Cell Phone Communication

Your Cell Phone is likely one of your most indispensable tools for everyday life.  But will you be able to use your phone on your elk hunt?  The answer is “Maybe”.

Most of us have come to expect cell phone coverage wherever we are, and we take it for granted.  But most elk are located far from metropolitan areas that will be covered by the wireless providers.  There are many variables involved that will determine whether or not you will have a cell phone signal.  Here are some things to consider as you are planning communication during your elk hunt.

Cell Phone Signal Variables


  • Distance to cell phone tower – Cell towers have a maximum reach of about 45 miles. This will make many hunting locations out of reach.
  • Terrain – Even if the distance to the nearest cell phone tower is within reach, actual signal strength is very limited by terrain. If you are in a canyon, there is a good chance that you won’t have any service.  Even if you are on top of a mountain, if there is another peak between you and the tower it will likely impact your ability to connect.
  • Wireless service provider – While most companies allow customers from other cell phone carriers to access their networks via “roaming”, sometimes a phone from one company may be able to connect, while a phone from another company will not be able to connect. It depends on the agreements between the companies.  Also, even if you can connect, you may incur additional charges for roaming, depending on your plan.

Cell Phone Tips for Remote Areas:

Determine coverage in your hunt area

  • Access a coverage map to determine the likelihood of coverage in the area
  • Contact a business or individual in the nearest town to try and get information about cell phone coverage
  • Post a question in an online hunting forum. Often hunters with experience in the area you plan to hunt will be able to tell you whether or not you’ll have coverage

Experiment when you are in the area

    • Watch your cell phone signal strength as you are driving into your hunt area. This can tell you how far you’ll need to drive to get a connection.  Occasionally there are “sweet spots” where you will have enough signal strength to connect, but 50 feet from that spot you will not be able to communicate
    • As you are hiking in the woods, check to see if you have cell phone access on high points in the terrain

Watch your battery life

  • Cell phones use more power when they are searching for a signal. If you know that you don’t have service, turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode.
  • Don’t forget your car charger
  • Consider a power storage unit
  • Consider a solar charger


Try a Signal Booster

Cell phone signal boosters are available for vehicles. This could make the difference between driving up the hill nearest to elk camp or having to drive much further to get a strong enough signal to communicate


Other Options

    • Live without your cell phone for the duration of the hunt – It may not seem possible, but it hasn’t been very long since mobile phones were not even an option.
    • Rent or buy a satellite phone – The technology is available that will allow you to communicate from anywhere.

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