I’ve been trying to figure out how to best write this so not to appear to be looking for the often sought after “honey hole” or GPS coordinates….so here goes.
I still consider myself relatively new to Western hunting. I’ve hunted elk a couples times in Colorado on a limited tag hunt with a muzzleloader. Always the same location and we plan to go back this fall. Bad part is we can only draw every other or every third year. Truth is I don’t even remember how we settled on this area almost 10 years ago now, but it is a nice honey hole that we stumbled into. Sometimes I’d rather be lucky than good!
As I am getting older and am trying to find more areas to hunt out west (at this time I am also applying for PP’s in Wyoming) I find myself struggling to compile data to determine what unit and then where within a given unit I want to hunt for a particular species (elk, deer, antelope).
I by no means am a trophy hunter, am strictly DIY, and I am more trying to use my research to find a location(s) to hunt where I may be able to go every year so I may better get to know an area through boot leather on the ground and find decent animals through determination, hard work, and hopefully a little luck. While possibly building PP’s for the future to go into a “higher” quality area.
Currently, I use Google earth to stare at aerial photos and I also try to use ArcGIS or other similar online sites for topographical maps. For Colorado I have found the NDIS program to be nice to compare both aerial and topographical maps and it gives vegetation and animal migration and range patterns. I am reviewing the MRS section of Eastmans' which is great to give hunt odds, rates of success, etc. I also am reviewing forums, such as, this one to gain any insight or tips on how to find these animals from afar. For my (sort of) more immediate Colorado high country mule deer hunt that I’ll plan to draw for in 2015 or 2016 I’ve started talking to local Biologists in the couple areas that we have narrowed our list to.
Problem is I suspect that I have gaps in my research. I’m unfamiliar with what might be public or private land in a given unit. I don’t always know the vegetation or what a particular animal might be feeding on in a given area. I also struggle finding maps that may show the pertinent information I desire. Hiking trails, BLM area, forest areas, roads, etc.
Would anyone care to share info on tools you use to research from afar or the system you use when researching a new area?
Wow I feel like I just wrote a short novel.