Hunting map apps have made things drastically easier for new hunters and all hunters really. Being able to clearly see where public land is, where each parcel border is, and who owns private property is incredibly helpful for scouting, hunting, and tracking game. And the top two apps in the space are onX Hunt and HuntWise. So which one is the best?
That question is not easily answered. The two apps have a lot in common, but they have a lot that is unique as well. Each offers different features and different price points, I have used both for a couple years hunting deer, waterfowl, turkey, pheasants, crows, predators, and more. In this review, I will give you the strengths and weaknesses for each app to help you decide which is best for you. This review is NOT sponsored, and I have no relationship with either company. These are my unbiased observations from years of use.
If you are new to hunting, I did another article that could also help you get going: How To Start Hunting As An Adult Without Help – Easy 15 Step Guide
onX Hunt Overview
The first major hunting app to gain market share seems to have been onX Hunt, one of the variants of onX Maps, a company that flavors their mapping engine around a variety of pursuits. I have been a paying customer of onX Hunt for around 5 years at this point. They are one of the only apps that I pay for.
The big focus of onX Hunt is their mapping. They are all about creating the best, easiest, most intuitive map experience with numerous options just beneath the surface that do not clutter or confuse the user. They have all of the standard info like property boarders, who owns the land, how much land there is, what game management unit it is, and lots of other info. In fact, they invented what the standard info is.
There are lots of other features packed in to onX Hunt like weather, wind direction, crop info, tree types, access routes, and dozens and dozens of map options, overlays, 3d maps, and location specific data points. You can go as deep as you want, or if you are like me, keep it nice and simple. There are extra tools to mark hunting spots, make notes, measure areas, and my favorite, a line distance tool to help you estimate distances. And much more.
HuntWise is a bit late to the party and has been trying to encroach upon onX’s market share. However, HuntWise did come to play. They have many of the standard features you will find with onX but they double down in one big specific area and that is weather and their feature called HuntCast.
HuntCast is their way of forecasting the best hunting days and times of day based upon the weather, time of year, breeding info, migrations, and various other factors for most types of game. I’ll talk more about this later. But if there is one big thing that sets HuntWise apart, this is it. And it is significant. They are trying to help you find the best day(s) of the year to hunt deer. I also did a podcast on this subject that can help you for free: The Best Day Of The Year For Deer Hunting?
There are also some other unique features like gear deals and a bit of a social network type environment for those interested in such things. Their mapping engine looks and feels a little different, but it does many of the same things at a surface level. Overall HuntWise is a very robust app.
How To Compare Both Apps
It is worth noting that neither app has a good concise comprehensive list of features, the list would be too long and too painful to read let alone try and compare with other apps. I hope to give you the specific details you need by synthesizing my actual use of these apps as I compare them section by section.
I am going to spare you the painfully intricate details of each app’s minute details and give you my general feedback instead. If you want to look through the magnifying glass at every option and feature, your best bet is to get a free trial of each app and run them side-by-side to see not just what they can do but how easy and intuitively each app can do it. But trying to do all of that in a review would be too tedious for me and for you.
For the sake of brevity, I am going to be very frank, but fair. Some of this is subjective and amounts to my own opinion after using the same tools in both apps.
Maps & Layers
First and foremost, the mapping features for both apps are excellent and will do all that most people need and want. The biggest thing they do is help you find public land to hunt. Below is a video I did on the subject to help you beyond just a mapping app.
Is one better? I would say that onX Hunt does have slightly better mapping capabilities. It is not so much that their maps are better but that their mapping interface is more intuitive and less glitchy. I can find places and do what I need to do easer with onX Hunt than with HuntWise. Also, onX Hunt seems to work better on phones that are older or with slower processors.
Property Boarders & Info
Again, both apps are great and give you everything you need. Both show you where property boarders are, how much land there is, public or private land, who owns it, what wildlife management unit, ect. This matters a lot when hunting near property boarders or on small parcels. Hunting on small properties has become a hot topic, here is a podcast episode I did that goes more in depth: How To Hunt Deer On Small Properties.
onX Hunt seems to have more consistent and reliable data but HuntWise sometimes has more data. So, it is a tradeoff. Is one really better than the other? I am going to say it is an even draw for this one.
Weather & Wind
Both apps provide current wind and weather data, as well as forecasted data for any parcel you want to look at. They give you the ability to visually see the direction the wind is blowing and with what level intensity. HuntWise goes above and beyond though with their HuntCast feature. They show more granular data, further out, and it is more intuitively accessed.
Both apps give you everything you need but HuntWise specializes in the weather and wind area and they have developed a better offering for that.
