Interactive maps aid more than just hunters |

Interactive maps aid more than just hunters

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent file

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” No matter how much you prepare for a hunting trip, you may not actually get to take down an animal. Just knowing where an animal beds or feeds can do a lot to improve your outing. If not, you may never get the full experience, but the Colorado Division of Wildlife is doing all they can to at least give hunters a better opportunity of bagging that trophy, whatever it may be.

“We are a public agency, so at some level we have an obligation to make the information available to hunters,” said DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. “Hunting is a management tool for wildlife. So, it’s in our best interest to get a good harvest, to keep those wildlife populations at healthy levels, and any information we can provide hunters helps to do that.”

For at least five years, the DOW has offered Game Management Unit Maps (GMU) that give detailed description of the units characteristics. But with advancing technologies in computers, software and mapping, the DOW also offers interactive maps online that provide much more detail, like specific boundary information, vegetation, general ownership, on 100K and 24K U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps.

An invaluable tool used when planning where to look for the species you are licensed to hunt.

“The more savvy sportsmen are able to go in and look at the area they are hunting and find where the animals typically will be,” Hampton said. “It’s a tricky system that takes some time getting used to, but it can provide some really good information.”

For example, hunters can go onto the interactive map website at, and click on the game management unit they are licensed to hunt. From there, a list of information from area campgrounds, mountain summits, nearby cities, streams, lakes, viewing areas are all available for mapping. But that is only the beginning.

By clicking on the “Click for game maps” link to the upper right of the map, information regarding animal habits from where they summer range, winter range and transitional range are helpful for hunters knowing where to find a good spot for a successful hunt.

“Some hunters will use them in many ways,” Hampton said. “They can use them to look at the migratory path, so now they know where the animals are coming from during that period and where they will be going through to get to the winter areas. That lets them know where to hunt.”

Anecdotally, Hampton said, the DOW has found that hunters who do the homework and research up front, being educated on a specific area, knowing what species they are going to see on the ground, and scout the area ahead of time and use these maps as a source of information, typically raise the potential of a successful hunt.

“It may not guarantee a successful hunt,” Hampton said. “But it will increase your chances.”

And it’s only going to get better in the future. Hampton said that the DOW is currently having discussions on how to improve the mapping system and how to maximize the long-term use of the system.

“As we push the envelope, we are looking for ways to make the information more easily accessible,” Hampton said.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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