Thursday, May 19, 2011

Product Review: HuntingGPS Maps from Montana Maps & GPS
"Ummm... I've seen that same tree three or four times. I think we're lost."
Ever hear your hunting buddy say that or have you ever thought that when hunting alone? Ever wondered if you were on public or private land? Now is the time to start using a tool that will help you with all of that, provided you own a GPS. If you don't own one and you hunt the back country, I highly recommend one.

For the past year I have been putting HuntingGPS Maps to the test on my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx. These maps work in tandem with my Garmin mapping software. I was able to download the California map and open it with MapSource. When owner/map developer Eric Siegfried and I spoke about the software and how it works, he also mentioned that the mapping software would be updated 2-3 times per year. Wow, really? Not many companies do that, but these guys update often because land ownership changes constantly and they want outdoorsman to know where they are and to be legal.

Installing the software was a challenge. You really have to know your mapping software and be able to load these maps, then find them and open them. I had to email Eric to figure it all out. I chalk it up to being a newbie to the GPS realm, but I wanted to give you all a heads up that it may be a bit frustrating at first, but don't give up! Read on!


Example map from my database.

This is from their website, but I left the colors so you can understand how it works.
The maps are colored according to BLM map standards [BLM, State , Forest Service , private=white, US Fish & Wildlife , National Parks , Indian Reservations, etc.]

You will be able to see your position relative to public and private land boundaries. For example, if you are on a BLM section, your current location will show up on a yellow background. If you are on private land, your GPS will show your current location on a white background.

The software is quick, efficient and most of all accurate. It shows the borders between public and private land and give you a color difference so you won't make the mistake of venturing onto private property.

Not only did I take this out each time I hit public land, but I also decided to take it with me to my pig hunting spot. It's on private land, with specific boundaries, and I wanted to be sure of that everything worked properly. Just before I left, I received an email from HuntingGPS Maps saying there was an update to my mapping software. I was very happy to see that not only did they update the software more often than other companies (many times once a year or never without having to pay a fee), but they also let you know right away. Shortly after that, they went ahead and updated the California map to add the CA-DFG Wildlife Areas. Awesome!

Each time I ventured out to a certain area, I loaded up the map from my computer to my GPS. I added whatever notes, waypoints or info I though I would want when hiking through the woods.  Once I was at my location, I'd turn on the GPS and navigate. I could then add my waypoints and start hiking. I always turn on the tracking (breadcrumb) feature on the GPS so that if I do happen to get in a hard to push forward area, I can find my way back. Plus, if I ever get stopped by DFG, I will have a trail of where I have been if I am ever questioned about trespassing. I also leave the tracking on so that if I am hunting a new area or I just want to view where I traveled, I can go home, load the GPS data on my computer and see where I was and make a plan for me next trip.

This software is a great tool for hunter, but here is the downside - it's only available to Garmin GPS units. Here's the listing of units it works with. It's only my opinion, but I think Garmin has one of the best GPS lines out there. The HuntingGPS Maps would probably look fantastic on the Oregon. I know that I am constantly referring back to my maps on the computer and comparing land borders to my hunting areas each time the newest version of the software is released. 

The investment is worth it in my opinion. $99.99 gets you the map on an SD card. $129.99 for the MapSource/BaseCamp Download. To me that is worth not venturing onto private land, getting a ticket or being shot at. Check out their website for more details on the mapping software and how it can work for you.
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Disclaimer: The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. This product was provided to me for the purpose of review. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you SO much for giving us an inside look at this for a potential option. Being a newbie to DIY hunting Southern California I have quickly learned that i MUST invest in a hand held GPS especially in the National Forest where I've been roaming. Do you have a GPS recommendation, Make, and Model. I've looked at so many I've confused myself.

    I did download the San Bernardino Shooting Area APP for my iPhone is a HUGE help. the clarity of the map is awesome and clearly defines shooting and hunting areas and by what method.

    Thanks for any insight you have on a GPS, make, and model that you recommend.

    Pastor Kerry

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  2. You bet, Kerry! As far as a GPS, I say go to Bass Pro this weekend and pick up the same unit I have, the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx. Works great anywhere, even in the steep canyons. It's on sale for $30 less than what I paid for it on sale over a year ago! It's something like $130 right now. But, if money is no object, I think the Oregon and the Colorado are awesome. Big screen, touch-screen and work great.

    Let me know what you decide!
    Al

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  3. So you like the eTrex Legend HCX better than the 62s or the 62st ?
    The Oregon looks nice as well. Didn't see a "colorado", saw a "dakota".

    Do you have an opinion on the Rino with the 2-way com?

    Money as you can imagine for a pastor is always a concern, but I am trying to make the best decision for the safety of the boys and I being in the mountains alone.

    Kerry

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  4. Whoops, may have seen that someplace else and got that stuck in my head. The 62s is supposed to be good, but I didn't look hard at it. The Rino is supposed to be great, too.

    Here's what I like to tell people. Each GPS is going to have a boatload of gadgets inside. Mine alone has SOOOO many features. I use it for the mapping and for the tracking. That's it. The rest of the time I am focusing on hunting.

    If you are concerned about being out there alone, I would recommend a SPOT locator. I carry one of those and pray that I never have to use it.

    Cheers,
    Al

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  5. Good review, Al! I have seen these maps mentioned before and I really wondered about them. Now that I have a better understanding of how they work, it does seem like a good investment, especially for your hunting locale.

    Kerry - I have the Garmin 62csx, and I absolutely love it! It has been discontinued, and replaced by newer 62-series models, but it is a great unit. REI has the 62csx for $220 and if you are a member (or if you join) they have a 20% discount going on right now.

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  6. Hey... Thanks guys... This gives me really good food for thought as I build out my pack.

    Kerry

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