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The Pitfalls of Taking Your Phone into the Woods

A recent post here on the case for all-day sits somehow ended up with a debate on treestand texting in the comments. I got pegged as a loner with no family because I said, “I ignore texts from just about everyone in the woods.”

But that assumption wasn’t accurate, and obviously no reasonable person would say you should ignore an emergency message from a loved one — no matter how big your target buck is.

In fact, I always take my phone with me into the woods and check it periodically for a few different reasons:

  • A close friend or family member could need to get ahold of me in a life-or-death situation.
  • A bowhunting buddy could hit one nearby and need help.
  • If conditions change and could be potentially dangerous, I can check the radar.
  • I can call for help if I injure myself or have an emergency of my own.

But these all require some level of cell service. If I don’t have any signal at all, I really have no good reason to pull my phone out of my pocket in the middle of a hunt.

No matter why you take it with you or if you have service, bringing your cell phone into the woods can lead to some serious pitfalls if you’re not careful.

  • You could forget to silence your phone or the switch could get bumped in your pocket, and it rings or chimes just loud enough to spook every deer in the area.
  • You end up in a long group chat about weekend plans or scrolling through social media while a bruiser walks right below your stand.
  • You drop your phone from the stand or it slips out of your hands as you’re crossing a creek, so it’s useless anyway. 

Still, bringing your cell into the woods is generally a good idea as long as you’re smart about it:

  • If you have no signal, power down your phone to conserve the battery — especially when it’s cold — and avoid any accidental sounds. 
  • Silence your phone and turn off vibrate alerts too. It’s amazing how loud that buzz seems in the still woods.
  • Keep your phone in a spot that won’t interfere with shooting but is still easy to quickly peak at.
  • Resist the urge to chat, scroll, shop, or play games out of boredom. Glance down periodically to make sure you don’t miss anything incredibly important, then get back to focusing on the reason you’re there.

19 thoughts on “The Pitfalls of Taking Your Phone into the Woods”

  1. TBB
    Well at least you got to write a blog about cell phones today.

    So are you ever going to write anything about bow and arrow and crossbow set up and sighting in and such.

    That’s one thing you will see that on the blog different subjects pop up in the comments. So things tend to go differ than expected.

    And reading those comments to me it looks like someone was showing a example of why a cell phone is a good thing to have with you.

    You have told me a few times that you was going to do some reviews when I asked and to wait and see. So far it’s just been about hunting. Well what’s the menu going to be like. More hunting or something about products that Pyramid Air has and such?

    Maybe PA can start a different blog page for your reports and we can go there and see them if we want.

    Hmm modern technology and modern problems. I never would of thought of having a conversation 60 years later of how to use a cell phone back when I was a kid. And yes I have my cell phone with me always.

      • The Bow Bully,
        I would love to see a historical piece on crossbows, such as when and where different ones were developed.
        And that brings to mind a Neolithic bow using flint tipped arrows I once saw.
        But I’ll save that comment for later, and match it, appropriately, to one of your future reports. 😉
        Looking forward to the future,

  2. “I can call for help if I injure myself or have an emergency of my own.”
    The Bow Bully,
    I think you hit on the number one reason why I ALWAYS take my phone into the woods. My hunting buddy had a friend fall from a tree stand, about a 12-foot fall, and he hit some brush, not a fatal fall, but he was pretty banged up, and unable to drive himself out of the woods; thankfully, he had his cell phone (and reception!) and was able to call his Dad to get help. So, as you said, I keep it more for emergency use, for me or someone else, and don’t pay much attention to it otherwise; but like a compass or a GPS unit, it’s a tool, and used properly, it can be an important one!
    Keep up the good work,

      • TBB
        It’s the freak unexpected accidents that get you.

        Step off the tree and you slip for some reason and fall on a stick poking up.

        You know there is more scenarios that can happen.

    • We can also ping your phone when you can’t answer it. The technology will get us close to where the phone is. Obviously, that wouldn’t be of much assistance to the person if the phone had been dropped and that person has moved. If a person is reported as missing, or late coming out of the woods, this is a valuable tool to locate people.

  3. I’m definitely a Luddite 🙂
    If I leave work at the end of the day and realize I forgot my phone at work I continue on my way home…the phone will be there in the morning.
    I’m amazed at all my workmates who say that even if it means a 1/2 extra drive time they have to go back and get their phone because they can’t live without it..

    • cowboystar dad
      Here is something even more crazy.

      I was headed off to work and realized I forgot my phone probably about a quarter of the way there. I did turn back around and get it.

      Here’s the crazy part. I got it and headed off back to work. And that was probably about 5 years ago. I would have to say if that happened today I would of stayed home once I made it back home if that would happen now days. Definitely not into work like I use to be the closer I get to retirement. 🙁

  4. pitfall #2 happened to a friend while he was on a hunt in Colorado. started texting his wife while waiting for legal hunting time. looked up and saw a gorgeous animal right in front of him. spooked him trying to put the phone down and pick up his bow.

    • jakeS
      A different scenario here.

      I’m about ready to retire and I have been training a younger guy at work in his mid 20’s. He actually reminds me of me. But he is always on his phone.

      It’s ok in most instances. And he is smart and retains well. But there is some important times like when working on electrical and even mechanical times. Bad news if your not 100% plus into what is going on.

      I have told him about it and he does understand and has got better. As it goes there is a time and place for everything.

  5. This is not in a hunting context, but the one thing that pushes my buttons – pun intended – is, say on a hike or camping, somebody just having to yackyackyack with wife/girlfriend/human-of-interest about banal and meaningless stuff. If you’re not going out to enjoy nature and the associated reasons for being IN nature, stay home and stare at the concrete! Personally, if someday all the telecommunications satellites get knocked out of the sky, not gonna cry in my beer about it.

    • FM
      When I’m out in the woods now days riding the 4 wheeler or taking my squirrel dog out for a run my phone is with me.

      And this is it. It is on vibrate. I do check it and see what its about. And I tell people to text me. No calls. That way I can see what they want and I respond back if needed. Otherwise I go about my business of trying to enjoy myself. Which seems to be harder to find time for. Or maybe I just want to enjoy myself all the time more so than ever. 🙂

  6. BowBully,

    Pitfalls are one reason to take Wilderness Medical Courses and carry Wilderness Medical Kit. I carry a Signal Mirror a Day Signal Flag and how to make day SMOKE and night flame signal fires. .
    Cellular Phones are great if you have a usable signal; you might need to climb to a higher terrain pont to connect with a tower. A Garmin In Reach, Spot, EPIRB are the real deal for comms in the wilderness or when out of sight of land while kayaking.
    Also a FLOAT PLAN or Hunt/HIKE plan left with a responsible person(s) paper or electronic with ETA/RTB (Expected Time of Arrival/Return To Base are great things if worst case something happens.


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