HuntingGPSmaps Third-Party Software
The third party software I’ve been using is called “HuntingGPSmaps”, made by Montana Mapping & GPS, LLC (available at the Long Range Hunting Store). This company has a good understanding of what hunters want and need, and how to make the product easy to use effectively. This product is sold several ways.
MontanaGPSmaps Software on Garmin GPS: Here you can clearly see on the GPS screen what the land ownership status is - and even the private landowner’s name - by using the MontanaGPSmaps software. The best part is that the GPS will show you your exact location in relation to a property line.
Option 1 is to buy a mini SD card that can be inserted into compatible Garmin GPS units. You can see a list of compatible GPS models on their website, as well as a list of retailers.
Option 2 is to download the software from their website onto your home computer. You can then transfer it onto your GPS.
The map software is sold on a state-by-state basis and costs about $100 per state for the SD card and $130 per state for the downloadable versions. While both of these versions work the same way on your GPS, they do have their pros and cons. The mini SD card is easier to get going, as all you do is insert the card and go. The download is more time-consuming and takes a little time getting it transferred from your computer to the GPS, but the benefit is that you can view the map on your computer as well, which is nice for scouting and seeing a larger area than you can on a small GPS screen.
While this software is not inexpensive, it’s still a value when compared to the cost and time of getting even small areas of a state printed on a custom map with the land-ownership layers, not to mention you can’t pay a paper map to tell you exactly where you’re standing in relation to a property line (priceless info).
So this takes care of everything on the land ownership status front, but having the BLM or Forest map along with the GPS software still doesn’t offer much for detailed topography. Even though the HuntingGPSmaps software offers great detail at a scale of 1:24,000, which is what I want, the problem is that when you are zoomed in, the GPS screen is too small to see much country at once.
Because of this, I still need another map. For this, I just need a basic map at a scale of 1:24,000 that has contour lines and shows where the timber is located, so I can see the lay of the land easily. There are several ways to track these maps down, but a USGS 7.5-minute quad is hard to beat for the price. They cost $8 per map and each map covers roughly 60 square miles on a 16”x22” sheet of paper. The drawbacks are that these don’t offer shaded relief, which makes them a little tougher to read the contours, and you can’t have the USGS center a map on a particular location (they are all fixed areas).
This can be a pain if your hunting area lies on the edge of two maps and you have to piece two maps together to see your area. You can either buy these online at www.usgs.gov, or track them down fairly easily by asking around at local sporting good stores.
National Geographic Topo Series
Another way to go is with the National Geographic Topo State Series software. It allows you to print your own maps at home at the scale you select and the exact area you select, but unless you have a giant plotter, you will have to tape papers together to see much at once. The other downside is the price; it’s $50 per state, so it depends on how many places you hunt each year and how many maps you need in order to see if the price is worth it. These maps, like the USGS quads, show good topographic and vegetative detail.