By Mia Anstine, Women’s Outdoor News
Did you know that it’s your responsibility to be aware of where you are while you’re hunting? Do it yourself (DIY) hunts are becoming more and more widespread. This means that hunters are responsible for learning and knowing the areas they’re hunting. Some states have fines in the thousands of dollars for hunters who are caught trespassing. Then, there are states that threaten as much as 1 year of jail time if you’re hunting on land for which you don’t have permission. Thankfully, orienteering and the use of GPS hunting maps can help you know where you can go.
We suggest that you do some research of the area before you head out for your hunt. Here are 4 ways to know where you can go while hunting.
Fences and signs
Always take note of fences and signs marking forbidden territory. We are surrounded by Southern Ute triballand in our neck of Colorado, which has a variety of areas fenced and marked with “no trespassing.” However, not all tribal or private properties have signs. Some properties aren’t even fenced. That is why we’ve taken to other devices to backup our navigations.
Map and compass
My daughter has been fortunate enough to learn orienteering. She knows how to navigate terrain using a map and compass. To find maps of your area, you can stop at a local forest ranger’s office. You can also buy topographical (topo) maps at sporting goods stores or online. Not all topo maps show differentiation among private properties, BLM lands, USFS land, etc. If you are in an area where you have this concern, you need to get the map that shows these details.
Using a map and compass requires some training. First of all, you will need to know where you are on the map. You will also need to learn how to find bearing points, how to determine north and a variety of other tasks. It can be fun to learn orienteering as a family or with friends.
Hide your child’s cell phone, and give him or her it’s location on a map. It seems young ones try harder when given the challenge of finding their digital ruses. That being said, after he or she has learned the “ancient ways” of navigating, you should also try using modern electronics.
GPS is your new best, friend
GPS stands for “Global Positioning System.” Most of these devices are electronic and communicate with satellites to determine where you are. Depending on the model you acquire, you may be able to see topo lines, landmarks and reference points. These devices will need to be used in conjunction with a map that indicates property types, boundaries and other designations, unless you get a special map for it.
The invention of hunting GPS maps is a Godsend to hunters. These maps show hunting unit numbers, boundary lines, BLM land, forestry land and private land. HUNT by OnXMaps guarantees accuracy to within 49 feet. These vary in detail from state-to-state, depending on policies. Depending on technology of said recordings, the maps can be detailed so much so that they show landowners’ names.
Hunting GPS maps are available for a variety of electronic GPS devices. Computer, cellular and paper maps also are available. My daughter and I carry a handheld GPS with a Micro SD card for our state ($99.99). The company provides online updates to us each year for $30.
We suggest all of the above methods for knowing where to go when hunting. It’s better to be safe than sorry when you are looking to fill your tag. If you choose only electronic methods, be sure to pack extra batteries or chargers. However, please realize that electronics might fail while afield, so it’s a good idea for everyone to learn how to use “old-fashioned” paper maps.