by Chris Jennings
Back in the day, waterfowl hunters relied on tools such as the Farmer's Almanac for weather and migration predictions. They rowed boats across open bays and got word-of-mouth advice on hunting locations and bird activity. Technology now provides waterfowl hunters with Doppler weather reports, migration maps and handheld GPS units. The problem is that many hunters don't utilize this technology, mainly because they don't know how.
The Internet is an endless resource and a great starting point for pre-season or mid-season scouting trips. Aerial imagery, topographic maps and road atlases can get hunters to a location quickly and safely without having to waste time getting lost on a back road. These maps, similar to what is offered through DU's Waterfowl Migration Map can be printed out and followed precisely. Other map servers can provide exact coordinates to boat ramps, access points and even the diner down the street to enjoy a celebratory breakfast after a successful hunt.
When scouting and hunting for Ducks Unlimited Television, DU Media Relations Biologist Mike Checkett uses aerial images on a regular basis in combination with road work.
"There are a lot of times where we see birds going down into an area that has no road access and that we might not know was even there," he explains. "This is where the aerial images come into play and we can locate the wetland and put together a plan on how we can get to that spot. When we are freelancing for the television show, we spend a lot of time glassing areas and then comparing what we are seeing to aerial photos and landowner maps."
Waterfowl hunters sometimes don't utilize these resources that are out there because they don't know where to start. Any online mapping site can provide detailed maps hunters can use to compare with what they are seeing when scouting and many public property maps can be found on state agency Web sites.