Hunt smarter: IST alum develops digital journal to take guesswork out of hunting

Sarah Rothfleisch
October 03, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After growing up in central Pennsylvania, Dan Hansel, 2007, has an affinity for two things: Penn State and hunting. Now, as an alumnus of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), he’s found a way to blend those passions in a digital journal that hunters can use for predictive analytics to track animal patterns.

The initial concept for the app, TrophyTracks, began during Hansel’s childhood.

“I’ve been hunting since I was 12 years old,” he said. “I used to keep my notes in a little notepad, and that’s what led me to the idea for TrophyTracks.”

Fast forward to 2012, when, thanks to the foundation he built while a student in the College of IST, he began to bring his idea to life. He tapped into networks he’d built in IST and through his role as an assistant IT director at Penn State, and began to develop the app in 2017.

It was those fellow IST alumni who told him about a University initiative that helps new businesses get started called Happy Valley LaunchBox.

“The alumni network of the College of IST was very helpful,” he said. “I applied [to the LaunchBox] and got in.”

With the help of his alumni network, Happy Valley LaunchBox and some dedicated volunteers, Hansel was able to fine tune his ideas for the app and differentiate it from similar technology. Other hunting apps are proficient at providing mapping and detailing property lines, he said, but they don’t provide the in-depth details that hunters need to be successful.

That’s where TrophyTracks comes in. Not only does the app provide geolocation and mapping services, it also allows users to track moon phases, sunrises, sunsets and incoming weather patterns – all while letting users keep notes that can help them better track the animal they are hunting.

Hansel notes that the app could have a wide appeal, as hunting is a popular pastime in the region.

Dan Hansel '07

Dan Hansel '07 

IMAGE: Provided

“There are around 13 million hunters in the United States,” said Hansel. “The top five hunting states are Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and New York.”

Hansel said that the critical skills and lessons he learned at the College of IST – infrastructure, how to communicate technology to individuals unfamiliar with it, and leadership – not only benefit him in his professional role today, but also as an entrepreneur.

Hansel wants to pay forward the great experience he had in college to current and future students, by offering internships to students who are looking to gain real-life experience in an office setting.

“I want students to walk away having learned something,” he said. “I’m always looking for more help developing.”

TrophyTracks is slated to be released in time for the upcoming hunting season.

This story is informational in nature and should not be considered an endorsement of any product or application.

Last Updated October 03, 2019