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I start with the topo's for the area or a forest service map if available. If those don't yeild enough information or if the land is partially private, I write to the local BLM office and get the section map for the area I plan to hunt. That provides the names of the owners of the property and a reasonable idea where the boundries are.
I usually start out with the DeLorme atlas for that state(I have several) and start narrowing down my choices. I look for extended ridge systems at the right elevation for the latitude. I look for areas with minimal road systems. From there I make several calls to F&G inquiring about population, access and hunter pressure.
I recommend you also gety a land status map from the BLM. These are usually updated every 1 or 2 years and show who owns what--NF, BLM, Military, BIA, private etc.
Once I narrow it down to 1 or 2 areas I buy the 1:60,000 series maps (1 inch = 1 mile)
Something to consider--hire a small plane to fly you over the area, especially if you have multiple spots in a given area you're interested in. Seeing the terrain from just a few hundred feet above shows things you won't catch on a map.
I have been to a few web sites that have arial photos. Can't give you a URL since I just reformated/reloaded my PC but there are some out there. I used them to get a real visual of what I was looking at on the topo maps.
I start with the DeLorme atlas for that state, it's a good one to have around in the future. Then, I go to one of the on-line custom topo map sites like "My Topo.com, and customize a map of the area. It cost about $20, but you can center it where you want, and it covers about the same as three or four regular topos, and its water proof.
I use a program (free) called usaphotomaps.
You can toggle between topo and sattelite photos, and create and download you waypoints with it. Last year i used it to find the corners of the public land VS private and it put me within 10 feet of the actual fence with my GPS. I also walked withing 20 feet of small tanks that i marked waypoints from the program. Those too were right on.
The neat thing is after the trip you can download all your used waypoints onto the programs and get a real relation of where you were, and where you could have gone.
Check it out, its worth the time but you really need high speed internet to make it work right since it downloads the maps and pics from the web.
Maps! we don't need no stinking maps. who cares if we wonder onto private land. who cares if we get lost and need the rescue teams to spend tons o'cash to come get us. who cares if we end up on a restricted military base to be chased around by the uniforms in their little 4x4.
heck, I have been inspred by the Moose Man. give me some undies and a frying pan and I can backpack through the entire wilderness in a few hours.