Technology and the Outdoors

Technology and how we plan our outdoor pursuits has gotten even better over the years.

A few years back I was in the coffee shop real early in the morning before a hunt. I was on my tablet looking at the weather and river information.  A gentleman waiting for coffee said, “I have never seen that.” I asked what he was referring too.  He replied, “You just look out of place, dressed for hunting and using a computer.” I laughed and said I was looking at what the tidal conditions would be later.

Later that same day I was talking to someone about the water flow on a river and the guy asked me how I knew what the flow was or what the predicted flow would be.  I explained I used the streamflow data from the USGS.  He said he had never heard of this before.  This is not the first time I have had someone comment on how they did not know how to figure out the tide or river flow online.

The internet can be a very useful tool in gathering information.  You just need to start looking.  The words you type into a Google search are very important as to how quickly you can weed out the websites that do not have what you are looking for. With today’s technology, the internet is always in the palm of your hand.

As an example, I use the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) Stream flow website for real time information on river gauge height and CFS (Cubic Feet per Second).  Now this website is not fun to navigate, but once you find the page you are looking for, you can add it to your favorites.  For the USGS go to Waterwatch.  This is a good starting point.

Some website such as the USGS are difficult to navigate and some are easy.  You just have to look around their website to find your information.

There are several websites that also have tide information.  Most gather their information from NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) When I want tidal information I use NOAA, you just have to know where to look. Again, the NOAA website may not be fun to navigate, but when you find what you are looking for, it is a gold mine.
Try NOAA tides and currents

For hunting, hiking, and other stuff I need to check out a topo map for I use; Onxmaps. With smartphone technology, you can now see maps online and offline. It will show you GMU boundaries, who owns property and more.

Information sharing via social networking and forums are another great way to get information about an area, opportunity or internet resource you can use to your advantage.  One example here in Washington State is  Forums such as this can be a great help in learning more about what is going on and where, but you can start spending a lot of time on the forum, than in the outdoors.

Even better now are some of the local outdoor shows that can be found on television, radio and yes, even Facebook and YouTube. With the exception of the television shows, I just listen to the program while I am driving. Many of these also have podcasts.

Technology can be used to waste time or save time. 

If used correctly, you can save a great deal of time if you use it to plan your outings, whether hunting, fishing, camping or whatever you plan on doing outdoors.

Many of us now use smart phones, which are little computers.  There are many apps that can help you as well.  In essence these are mini versions of what you can find on the internet. 

I currently us IOS. I have the following apps, which I use frequently. OnXmaps, Google Earth, River Data, Rivercast, Ebb Tide, Predict Wind, Windy, NOAA Weather and a few more. All of these were free.  All of these apps can deliver whatever you can find on your computer, right at your hand. I would suggest there are even some apps out there I do not know about, yet.

So get connected and find some information that will help you get outdoors.  You can save time and be informed before you get out there.