Use OnX on an iPhone or use a Garmin GPS? Here is my experience, I hope it is helpful.

Birdhunter1

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Last time I went to Wyoming Antelope hunting was in 2014, I had a Garmin Etrex 20 and was using the Hunt WY sd card. Back then I don’t think the OnX app existed and if it did it wasn’t very widely recommended for use.

We were hunting area 30 this year and area 29 for Antelope. Going through the process of updating my sd card and buying a new Garmin GPS MAP 78 (since my Etrex bit the dust) I also added the app onto my iPhone XR. In talking with the guys at OnX he said he uses his phone only and if out for a few days trek he will take his gps along as a backup.

So when researching here and elsewhere I had never found a good answer on which one is most preferred. I had my Garmin and the card and my phone and had played around with each at home in deep Southern Illinois. The OnX guy said download all the maps I need and throw it on airplane mode. I signed up and paid for the elite membership which got me all 50 states on my phone with the understanding that after the first month I will cancel that and go with just the IL version of the map at a cheaper rate (since I won’t be hunting outside of IL the rest of the year).

Garmin GPS MAP 78 pros and cons: For starters the GPS works and works anywhere unless you are in a metal covered building. It takes AA batteries that are easy to change out, it picks up satellite signals quick, it has a good screen easy to see in sunlight or in the dark. You can mark, track, measure distance, direction, see elevation…. The downsides to the gps: I had it on topo version (maybe it is only topo version), the unit itself is not touchscreen and you have to work ‘features’ to get it to do what you want however that isn’t cumbersome with gloves on, its waterproof (to an extent) and with gloves on in the rain that is not a big deal, the screen is small (compared to my phone). In all the GPS worked exactly as it should. I will add to carry extra AA batteries or whatever fits the unit.

My phone is an iPhone XR: I’ll mention the downsides first. I found in rain it wasn’t great as you don’t want it getting wet and it doesn’t pick up your fingers well when wet, also in the cold with gloves on it won’t pickup your fingers at all. The battery life can get sucked down quick so if you’re not around a vehicle often you’ll need a portable power pack charger (which I had but didn’t have to use). If on a good wifi or data signal it works well, if it is not on a good one it doesn’t work well… but if you have the maps downloaded and throw your phone onto airplane mode it works great. The few times we ventured out of where I didn’t have maps downloaded my phone pretty much became a paperweight to take pictures and tell time.

The pluses to a phone: If you’re like most people you are use to your phone, it is your clock and your camera and using the map on it isn’t difficult. Being touchscreen it made it very quick and handy to take measurements, zoom in, zoom out, move around on the map and the screen is big. Another thing I found rather interesting is in the bottom of the screen it would tell you the weather. When looking up the property info it seemed like the phone would provide you more info than the GPS version would, though both versions provide more than enough detailed info.

My 11 year old son tagged along to see what he will be getting into next year. He was mainly holding my gps and doing stuff on it. He found it very easy to work with and was very apt and telling us where the property lines were, where the next public ground was, bends in the road, elevation changes, draw, dips and valleys (yeah my 11 year old can read and interpret topo maps). One day we switched devices and he was using my phone, at the end of the day he said he liked the gps better.

For me I liked my phone better, the gps didn’t do anything my phone wouldn’t do. That being said I’m not selling my gps and wouldn’t go back without both. For me I’ll either be in and out of a truck or my son will be along and we can each carry a device. For what its worth we have another iPhone we have as a house phone for the kids that I could also put the app on. I think each device has is place and like the OnX guy told me he uses his phone and only takes the GPS as a backup. I can see myself doing that.

I hope this blurb helps someone decide what they need for a phone or a gps. I don’t know how well it works on Android phones. If I could only go back with one I’d probably take my GPS, I carry AA batteries anyway that will fit a small mini mag light I carry and my gps, throwing in a few extra for my gps isn’t a big deal.
 

Dieselsteve

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Great post. I use the phone for scouting around the pick up. When I hunt I use Garmin because I don't want to be side tracked with text, calls or emails.
 

Birdhunter1

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Dec 8, 2008
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I don't like being side tracked either, but where we were texts, phone calls and emails would not have come through.
 

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