Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gear Review: Scout Look Weather

So, here I am, 4:26pm on a Sunday, sitting in a climbing stand on the edge of the woods.  Typing on a netbook.  Crazy right?  Well, I should have about an hour before the first deer sneaks her way out of the darkened tree canopy and finds her way into shooting range for my quick and silent compound bow.
The reason I am working on this now is twofold.  One, I need to get this product review done, and two; this is the perfect time to write about what is going on with this particular hunt.
GPS systems became a great tool for the outdoors person several years ago.  Utilizing the array of satellites put in orbit by the government in order to help one find his position globally protected the hiker, hunter, or fisher from getting lost.  They developed from a display showing longitude and latitude so you could find yourself on a map, to displaying satellite and terrain images.  Along the way, the more bells and whistles the GPS system had, the more expensive the unit would cost.  Downloadable maps, some ranging several hundred dollars in cost, were neat features, but unless you were a diehard outdoorsman that traveled to exotic and unfamiliar locations, they were questionable as to whether they were worth it.
Now I like to have the tools necessary for me to be successful and safe, but I do not want to carry around a small army’s worth of supplies on my excursions.  With the GPS functions of the current smart phones, I quickly adapted to several applications available on it instead of carrying around excessive amounts of electronics.   Free mapping and weather programs were great, as I could not only pinpoint my location, but I could see weather as it developed so as not to get caught off guard on an approaching rain shower or storm.

Screen shot from ScoutLookWeather.com indicating
stand locations, expected deer movement, and scent cone.
The orange arrows were added by me to show movement.
A couple of weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to test and review a website and smart phone application called ScoutLookWeather.  It seemed interesting enough, so I agreed.  Before downloading it on my Android based phone, I checked the website: ScoutLookWeather.com.  The website was easy enough to get a grasp of without a lot of instruction.  After the download, the application worked the same way as the website.  Also, I noticed it had immediately synced between the website and the phone application.

There she is!
After checking the app, according to my scent cone (a green cone that indicates where your scent will travel based on current conditions) I should hunt the northern stand on the property.  My scent would travel right into the path the deer usually take to the field from the southern stand.  So, that is where I am hunting.

Blood soaked arrow does
not mean easy to trail!

Sure enough, I had a deer come out to my left about 6pm.  After the deer paused and offered a broadside shot just 15 yards from the stand, I released the arrow for the kill.  While waiting in the stand, 10 minutes later 3 more deer came out to my right but came no closer than 40 yards from the stand.  I also noticed looking back at the southern stand, several deer in the field where I expected them to come out also.  If I had hunted the southern stand, those deer would likely have caught my scent in the slight breeze.

Hard to follow at night with only this much sign spaced
several yards apart.

While the shot was true, the deer retreated hard into the woods.  I had a hard time finding bloodshed, but after a 20 minute or so search, I spotted small drops of blood.  The track was on.  I used the way marker feature on the ScoutLook app, using the GPS from the phone to indicate the blood trail.  I proceeded to do this each time I lost the trail so I would have a reference point to come back to.  This was extremely handy as I was in the thick brush and swamp, and light was non-existent except from my LED Lenser headlamp.  After following the trail approximately 150 yards, I lost the blood.  It was now around 9pm and I was crawling on all fours in order to track the blood I did find for the last 30 minutes.  I decided to resume the search in the morning, as the shadows from the brush limited my site lines.  Using the satellite imagery feature of ScoutLook, I made my way back out.  If not for that, this could have easily been one of those cases where the hunter gets stuck in the woods overnight.  Again, limited vision, a low concealing canopy of trees, and not so much as a single star shining through offered no help in keeping my bearings.

Blood trail way markers set
on ScoutLook.
The next day, I worked my way back into the woods, following the blood trail markers I had placed on ScoutLook.  This worked well, and I found the trail I needed to find.  After a couple of more hours, I finally found the deer.  This would never have taken place if I had not used ScoutLook for way markers the evening before.

Decoy set-up for incoming
waterfowlas indicated
by ScoutLook.
ScoutLook is not only good for the application I tested it for, but it offers a set-up style map for waterfowl hunting, it can be used for hiking and other outdoor activities, it has a drift-point for fishing, and even has a golf mode to help with wind direction on the links.  It provides a cache for photos while in the outdoors, and it will have a log book style feature in the future.  One feature I did not have to use on ScoutLook is a radar map of your area.  This is great for when inclement weather is in the forecast.  It will allow you the opportunity to enjoy your activity until the very last moment.

Screen shot of inclement weather on ScoutLook.

Overall, ScoutLook appears to be a winner.  ScoutLook is easy to use and figure out how to use (no manual-just help screens), is cheap ($1.99 over Android Marketplace, but is available on IOS also), and syncs automatically with the regular website so you can check your locations online and on your phone.  Again, $1.99 for what some GPS systems would charge $199.00 for.  The only thing I could not test, and could not find a direct answer on, was if ScoutLook will save your location maps in areas where only GPS (no cellular) service worked on the smart phone.  I know it will save your markers, just not sure if the maps must download through the cell service each time.  I will continue to use ScoutLook and I look forward to using the log book feature in the future.

This result would never had happened without ScoutLook.
Your results may vary!

 Want to read more reviews?  Bill Howard's Outdoors Reviews and GiveEmTheShaft Reviews

Bill Howard writes a weekly outdoors column for the Wilson Times and Yancey County News and the blog site Bill Howard's Outdoors. He is a Hunter Education and International Bowhunter Education instructor, lifetime member of the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, Bowhunter Certification Referral Service Chairman, member and official measurer of Pope and Young, and a regular contributor to North Carolina Bowhunter Magazine.

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