-By Brandon Wikman
When I scout a hunting property, whether it’s one I’ve hunted for years or a fresh piece of ground, there’s nothing more helpful than an aerial map. Aerial maps will give you a bird’s eye view of the terrain, shapes, features and characteristics your property holds.
Enhancing the visual aspects of what types of attributes your ground possesses will aid immensely throughout the entire season. I prefer using maps to locate deer travel routes in a broad perspective. You can easily locate funnels, fingers and pinch-points by simply analyzing forest and field features. Another benefit is locating water sources. Water plays an important role early in the season and also during the rut, when bucks are in full-blown chase mode.
There are many ways to get your hands on an aerial map. My good friend and neighbor, who seems to do everything a step above the rest, hired a small passenger plane to flyover his property for a few hours. Both he and the pilot buzzed around and gained a further understanding of his land. He also photographed the entire chunk of land. This can be achieved by making a quick phone call to a local airport in your area. This option may be a little expensive, but here are a few more alternatives that will open your eyes to the ‘big picture.’
Making a short drive to your local courthouse is another way to attain an aerial map. All it takes is a few simple question of where the land is located and sometimes they are able to print a map onsite. Otherwise, they will send a map to your home address within a reasonable time. This option is fairly quick, cheap and painless! You are able to customize the size and dimensions of your map and have them laminate it for you. It is just another great way to physically see treetops and field shapes from the clouds.
Thanks to the World Wide Web, we are now able to fly around not only our entire state, but also our whole planet in the luxury of our chair! Through the Internet, aerial maps can be pulled up in no time and at no cost! I use this time-efficient method almost every week. A program called Google Earth, www.earth.google.com, shows defining terrain features and allows you to zoom into properties from the stars, literally! It is easy to download onto your computer system.
Another web site of interest is www.maps.live.com, which displays even more detail, in my opinion. I can virtually locate the exact tree my stand is hung. This has opened a new platform in technology for the hunting community. This program allows you to mark tree stands, flag deer trails and label as much material as you want.
Technology has brought many great products over the years; much has been at the tip of our fingertips. I urge everyone to spend an hour studying the property you hunt, because I promise that you will gain a better appreciation and knowledge of the lay of the land. Walking a property is one thing, but sitting in the convenience of your home and pulling up a web site that shows you a totally unique perspective of it is another. Try one of the listed web sites today; I am sure you will be glad you did.