Using a Topographical Map While Hunting

When hand-held GPS (global positioning system) devices hit the market, some hunters literally dropped their topographical maps and compasses into trash cans.

Topographical Maps are Usually Color-Coded: Green for Land, Blue for Water, Brown for Landforms, etc.

If you have decided to follow their lead, perhaps you should read further!

Topographical Maps

These unique maps are helpful to folks who travel cross-country not using roads — such as hunters!

Many of these maps are available from the US Geological Survey (1-800-USA-MAPS).

Note in the photo above, the contour lines show elevation.  The map will tell you how much elevation each line is indicating (such as, 40 feet of elevation between lines).

Contour lines do not cross.  As the mapped area gets steeper, the contour lines get closer together.  Thus, if you are hunting, you may want to avoid a very steep area.

Hunters Using Topographical Maps

When hunters use their animal knowledge coupled with their topographical maps, they are dramatically increasing their chances of a successful hunt.

If you are hunting elk, you know that they prefer to inhabit a high bench on a north slope — away from trails and traffic.

Looking on your topographical map, you would seek areas with widely spaced contour lines (gentle slopes) with high elevations.

If you find blue lines threading through the area (water, stream, etc.), this is even better!  You know that elk like water.

The beauty of one of these maps is that it shows the entire area, generally further than your eye can see.  The map and a compass are particularly useful during foggy conditions or where the terrain is difficult.

If you are searching for whitetail in a forested area, the map will show man-made trails that may help you get to the area under question.  The map will tell you were the higher and lower elevations of the forest are.

The more info you know — going into a hunting situation — the better the hunting session.  Remember, your prey knows all the nooks and crannies of the land.

Since he already knows — it is your business to find out — so you can  anticipate your prey.


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Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 12:50 am  Comments Off on Using a Topographical Map While Hunting  
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Critical Fishing Tools: Besides a Rod, Reel & Tackle

Going fishing is a chancy thing, right?  You may or may not connect with fish.  Is there anything that will increase your chances of finding fish — besides a GPS (Ground Positioning System)?

Amazing Tools

Finding fish can be a lot like ‘Russian Roulette’ – everything depending on chance.  However, once I learned about the lake maps where I fished, things changed.

There are a variety of maps available, depending on the popularity of the body of water where you want to fish.

The most common ones are available from the local bait or tackle shop.  They are also available online (Google: list the name of the body of water + map) from map companies and (often) your state fishing department.

In some areas, you can get them from the local fisheries.   I’ve even seen them offered by County Extension Agencies.

What Kind of Maps?

Maps offer differing information.  A contour map shows the contours of the water where you want to fish.  Here’s a simple contour map of Balsam Lake in New York).

This map indicates the shallow edges of the lake, where the water drops to 5 feet and where the deep hole is at 10 feet.

Most bodies of water have a number of deep holes and sand bars and the contour map will indicate them.

The Latest Lake Survey Map

This useful map has a wealth of info:  game fish available, aquatic vegetation types (their locations and which fish call them home), water quality, and much more.

One of the most useful features might just be the information on the forage fish populations.  If the game fish are bass, then knowing which fish they use for food will help you select likely baits and a successful strategy for fishing.

Keeping a Log

Second to the maps in value, to my mind, is keeping a log of fishing experiences.  Things I include in my log:

  • Type of water,
  • Season,
  • Water temperature
  • Cover type (sandy bottom, sparse vegetation, are examples)
  • Structural patterns (if any)
  • Water level,*
  • Water depth,
  • Water clarity,
  • Time of day

I’m amazed how quickly I forget important facts.  Without my log, I wouldn’t be able to learn nearly as much from my past experiences.


* If you find that the water level has dropped, most likely the fish have moved to deeper water.  If the water level has risen, the fish are likely to have moved to shallow areas.


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Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm  Comments Off on Critical Fishing Tools: Besides a Rod, Reel & Tackle  
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Turkeys: The Best Time to Hunt

This article is written on the premise that you are hunting on public lands.

First Day

It’s a given that  public lands will be busy on opening day of turkey season –particularly if the season starts on a weekend. 


Avoid Shooting Gobblers In or Near Their Roosts!


If you are on public lands, you need to outsmart turkeys and other hunters!  This requires planning before the opening hours of turkey season.

Pre-Season Activities

Generally, topographical maps are available for national forests and other public lands.  This is an  important ally in your quest for a gobbler.

Before hunting season starts, you need to know where water is located and scout the trails on this land. Young turks like to have their roosts near water.

Listen for gobbling, look for roosts (in trees) and the strutting zones of gobblers. (There’s more info in Turkey Hunting : Pre-Season Work for Hunters).

MDH* recommends shooting a turkey no closer than 200 yards to where he roosts!  Watch where gobblers go after they jump down from their roosts and set-up in a likely spot for him to travel past you.

Remember, avoid shooting turkeys at or in their roosts!  Why? Turkeys will move elsewhere – permanently!

Hunting Pressure and Turkeys

“Hunting pressure” is an odd phrase but it is important to understand how turkeys respond to hunting pressure.

When there are lots of hunters trying their luck in a particular place, this ‘hunting pressure’ causes turkeys to become hard to kill. When turkeys have lots of exposure to hunters in a short period of time, they learn from those encounters.

Lots of hunters come to public hunting places in the early morning and are gone by 7:30 or so. By letting the turkeys settle back down for a couple of hours, many hunters are successful at 10 am (late morning)!

For more info, go to Not Bagging Your Turkey Limit? Maybe You Need to Sleep Later!”


* MDH = My Dear Husband



My “new” favorite bumper sticker:

“I’ll keep my money and my guns, and you can keep the CHANGE!”

(I love subtle digs!)


This blog is a companion to my website:

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 9:58 pm  Comments Off on Turkeys: The Best Time to Hunt  
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