Digitize Your Hunting Property

The latest mapping software can make the bucks on your land seem as predictable as they do in those hunting video games. So, digitize your hunting property.

Though I'm hardly a member of the digerati --I don't even have an iPod-- I'm into GPS units and digital mapping software like so many 12-year-olds are into their PlayStations. My infatuation started years ago after a marketer for Maptech prodded me into using digital mapping to scout and pattern deer. I told him I go to the woods to get away from technology; that I'm proud that I can read tracks and scat like men did since there were men. He just laughed and countered, "You're not a frontiersman. You use aerial photos and topo maps already. And you spend, what, 10 hours or more a day on a computer? Use that time. Use your modern skills by utilizing the latest mapping technology."

I thought, good point, then digital mapping showed me something I had trouble seeing in the few days I had to scout: the big picture. You see, from a distance a mountain I hunt on looks like a complacent, hardwood-slathered lump. But when you hike onto its oak covered back it quickly spreads out, as ridges, oak benches and laurel thickets decompress and then there you are, attempting to see the big picture, but you can't. There's just too much geography.

So you use maps and aerial photos and scout on the few free days you have and run smack into a catch-22: You have to scout to tag a big buck, but scouting too much disturbs and alters a mature whitetail's routine. So before each season I was hurting my chances as I roved over the mountain snooping for buck sign; instead, new mapping programs gave me the chance to scout from my PC and then to use a GPS to take me right to pre-determined coordinates.....

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