If you are thinking of a hunting app, the two market leaders are Huntstand and MyFieldsports (called MyHunt outside the UK).
Huntstand from the USA has an American heritage steeped in hunts for whitetail deer. MyFieldsports is the UK version of MyHunt, and can’t escape its Germanic heritage. There’s a definite whiff of wild boar about it.
Both are slick and more than adequate for the job of recording your wildlife and your hunting areas. And both may help save shooting sports, by making the vast data on wildlife that we hunters/shooters build up automatically available to scientific bodies such as the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. It may become your duty, as a responsible shooter, to use at least one of these apps.
They are mapping apps, allowing you to overlay the boundaries of your hunting area or permission, what wildlife you see and what you shoot
On top of that, you can add photography and video to your entry, data such as what bird or animal, size, sex and condition. Both add weather conditions. They allow you to look at your ground from ‘above’, so you can see wildlife hotspots. Plus you can choose to share this information, so they can make managing a syndicate of deerstalkers or even a party of pheasant shooters easier.
They are super-advanced gamebooks and will provide you with much pleasure as you review your days in the field. Yet they have drawbacks.
Both apps take a little getting used-to. They are feature rich and they work smoothly, but you should devote an hour to each of them in the comfort of your home, perhaps with a glass of whisky, finding your way around, putting in some details of pretend hunts so that when you are out in the field, you can do work your app easily.
The main drawbacks are the graphics. Huntstand only offers US wildlife, so you have to accept that your roebuck is recorded with the outline of a whitetail, and you can’t distinguish between a pheasant, a grouse and a duck. Let’s look at some practical examples. Here’s what one end of the last drive on my local shoot looks like on each app:
I can customise MyFieldsports to give me a peg, marked with a ‘P’. And I can record pheasants shot at each peg. Huntstand doesn’t give me pheasants. I have the choice of a duck, a rabbit or a question mark. The good news is that both apps allow me to share this info with my friends.
Both apps struggle with snipe. We have a snipe moor on the shoot, with a path through the boggy ground. Both apps allow me to draw a path, neither has a symbol for a snipe. MyFieldsports gives me a range of small birds as an icon, and a duck. Huntstand just gives me a duck.
In Huntstand’s favour, it has a wide range of map types you can choose to use, while MyFieldsports has just variations on Google maps.
Lastly, I have spotted a good buck next to a wood. Here’s how they record it.
Huntstand has more functionality when it comes to trailcams, allowing you to upload trailcam pictures to your own server space and organise them so you can see wildlife activity more easily. It even claims ‘Automatic animal tagging through image recognition’ – though for Europe it will have to get over its obsession with marking all deer as whitetails.
Now, let’s say I record my sighting of an exceptional buck. What’s to stop that info making its way out of the app, on to Facebook and in to the hands of an unscrupulous hunting guide? the people behind both apps are at pains to assure me that none of my info leaves their servers unless I allow it.
Tristan Breijer from MyFieldsports says his app is going a step further. The developers are in negotiations with European hunting associations – including shooting organisations in the UK – about making generalised versions of the data available for scientific use.
Next question: what are they going to cost you? The apps are Freemium – you can get a free version and a premium or pro version – and both carry ads. Huntstand is less than half the price of MyFieldsports, but don’t let that put you off. You may easily decide it’s not about the cost.
It’s more of a decision about which app is going with you for your whole hunting/shooting life. Tristan is at pains to point out the financial security of the people behind MyFieldsports. Like Tristan, Josh Dahlke, who runs Huntstand, comes from a staunch hunting background, and so you can be sure of his commitment to our sport, too.
The conclusion is that (sorry, folks) both have their place. We have had gamebook apps in the UK in the past, and some of them are still lying, neglected, in the various appstores. We are now over those.
Both of these apps are a good start. As a European, with European wildlife, I feel more affinity with MyFieldsports. I feel it is making more of an effort with UK shooters. But Huntstand has more functionality and is cheaper.
Ollie Williams agrees that – when he was looking for a hunting app – he could not find much between them.
Now, when I say they are a good start, I would like both to be more in tune with the wider web. Please can they sync with Google Fit and Apple Fit. I would like them to be less up themselves. There’s something a bit clinical and self-obsessed about the web. I’d like them to alter the language they use, so they are more fun to use. And I still feel that neither of them have that killer function. Apps generally thrive because they have a large enough mass of people using them – like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter – or because they have a function you feel you can’t live without, like Google Maps.
I want both Huntstand and MyFieldsports to aim to be either big, or beautiful, or both.
You can check them out here:
Cards on the table: MyFieldsports app has nothing to do with our own Fieldsports Channel. MyFieldsports has a magazine section, with news articles about hunting and shooting. We allow the app to syndicate articles from Fieldsports News – but no money changes hands. We are not sponsored to produce this article by either MyFieldsports nor Huntstand. Thanks to Tristan, Josh and his brother Jake at Murray Road Agency, and to Ollie for their help putting this review together.