you live, some apps will be more accurate than others. Luckily, most weather apps are free, and apart from accuracy considerations you might settle on one with an interface you find easy to navigate. If, like me, you live where weather can be extremely localized, you might consider an app like NOAA Weather Radar Live or Dark Sky. Or maybe other popular apps like AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, or Weather Underground will suffice. Like all apps that you might use for waterfowling, the reliability and usefulness of weather apps will be your ultimate litmus tests.