“Most of our time will be spent on the road, searching for speed goats and verifying property boundaries on paper maps,” explained my uncle, a repeat visitor to Montana’s pronghorn country. “We’ll have to switch off roles between driving and manning the maps.”
I was willing to do anything and everything necessary to up my odds of bringing home a tasty prongie. But really? Was our best navigational option to glaze over black-and-white paper maps all day to find hunt-able land? It seemed so … primitive.
It didn’t take long for me to hit up Mark Kayser for some of his hardcore DIY hunting insight. If you read Mark’s blog, magazine column or watch him on North American Hunter-TV, you should know that he busts his ass to kill a lot of great big game animals every year. Yeah, Mark is kind of a redneck, but he’s really one hell of a tech-savvy cowboy—especially when it comes to making his hunts more productive. Mark was full of seasoned advice for putting antelope on the ground with archery tackle, but one of his foremost gear recommendations was this: “Get a Montana chip from Hunting GPS Maps.
As the name clearly suggests, Hunting GPS Maps is a company that specializes in compiling maps that are super beneficial to hunters who own GPS units. Simply choose the state in which you’ll be hunting, buy a chip and plop it into a Garmin GPS unit. Instantly, your GPS will display color-coded boundaries between public and private lands, and a bunch of other helpful data. With state-specific chips, the names of private landowners are included (knock, knock); regional chips offer most of the same critical info for finding hunting land, minus the landowner names.
The amount of public hunting ground in Montana is incredible. To run out of public land for chasing critters in Big Sky Country is virtually impossible. During our pronghorn excursion, most of our time was spent hunting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acreage or Block Management Areas (BMAs). The BMA program is sweet for landowners and hunters. Hunters sign up for access to otherwise private pieces and landowners are reimbursed by the state for putting their properties into the program.
Where we were hunting, in eastern Montana, the only hang-up is that you need to find scattered mailboxes to fill out the BMA access information, and your best bet is to spend time signing up for multiple properties. You can reserve only 3 days at a time with a single signup. And it’s at the mailboxes where you find the paper maps that outline boundaries for those specific properties. Soon, your lap is full of maps that might not even connect. Then comes time to pound the pavement—or dirt or gravel—and drive until you see an animal you want to get after. If that animal is on a BMA, you’d better hope you signed up to hunt there.
During an average 3- to 5-day trip with two or three hunters, you can expect to put on hundreds of road miles searching for game. While basic drive time eats up hours alone, factor in the red tape of trying to keep track of legit property boundaries by digging through a stack of paper maps. If your maps get lost, spilled on or sucked out the window of your ride, you’re screwed. Bottom line: Dealing with old-school maps is a stressful, unnecessary, time-sucking hassle. A Garmin equipped with a Hunting GPS Maps chip is medicine for all those headaches. Just fire-up your GPS, hit the road and let the maps guide the way to your next new honey-hole.
Most importantly, with the help of Hunting GPS Maps, you’ll spend more time with your boots on the ground. If I had to guess, we were probably able to fit in five extra stalks because of the time we saved by using this technology. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t leave the state with any flesh or bones, but next time we will—with a Garmin and Hunting GPS Maps in hand.
Hunting GPS Maps SD chips sell for right around $100. The savings in time, gas and frustration will quickly cover the cost of your investment in a chip.
You can learn more about Hunting GPS Maps in this video.