|Tools of the Trade for Land Management|
I like the old saying, "Don’t work harder, work smarter." The technology and tools available today make it easier for land managers to work smarter as they make their wildlife management plans.
Once used simply to get from point A to B and back to A, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are continually expanding capabilities for the hunter and land manager. The Magellan Explorist 500 offers area calculation which saves a wealth of time for the land manager. With this feature, you simply mark way-points around the perimeter of your property or food plot, and the unit will calculate the square area. With a simple conversion, you know exactly how many acres you have. With some practice, you basically can become your own land surveyor, and the color display screen on the Explorist 500 brings attention to detail.
You can also walk or paddle the perimeter of fish ponds with the GPS to calculate the water area. This can help determine how much herbicide, lime or fertilizer to add to the pond in addition to determining stocking rates.
Using a combination of handheld GPS units and aerial maps, other land management tasks are made easier. If it’s time to harvest timber from your property, the area calculation features helps you get an accurate idea of how much timber you really have. Aerial photography allows you to mark the timber and topographic maps help determine the steepness of the property for harvesting with equipment. You can basically cruise your own timber.
Game cameras have created a new level of excitement among hunters and land managers. To be able to see the mature 10-point buck or a new flock of turkeys in high quality digital imagery creates a rush of anticipation. Land managers can continually monitor the wildlife population when these cameras are placed around feeding sites.
Moultrie Feeders makes a 4.0 megapixel game camera called the Game Spy available at your local Quality Co-op. The Game Spy can be removed from its post or tree and be used to capture the hunter and his harvest in the same way a pocket digital would be used. One thing I’ve found especially useful on the Game Spy is the fact that the SD flash card is the same one used in many pocket digital cameras. If I want to view what’s on the game camera, I simply remove the SD card from the game camera, pop it into my pocket digital camera and scroll through the pictures deleting the ones I don’t want to keep.
Rangefinders help tremendously during bow hunts or figuring distances for long range rifle shots. Ranging land marks while in your tree stand or blind allows the bow hunter to make accurate shots every time. When it’s time to sight in your rifle, a rangefinder instantly gives the yardage to your target.
Rangefinders can be used to set up ideal hunting situations. For instance, if I’ve found an ideal overhanging limb in my hunting spot, I’ll range the distance from the overhanging limb to my hunting set-up, making a mock scrape within bow range of my stand. Rangefinders also work well when determining distances you need to clear out for shooting lanes in thick underbrush.
Rangefinders also have useful benefits for the land manager. If you need to construct a fence, once you’ve cleared the lane, simply range the distance while standing at the corner of the proposed fence. This distance will be used to calculate the amount of posts, wire, staples and any gate openings you will need. Nikon offers a Laser 800 that gives accurate ranging up to 800 yards.
Online Mapping Services
Knowing every square inch of your property is critical to hunting and land management success. Being able to access topography maps and aerial photos gives the land manager a bird’s eye view of the best food plot sites and travel corridors without even setting foot on the land. This is truly helpful when developing a game management plan or simply an afternoon hunt.
Through Mytopo you can order large, waterproof topographic maps or aerial photos of your property. You simply log into the website, www.mytopo.com, punch in the coordinates of your property centering your map the way you like it and order a variety of map types and styles.
ATVs have been a hunter and land manager’s best friend for years now. Not only do they save time getting around a piece of hunting property and hauling out big game, they are helpful when preparing food plots and carrying land management supplies.
Moultrie Feeders’ front mounted seed sower allows you to plant a food plot as fast as you can comfortably drive an ATV. Being mounted on the front allows the rider to see the seed dispersal and easily tell if the hopper is almost empty. The feeder also comes
with a plastic cover to protect your seeds from rain while in the field. I use a small, 12-volt lawn and garden battery to power the ATV implements that require electrical power.
Figuring fencing supplies, estimating acreage and timber stand size, and determining lake volume are all critical areas for the land manager. Today’s technology makes these calculations as easy as punching buttons and pressing keys.
John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.