Uncharted hunting destinations
Technology continues to change the nature of hunting with everything from drones to satellites used to scout new locations. Rob Treble describes how to use available technology to your advantage.
Over the past 35 years many things have changed in the waterfowl hunting community; change is inevitable and never ending. The most significant is the introduction of the internet and smartphones.
No longer is there a secret spot: with this technology I can zoom into the hidden hole that I could hear old mate banging away in and work out if I can access it or not.
Additionally, public land hunters have increased significantly in recent years; this can cause crowding on popular hunting locations, as can wetland closures, detracting from your hunting trip.
This article will assist you in developing options on the wetlands that receive minimum hunting pressure.
I am for the most part a public land waterfowl hunter and as such, I am required to have knowledge of where I can and cannot hunt. The internet is my primary tool to research, scout and plan hunts before I even visit an area.
So where do I start?
The Game Management Authority website (www.gma.vic.gov.au) details many great hunting destinations around the state and provides some good information. To start your desktop scouting, look at the individual fact sheets on the game reserve. It also details where waterfowl may be hunted or not by the land classification. The map information is limited and it details the size of the reserve not the size of the wetland. Other details include access roads, local points of contacts, a guide to what species are present and an indication of depth and what type of
hunting you can do. For land information visit maps.land.vic.gov.au/lassi to determine if land is public land and roads are public. Another useful tool is www.maps.vic.gov.au/mapshare because you can apply different layers of information to the map; the functionality of the tool allows you to determine if there is any licence over the land. It also allows you to obtain wetland information, such as the size of the wetland and so forth.
The travel mate website
(www.travelmate.com.au/map) is good for road maps, directions and an estimated travel time to your hunting destination. When traveling for a few days I use this to plan my trip, usually starting at the furthest hunting destination to shorten the drive home on Sunday.
Using a search engine such as Google is also helpful; simply enter your hunting destination (wetland name). It will usually produce something, for example, maps, management plans and general information. You may have to wade through a lot of information, but there are gems amongst it.
Google Earth is an excellent source of satellite imagery that provides detail of wetland, and adjoining land use. You are able to zoom in and have a bird’s eye view of your hunting destination, and they show tracks and wetland features: those honeyholes the ducks frequently use.
Perceptive waterfowl hunters have been using these resources for years. The only issue is that the all of the images are dated and not truly reflective of water level or current conditions.
All water authorities have websites. Goulburn-murray Water provides a list of all lakes where waterfowl hunting is allowed, details any conditions on hunting and lists boat ramps and amenities. Water levels are available and are current.
Catchment Management Authorities provide wetland information on their websites and social media pages. These detail things like watering plans, which provide information on water depth, species and when the watering is going to occur.
Social media — love it or hate — is a source of a lot of information, especially on the dedicated hunting pages.
It is important to do research beyond what you read: is it still hunting well, has access changed, is hunter pressure an issue or protest activity?
I also use a handy phone app called Measure Your Land when I am hunting on public land. I have usually picked my hunting location and used the app to measure the distance from the access point to the hunting area and to check the range of any building so I’m not dropping pellets on the roof.
You can gather a lot of information about hunting destinations from a variety of sources without having to leave your home. I have developed a template that I use to collate the information for my scouting trips. Many of the sites above allow you to print the information.
The best part about desktop scouting is that it can be done in the off season any time you have a few hours to burn. I like to hunt different wetlands. It’s not about filling the bag; I like to test my hunting skills and knowledge in different environments and enjoying new scenery.
Enjoy your 2018 season, hunt safely and for the future.