Sportsman Tracker’s Mobile App Helps Hunters Find Their Prey

It’s fall, and to a segment of Michigan’s population, that means one thing: The start of hunting season. A Grand Rapids, MI-based hunting-tech startup, Sportsman Tracker, unveiled a new mobile app late last month at San Francisco’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference in anticipation of the season, and company CEO Jeff Courter says the app’s algorithm is “the most accurate and advanced prediction formula available.”

The app’s proprietary prediction tool, Wildlife Intelligence Technology, is based on scientific research in wildlife behavioral patterns. It tracks eight different variables, including barometric pressure, moon phase, and weather, and the results are weighted based on the animal being targeted. The app allows users to forecast peak activity times for more than 200 species, Courter adds, and log their results, automatically capturing current locations, dates, times, and weather information. Logs can then be shared instantly with a user’s “buddy list.”

“The core of what we’re doing is our prediction algorithms, and we also added features users were requesting,” Courter says, explaining that the new app was created by combining and expanding the company’s two previous apps. Some of the free app’s new features include the ability to share photos and success stories. The focus is on when to hunt, Courter says, because most hunters already have their favorite spots staked out—although in the future, the app will display maps that will show hunters where to find public land.

Courter calls hunting “a hobby on steroids,” with more than 37 million hunters and anglers in the U.S. and a total global market value of $90 billion. It’s also a hobby that requires a fair amount of equipment, which can mean lots of big-ticket purchases depending on the hunter.

The five-person team, which closed on a $950,000 round of funding from a group of undisclosed Midwestern investors last February, plans to monetize the app eventually, once the company adds all of the planned features. Sportsman Tracker will also pursue a second round of funding next year.

“We’re always open to a conversation with big retailers,” he says. “We’re primed for what they want to do, whether it’s an acquisition down the road or a co-marketing arrangement. We’re in talks with a couple of them now, trying to find the right fit.”

Courter says Sportsman Tracker’s biggest challenge is convincing the older generation why they need a hunting app in the first place. “A lot of new hunters are young and are super familiar with smartphones,” he says. “For the older generation, some of the concepts are still a little foreign. There’s a cross-generational gap, but it’s closing quickly.”

Courter has been hunting and fishing his whole life; his dad first took him ice fishing when he was 7 months old. “It’s about enjoying creation and the relationships you build with family and friends,” he says, explaining the appeal of hunting. “Our app will never give you that experience, but we can give you the tools to increase your success and enjoyment.”

As for Sportsman Tracker’s experience in Silicon Valley, Courter says TechCrunch Disrupt’s hipster-heavy audience seemed more interested in the camouflage sport coats he and his co-founder were wearing than the actual app. “It’s a little bit of a fish out of water thing—there weren’t any other hunting and fishing apps there. But I think being different is good.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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