Navigation Tips: how to use a handheld gps

Nowadays, hunting is not just taking your weapon out there and pulling the trigger, not anymore. Actually, this subsistence activity has changed a lot when compared to itself decades ago with the presence of new technology. One of the most noticeable things to mention here is a handheld GPS, which is maybe not strange to you at all if you are a real hunter.

The thing is that even when you’ve got the technology like a GPS, you still can get lost anytime if you don’t have many experiences. However, remember that not everyone can adopt new technology quickly, me neither. To be honest, I had many problems trying to figure out how to use a handheld GPS.

If you just bought a new GPS but have no idea how to use it yet, this article is definitely what you’re looking for.

How to use a handheld GPS

Step 1: Scouting

No matter where you hunt, the first step of hunting process is always scouting. If you don’t know, “scouting” means using computer maps to understand the landscape better. There are a lot of resources out there for you to download maps such as, Google earth, and so on.


Image source: Garmin

Mark the promising locations on your PC and then transfer the waypoints to your handheld GPS. When you’re out there scouting on your foot, you can see how these waypoints look in the real life. Of course, sometimes, the areas will not appear the same way they look on your maps.

Step 2: Marking signs

A handheld GPS can help you find direct routes to the hunting spot quickly even when you have never thought of the spot before. Furthermore, it can also help you mark new sign during the whole hunting season easily.

Marking signs

Image source:

Don’t forget to take notes of what you see and mark down all the things you see on your unit. Always keep track of deer sightings but you’re not used to typing the information into your device, then a notebook will be the best choice. For me, it always takes longer to type the info into my GPS so I mark down sightings very waypoint in my little notebook.

Step 3: Planning your hunt

After scouting and hunting the area with your device, you’ve got enough information for the hunting trip. Besides, because you’ve already marked points anytime sign shows up as well as notated the movement of the animals, it’s easy to see patterns emerge. This way, you will get an idea of where they are moving to and so on.

Therefore, it’s time to plan your hunt.

I always look for and waypoint trees which are the best for hanging stands

Image source: Night Hawk Publications

For me, I always look for and waypoint trees which are the best for hanging stands. I never forget to consider the wind direction during the season as well as other pertinent information. After that, I record a waypoint and name it whatever I like using any icon the GPS provides.

Finally, I will scatter woods stands around the hunting area. With a handheld GPS, you will find it very easy to move to the stands and back again anytime you want. If you lose track of their locations, you can remove the stands as long as your device has already recorded the locations.

Step 4: Blood trailing

When it comes to how to use a handheld GPS for hunting, it’s not all about scouting and marking. In fact, you can also use the device for blood trailing.

When you take an accurate shot at a deer, it can only go down within a few dozen yards of the location it was shot. But, you know, that is just the theory. In the real life, it is not perfect like that. Actually, the wounded deer can totally go a long way before it completely falls.

Therefore, it’s not easy to trail the blood, especially when the darkness comes. You may have to follow a circuitous trail and even wade through a river along the way. Additionally, the blood trail is not always consistent, so sometimes, you may lose it. But, with a handheld GPS, you can mark the last sure sign and it can be used as a reference point of travel line.

Step 5: Going back

Now, you’ve got the deer, but what to do next to get back? Generally, there are audio clues which can help you keep your bearings. For example, you can hear the traffic noise from planes taking off, nearby highway, trains passing on a railway. When you hunt in an unfamiliar land where these sounds don’t exist, what do you have to do? Don’t worry because a GPS is the best insurance.

When you finally locate the animal, it’s just the matter of time to get back to your initial position with a GPS. Your device will tell you where you are, how far you’ve gone, how far you have to go, and so on. Actually, a compass can do this work, but a GPS is more than enough.

Final thoughts

Those 5 steps are just a complete process I actually apply for every hunt. Actually, these are also 5 basic steps you can take to use a GPS. Last, I hope you guys got what you want, learned how to use a handheld GPS for your next hunt and found my article helpful.