Markers & Way Points
As you might expect, both apps let you mark stands, sign, locations, notes, etc. And both let you share that information with others. But I think onX Hunt does better in this area. They provide more features with more intuitive and less glitchy use than HuntWise does. onX Hunt also has the very simple but supremely useful line distance tool which I cannot find in HuntWise even after years of looking for it. If it’s there, it is definitely not intuitive.
The line distance tool lets me scope out how far a hunting spot is to other houses, how far a hike might be, or how far I covered in a day if I retrace my steps. I use this tool all the time and I deem it critically important for my hunting style. It’s so helpful for determining if I am far enough from houses to hunt with a bow or firearm. But even aside from this tool, onX Hunt still feels better in this category.
HuntWise’s Gear Feature
HuntWise’s has some functionality that is unique to them such as their Gear tool. The gear tool is a really interesting idea that essentially compiles a list of discounts from HuntWise partners. The more expensive your plan is, the larger the discounts you have access to. It sounds pretty cool.
But in practice I have not been impressed with it. None of the deals have ever been helpful to me or they were the same or similar to other deals the companies were running anyway. HuntWise just compiles them for you. In my opinion it is of some benefit but not much. Certainly not worth upgrading your plan for.
HuntWise’s HuntCast Feature
HuntWise also has HuntCast. This feature is fairly impressive. You can select whatever you are hunting, deer, turkey, waterfowl, bears, etc. And the tool will forecast what coming days and time of day provide the best prospects for hunting that game. It considers weather data, breeding seasons, and more to calculate the days the times game is most likely to be moving. If you have the free version you can see two days out, and the more you pay the further out you can see, up to 2 weeks in advance.
Is HuntCase really accurate? In my experience, yes, as accurate as such predictions can reasonably be. They double down on this feature for Whitetails, partnering with Jeff Sturgis, one of the most prolific authors and content creators on the subject to adapt his weather algorithm to the app. I have followed Jeff for years and consumed well over a thousand pieces of content from him and other researchers that he follows like Dr. John Ozoga. I boiled much of it down into a simple podcast episode you can listen to here: The Best Weather Days For Deer Hunting.
In short, Jeff Sturgis’s work predicting deer movement and optimal hunting days and times is the best I’ve seen or heard of on the subject. I have learned and been employing his weather algorithm for years now and with great success. HuntCast captures that, along with providing a library of videos from Jeff, directly in the app, to guide and equip deer hunters. This could be the single best tool on the market to help new hunters find the right times to hunt deer and learn how to hunt them more effectively.
For me, it doesn’t really matter though because I have internalized these weather algorithms and the library of Jeff’s teachings. So HuntCast doesn’t add anything to me. But I know I am the exception and not the rule here. This is a great tool for the majority of hunters. I should mention that HuntCast is not as robust for all other game species outside of Whitetail Deer. They do not have as good of algorithms or industry leading experts infusing lifetimes of knowledge into any other game seasons like ducks, turkeys, bears, small game, etc.
How Much Do onX Hunt and HuntWise Cost?
This is the great equalizer between these two apps that provide various features. You might be thinking that HuntWise gives you more despite onX Hunt being better in some areas, and you would be right. But HuntWise also charges you more, alot more. As of this writing the pricing is outlined below, I should also mention that I do not believe the prices have changed in the last couple of years, though there are periodic sales from both companies.
- onX Hunt sells for $30 a year for 1 state, or $50 a year for all states.
- HuntWise has a PRO plan that is $20 a month or $60 a year.
- HuntWise also has an ELITE plan that gives you the full suite of whitetail deer hunting tools and longer HuntCast for $40 a month or $120 a year.
So, at best you can get the cheap version of HuntWise for double what onX Hunt costs. However, if you want the PRO version, you probably want the ELITE version too and that is a lot of money to spend on an app.
Conclusions & Recommendations
So which app provides the best mix of features for the cost? It is going to depend on what is most important and valuable to you. I currently only pay $30 a year for onX Hunt and now use the free version of HuntWise which has limited features, including only 2 days of HuntCast. I have had the full version in the past but $120 a year is just more than I am willing to pay for an app right now. And onX Hunt does everything I need and want.
For me, onX Hunt is better because its mapping and map features are a little better. The most compelling elements of HuntWise are not as compelling to me because I’m well studied in those areas. But I think for most deer hunters, HuntWise could be the right tool, if you can fit it into your budget. If you are considering HuntWise for game other than whitetails, a lot of the allure fades.
Till next time. God bless you, and go get em in the woods!
George Konetes Ph.D. – Founder and Host of the New Hunters Guide.
The New Hunters Guide is simply what George wishes he would have had when learning how to hunt; a single place to get practical hands on knowledge about different kinds of hunting, gear, strategy, and tips that can improve your comfort and fun factor in the woods.