Y’all, I’m terrible at putting puzzles together. Well, an entire puzzle that is. I’m really good at finding the corners and I’m decent when it comes to connecting a few more pieces in the middle. But oftentimes, there’s just something that I’m still missing. And when it comes to my whitetail scouting, much of the same can be said because it is a giant puzzle after all.
These days, I scout year-round. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m an absolute trail cam freak. Right now, I’m watching over a dozen cameras, most of them in real-time, since they’re linked to cell service. And as much as that spoils me as a hunter, it doesn’t necessarily tell me everything that I need to know. When you think about it, all our trail cam photos end up telling us, is where an animal is at a specific time, on a specific day. And though that is critical information to have, it’s just one piece to the much larger puzzle. So, the question is, “how do you get those other pieces that you need to kill that big buck you’re after?”. Simple, get out from behind the screen and go sort through the rest of the pieces in person.
As the summer months slowly start to inch their way toward fall, I take every opportunity that I can to get out and glass for target bucks. From the trail cam pics, I already have a good idea of who’s who, but what I don’t know is what direction they’re coming from and where they head afterward. Understanding this helps me figure out blind placement and even more importantly, it tells me how I need to walk to my spot without getting winded. Every single thing that you can learn about a buck’s behavior will help to tip the odds in your favor come hunting season.
Sure, all of what I just wrote is pretty routine to a bunch of us, but after many weeks of scouting, it’s easy to forget the details and what you’ve learned from the field. This season, I’ve added a small addition to my optics pack and it’s not another trail cam. In fact, it doesn’t even have batteries. It’s a simple adapter that has changed the way that I scout. The Phone Skope is something that I don’t even know how to describe, other than a great way to turn your cellphone into a mobile scouting machine. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t think that it would be of too much use down here in South Texas. From everything that I saw, it was used on Western big game hunts with spotting scopes, hardly the scenario here with whitetails in brush country. But after doing a little research, what caught my attention was that you could attach it to your binoculars as well, which is much more realistic down here in Texas. So far this season, the Phone Skope has helped me document different bucks, they’re patterns, all while digitally recording them for further review back at camp.
Right now, I have my Phone Skope fitted for my Vortex Razor HD binoculars, which I have mounted to a Vanguard tripod with the Vortex Uni-Daptor (a total must-have!). Whether I’m tucked away in a blind, sitting along a field edge, or just parked in my truck on a hilltop, this setup has been instrumental for learning more about the bucks that I’m after this season. The Phone Skope case itself is custom for your specific phone model and depending on what exact optic you’re using, the lens adapter is also model specific for a super snug fit. Once in my blind, I can be literally up and running with this setup in under a minute, most of which is spent getting the tripod setup for the right height. Once everything is adjusted and I get behind the glass, I open up the Phone Skope app and from there can flip between still photos and video. All gets saved to one location, which makes reviewing footage and comparing it to trail camera photos back at camp that much easier.
Trust me, if you’re looking to improve your scouting game and want to document all that you can about the buck that you’re pursuing this year, give the Phone Skope digiscoping kit a shot, it’s worth every penny.
Mike’s 2020 Scouting Gear:
- Pixel 4 Phone Skope adapter
- Vanguard tripod
- Vortex Razor HD 10×42 binoculars
- Vortex Uni-Daptor
- Vortex Guide Pack
- Lens wipe
Guest Blog by: Mike Reeber
Mike Reeber is a Texas-based hunting guide, wild game chef, and 1st Light Hunting Journal contributor. You can find his content at NortheasternBowhunter.com.