I can’t remember a time in my life where a map hasn’t been close by. I spend hours going over the topo lines, dreaming of mountain monarchs in little gulches and potholes, bighorns running on top of the reefs, muleys holed up deep in the middle of rough coulee country and whitetail silently walking down the river bottom.
Maps are a part of my life that help hold the mystery of what’s around the next corner in the river or over the next ridge. They help me plan my fishing, scouting and hunting trips as well as help me stay on the right side of the section line.
We carry different maps today than we did just a few, short years ago. GPS units with mapping data keep us from running on to private land with remarkable ease. Google Earth makes scouting for likely spots easier and while there are a few programs like the Atlas, nothing comes close to what we offer - for free.
The Sportsman’s Atlas includes several layers that help hunters and anglers in Montana find block management areas, Roadless areas, hunt districts, landownership, and even fishing access sites. The layers also include Satellite imagery, topographic imargy and a layer dedicated exclusively to the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
LWCF in Montana has provided funding for 70% of our Fishing Access Sites and some of our best hunting grounds like Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area and the soon to be completed Tenderfoot Project in the Belts. LWCF is up for renewal this coming year, and as we’ve written about before, we’ll need all hands on deck to push the bill through our undeniably broken congress to reauthorize and fund this 50 year old success story.
Until then though, it’s hunting season. More importantly, it’s the week before general rifle opener and my web browser has the atlas open at all times so I can figure out what my plan of attack will be on that bomber muley buck somewhere deep in Coulee country.
Check out the Sportsman's Atlas here: http://map.mtbullypulpit.org/