The following post comes to us from Barbara Baird, a regular contributor to NSSF.org’s “Hunting and Shooting Opportunities” section. This article and others like it — as well as information about hunting and shooting opportunities in every state — can be found at nssf.org/events.
Where to Find Maps of Hunting Locations
Maps can help you plan your hunt
Unless you grew up hunting in a certain place or have spent years hunting a particular area, you’re going to need a map in order to be successful. Good hunters are good map-readers.
With the help of the Internet, hunters can find and print maps quickly or just read them on their cell phones, iPads or laptops. Available maps range from state-of-the-art topographic maps to plain old road maps that basically get you there.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation funds map projects for state fish and wildlife agencies through its Hunting Heritage Partnership (HHP) program. The goals of the program are to increase hunter access to public and private lands, as well as to keep and recruit more hunters and also to create more hunting opportunities.
In Michigan, the Mi-HUNT program received funding in its developmental stages. An interactive map application located at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) website, Mi-Hunt offers public hunting lands created in layers — which detail information such as access sites, military ranges, trails, state game and wildlife areas and even cover types (vegetation layers derived from land inventories).
“Scouting potential hunting areas is a critical aspect of hunting success,” said the DNR’s Public Outreach and Engagement Unit Manager Kelly Siciliano Carter. “The Mi-HUNT program is the perfect first step. Get at online look at the different vegetation layers and start your planning. There also are new video tutorials, so it’s easy to learn the program as well.”
In Oregon, David Lane, acting deputy administrator — Information & Education Division of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said, “These products are very helpful to hunters, the agency and state: it helps hunters get into the field, it helps the agency convey complicated content easily, and it is an economic driver for rural areas.”
In a departmental survey that Lane shared, almost 91 percent of visitors to OregonHuntingMap.com used it to find a place to hunt, and more than 60 percent used the map to help plan their hunts. Of that 60 percent, almost 35 percent hunted an average of 6.2 extra days because of the map. That equates to more almost 1.4 million dollars in the state’s economy.
In Idaho, HHP funding aided development of the Hunt Planner Interactive Map Center, another interactive topographical map that also includes information on wildfire and other closures, motorized and non-motorized trails, hunting seasons and campgrounds. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game offers a web center, titled Hunting Access/Maps, which features the aforementioned Map Center, along with these maps:
- AccessYes! – Acres of private land currently available for hunting.
- Accessible Idaho! – Opportunities and access to hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing sites for persons with disabilities.
- Topographic Maps – Sheet maps that cover the state on a grid and show unit boundaries.
- Wildlife Management Areas -Thirty two locations across the state set aside to protect wildlife habitat and are available for hunting and fishing.
- Motorized Vehicles and Hunting – Rules regulating the use of motorized vehicles by hunters in some hunting units.
- Shooting Preserves
West Virginia recently added topographical maps for 23 of its Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Maps are available in different formats (PDF and JPEG) and resolutions, accommodating various Internet speeds. The state also kept its precursor to high-tech maps, its original black and white maps, on file.
Don’t know how to read a topo map?
If the thought of deciphering a topographical map makes you nervous, you can always check with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and its section on how to read a map. While you’re at that site, check out the service that allows you to download a map. If you’re looking for a map of a national forest, this is a great place to visit. The USGS also sells maps and offers many free downloads, too.
If you have checked your state’s resources and then, the USGS, and you still cannot locate the area where you want to hunt, you might try visiting Garmin, with its wide selection of topo maps. This will especially be appropriate if you want to hunt outside of the U.S. In fact, Garmin even sells watches that allow you to download maps and read them on your wrist while in the field.
Start big and think small
Sometimes, you’ll have to start big and hone in on your destination. For example, if you wanted to hunt pheasants in Minnesota, you could start with the 2012 Pheasant Hunting Prospects map, based on August Roadside counts. If you compare that map with a state map that lists counties, you’ll see that Otter Tail County has one of the heaviest populations for pheasants this year. Then, ask the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website search option to find a list of Wildlife Management Areas. Voila! You will be rewarded with a nice listing of WMAs that offer pheasant hunting. Go even smaller, choose “Otter Tail,” and you’ll be amazed to find either an interactive covertype map or a recreation compass.
It is not difficult, nor does it need to be time consuming to plan your hunt, and then, hunt your plan. Online maps increase your opportunities for successes along the way.