GIS mapping is a hunter’s good friend

Nearly every state has some sort of public land access that allows hunting. That is really no surprise.

What may come as a surprise is that through license purchases and conservation efforts hunters have not only supported these types of environments, but continue to fight hard for the right to keep these properties state owned and hunter-friendly.

I grew up exclusively hunting public land in Northern Pennsylvania — Potter County, to be exact. I didn’t know what it was like to hunt a piece of private land until I was much older, and on the state owned land, the struggle was real.

As is still the case with most public hunting, those who are willing to travel the deepest into the woods and the furthest from the access roads and their cars and trucks, are those who see the most success. That you may already know as it is pretty cut and dry, but did you know that advancements in mapping technology have made potentially pinpointing theses areas easier than ever?

When I was growing up and grinding it out on public land, all we had was a faded topographic map of the area tacked to the wall of our two-room cabin. To go any further into depth on that old map, however, would be irrelevant to the topic.

Over the last decade, and even more so in the last five years, thousands of businesses, towns, counties, state forests, and more have updated their paper mapping systems and moved to online, interactive GIS (geographic information systems).

With these new GIS programs, in just a matter of moments you can view your intended hunting areas along with many different tools. Boundary lines, acreage, elevation, distances, trail access and more, with just a click of a button. Without a doubt, this modern technology has made it easier to research, plot, scheme and execute successful hunting trips on hunting lands with public access.

The benefits however, are not exclusive to public lands.

Two years ago, I was having a difficult time deciphering where they boundary line was between two pieces of property. One property I had permission to hunt, and the other I did not. Using the GIS website for that county here in Virginia, I was able to locate the boundary line within 10 feet of a specific tree. A tree that, once I knew was fair game, I have now sat against successfully and harvested a few turkeys.

So the next time you head to the woods to hunt a new spot, whether it’s public or private land, use these newer advances in GIS mapping technology to give you a leg up on your familiarity with the area.

Hunt hard, hunt safe and shoot straight, friends.


John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.


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