Hello fellow sportsmen,
Just thought I'd give you guys at BigGameHunt Forums some more of my best kept secrets so you can get some of the big ones too. Just don't let me catch you in my best honey holes.
Are you guys aware of the fact that an increasing number of big game animals are taking refuge on private land? One of the bigger problems wildlife management agencies are facing is the number of elk that have dumped seasonal migration like a bad habit and are making certain properties their yearlong home (in most cases private ranches that don't allow hunting or allow very little hunting). Then numbers start creeping up to unhealthy level and there is nothing wildlife management can do to manage these herds. Elk seem to be the most notorius for this.
The state agencies finally get permission from one landowner to allow hunting(usually a landowner who has had all their hay eaten and has been fixing broken fence after broken fence), but the elk know where they are getting pressured and they simply find a new ranch or secluded parcel to hang out on.
As hunters, we have to be aware of these changes and adjust our strategies accordingly. Over the past few years I have started hunting where these private ranches border public land, and have found that some of the big boys occasionally venture off of the private land (especially when things are getting all stirred up in September). Usually, these pieces of public land where they are bedding or hanging out are not well known and can be difficult to get to. Have you noticed that you have to work a little harder in recent years to harvest an animal on public land?
The only problem I run into is knowing exactly what I can access and what is off limits. To solve this problem I made a land ownership overlay in Google Earth/Virtual Earth using state land survey data. The overlay shows all the state & nationally owned sections, as well as the borders of the private sections. I also made files of all the boundaries for use on my GPS. Check it out on my GPS Land Ownership Boundary Maps page.
The maps also have a really neat feature that allow me to select the parcel and see the owner's name and what type of access there is to the land. That comes in very handy when contacting landowners and trying to develop a relationship with them to allow for hunting access.
The ownership data in Montana is from January of 2008.
I now have a mapping service setup so whatever property boundaries you want to put in Google Earth or on your GPS, I can make you the map. Of course it is still your responsibility to know where you are at, but it can come in really handy to have a fairly accurate boundary on your GPS and comes in very handy for hunting land research from the computer.
Hope you find this useful,