There are many modern gadgets and devices that hunters utilize on a regular basis to assist them in their management and hunting endeavors. We have become experts at using trail cameras and GPS units that allow us to mark specific locations. Aerial maps are another tool that more hunters are commonly using and for good reason. The results have been astounding. I believe that aerial maps are a manager’s most important tool. Here’s why.
There are many types of apps and programs that allow hunters to see their land from a different perspective. This in-depth look can change how you manage your property. You can view the maps at various times of the year, allowing you to see the forest types. Hardwoods are easily decipherable from evergreens such as pines and cedars during the winter months because they stay green year around. These maps also show the elevation and the steepness of the terrain, which can help you out when searching for potential food plot locations. Pinch points, travel corridors, ridges, and bedding areas can be easily found on these maps. Distances can quickly be measured between two points and converted between yards, feet, etc. If you are a hunter who has hunted the same tract of land before, you have a head start, but that doesn’t mean that aerial maps can’t help you gain an altered viewpoint of your land. For the hunters who have just purchased land or have access to land they have yet to hunt, maps are invaluable. Your scouting should begin on a map. This will limit your trampling through the woods and when you go to set out trail cameras and tree stands you will know exactly where you want to go first. This can cut your time spent in half wandering around scouting. Plus, it limits the human intrusion on your property and limits the pressure exerted on nearby deer.
A few years ago I was thoroughly inspecting a map when I found a stream that had been dammed up into a pond due to beavers. The stream ran through an opening in a bottomland about 100 yards wide. To the south was 200 acres of pines and to the north was 125 acres of soybeans. The creek would provide a cutoff between the bedding area and the food source. Located on the dam was a lone tree. I realized that if I were to hang a stand there with the pond to my back, I could easily spot any deer crossing the once-flooded bottomland traveling from the pines to the soybean field. I did all this from my laptop. A week later a ladder stand was set up on the pine and I was ready for my first sit in the stand. Many deer were spotted that afternoon including a buck which now hangs on my wall.
If you haven’t yet considered using aerial maps to help you manage and hunt your land, there is still time before the season opens. Luckily, these maps aren’t only for deer hunters. Many turkey hunters use the maps when searching for roosting sites and waterfowl hunters do the same when seeking out secluded ponds and waterholes. I have also used these maps when blood trailing deer, especially if the trail goes cold. By taking just a few extra minutes and checking out a map you may be able to gain some insight on where that deer is headed. No matter what type of game I am pursuing, I always carry a hard copy of a map with me when hunting and scouting. You should too! You will be surprised at how the view from above can change your perspective.