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Smartphone app lets hunters ID others' locations
SUFFOLK, Va. — Virginia hunters are in the woods more than two million times each year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state game department.
Of those trips, an average of only four — or a minuscule 0.00016 percent — end in a fatality.
But Doug Pillsbury thinks even that's too many.
In an effort to help prevent those tragedies, Pillsbury has designed DeerLogic, a smartphone application that among other uses helps identify where other hunters are in the woods.
"It's a good tool to record data on where deer have been seen, where deer have been killed... kind of a journal of a hunter's success or lack of success," said Pillsbury, a Suffolk resident. "But the safety side is, without a doubt, the most important part.
"Hunters can form groups where everybody is using the app, and broadcast their position so people in the group can see where everybody is."
Most hunter-shooting-hunter fatalities are the result of not being sure of the target or what's behind it.
In 2010, three fatalities - in Alleghany, Nelson and Sussex counties - could have been prevented if the shooter had known another hunter was nearby. In each, the shooter mistook the victim for a deer or turkey.
Last year, only one Virginia fatality resulted from a similar mistake.
"Most are accidental discharges," said Lee Walker, outreach director for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. "About one a year is a result of not positively identifying the target.
"With the way technology is going, (DeerLogic) is one more bit of information for hunters."
DeerLogic, currently available only on Droid-based phones, has been downloaded more than 100 times for $1.99 each. Pillsbury said he is working on an iPhone app.
A 39-year-old Western Branch High and Old Dominion University graduate, Pillsbury began working with software applications as a hobby. He got serious about them when he opened the software company DJP Limited last January.
He's hunted with family and friends since he was 8.
Meshing the two seemed, well, logical.
"We used to use (topography) maps with push pins to locate deer sightings and use that to determine where we'd put stands," Pillsbury said. "The technology is there for these kinds of things. So I thought, thought and thought a marriage of the hunting and the technology."
Fellow Suffolk resident Kyle Mallas and brother Mitch Pillsbury of Petersburg helped with development.
The first phase of DeerLogic was introduced at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show in August. It dealt mostly with single hunters recording data such as deer-sighting locations. The second phase was released a couple of weeks ago and deals with social aspects of hunting.
"You can create a group, be it friends or a club, and everybody can share the data with other members of your group," Pillsbury said. "Each group can invite other groups to share their information.
"And using the GPS mapping, we can have stand locations marked so people can see which are occupied and which aren't. And everybody in your group or shared groups can see where you are in the woods so everybody knows where everybody is."
A third phase is in the works and will include an Internet location so hunters can enhance their data for further study. It could include something similar to fishing's Solunar Tables to let hunters know where and when the best times will be.
Another safety feature for phones - a panic button to alert other group members that there is an emergency - also is in the works.
"There are so many things you can do with an app like this," Pillsbury said. "It can be a great tool for the guy who hunts every day or the guy who can only get in a stand once a year."