How to tell if you're on/(still on) the public hunting land?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Len Backus, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    I made 2 trips to WY hunting big game this fall. Both times I was hunting on various areas of public land and also scouting for public land to hunt on next year. I bought and used BLM maps which of course show state and federal land.

    When you read these maps you assume you understand pretty well where the private land starts. After all the map is to scale and you can simply count miles on your car's odometer to see where it starts. But when you approach the area in your car and later when you have wandered on the public land for a while you start to realize that in some areas it just isn't that easy...or even possible to tell if you are still legal. For example, if there is some public land next to private, there may not even be a fence between the two pieces. If the rancher is grazing on the public he doesn't even have incentive to ever build a fence (that would delineate boundaries) between the public and his private.

    I am curious to have a little discussion on this subject. Of course if you are hunting inside of huge blocks of public this is a non-issue. But how many of you are sometimes frustrated with the difficulty I had in some of the areas I hunted or scouted?
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  2. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    I was hunting antelope last week in WY. With the maps we also used GPS to see how far up we were from the major road where we started and set a waypoint. Then we marked corners with waypoints and we felt we were alway comfortable with our location. Took a bit of time but next year we are all set for the places we hunted this year. We did notice that some of the land marks on the BLM maps were long gone..:rolleyes: Also stopped by the Bureau of Land Managment and found they just completed a new map. They said they do them every 20 years whether they need to or not..:D My old map was a 1989 model, so I guess that is about right.

    Jeff
     

  3. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    What I do is use a computer program called Topo USA. Here where I live there is a lot of BLM and State of Idaho lands that are accessible intermingled with private land. To keep my kids out of trouble from trespassing I take a paper BLM map that’s to scale and also shows State of Idaho lands and transfer the relevant information into Topo USA setting waypoints at BLM corners or whatever intersections that I’m setting up. Once all the relevant information is imported into Topo USA and all the waypoints set with names that will help whoever is looking at them understand where they are I hook up a GPS (I use Garmin Etrex) to the computer. You can connect directly to the GPS with Topo USA. When everything is connected properly I export the waypoints to the GPS. Naming the waypoints is extremely important and should be done carefully. Also I transfer all the waypoint names to paper maps that each will carry while hunting.

    I use the longitude and latitude lines to establish where to start and when needed I scale the paper map. Now this I have found works pretty good especially if there are no fences for reference. Now I would not bet my life on my results but if you run into an irate rancher you at least have an argument as to where you are.

    There is more to it but you get the idea. The software I use I’ve had forever and I’m sure there is better map programs available maybe even Google Earth.
     
  4. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    There are allot of places here that the rancher paint orange on all the outside boarder fences so it looks like all of it is private but if you get out your maps you find good hunting on public ground masked by ranchers. I get the BLM maps and a land owner map that is published for each county in MT so I know public from private and also know owner to owner to make sure I'm on stuff that I have permission to be on.
     
  5. grit

    grit Well-Known Member

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    I have often found it challenging to determine property lines. I use National Geographics Trails Illustrated, and USGS maps. Both show property lines. However, a couple issues can make things difficult. One is how often the maps are revised. It is simply impossible to get an absolutely current map. The scale of the map and the grid spacing often make it difficult to refine a location.

    I frequently look for difficult to access public land. This land is often small, nearly landlocked, mismarked, and challenging to navigate accurately. Utah also has extended archery areas. These archery areas are in and around highly populated foothills. It can be frustratinnly difficult to keep track of the myriad of constantly changing boundaries.

    Another issue I've encountered more times than you'd guess is landowners posting beyond their property lines. Seems they feel entitled to a buffer zone of public land??

    The worrisome part here is taking game while trespassing carries the same penalties as poaching, here in Utah, regardless of wether or not the property is clearly marked.
     
  6. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    bigngreen, I found this happening, too.

    Grit, I found this often to be the case.

    And this land would be particularly productive because others would not put the same effort as you into accessing it.
     
  7. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    I've found some real honey holes behind some of these places, I've started to collect the gear and tack for using horses. If you are horse capable there is alot of great spots that you just can't hunt on foot cause you can't get game out, you can drag down to the road but it is closed to motorized vehicles.
    I've found the best resorce is the land ownership maps, they can be hard to track down but worth the effort as they name the land owner and are kept more current.
    One of the best things is to have a plan where to hunt then find a FWP official and talk to them and make sure all is cool up front. Some of the FWP I've talked to have been very helpfull because these guys that paint public property are a pain in there butt but they can't get anywhere with them because they have weight in the local community.
     
  8. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    In as much as my main business is geospatial services I do the following.

    Idaho has a fairly useful database of land use graphics in ESRI shape file format.

    I down load those files from the State then extract the important/useful stuff into my hunting folder.

    I then use MapInfo (GIS software) to convert to MapInfo compatible files then overlay on aerial images of the area. I then have a set of two year old aerial images with topography and overlayed with land use boundaries. Nifty for doing "office scouting".

    I then convert the MapInfo files back to ESRI shape files to load onto the IPaq for use with field software on the Ipaq.

    I have the Ipaq w/software both GIS and Exbal and a blue tooth WAAS corrected GPS receiver velcro'd to my almost camo hat or shoulder.

    Thus I know precisely where I am when I'm lost.:rolleyes:
     
  9. dirtball

    dirtball Well-Known Member

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    Did you get all of that Vern?????