GAME WARDEN APPROVED: ONXMAPS SOLVES THE CONFUSION IN THE FIELD
by Jason Duetsch, District Wildlife Manager Colorado Parks and Wildlife
As a Colorado Game warden I am expected to know my district inside and out. This includes 4WD roads and foot trails as well as property boundaries, access points and the layout of the land in the remote areas in between. I have spent many days in the field over the past 11 years marching property lines in order to provide insight to hunters before they make a serious mistake. It also means I know when people are lying to me about how they accessed certain areas.
In Colorado, landowners do not have to post or fence their property in any way which can put a lot of stress on the hunter. Claiming ignorance will not save you from a large fine and possible hunting suspension if the landowner decides to press trespass charges after discovering you illegally hunting on their property.
I have read many navigation books, developing training programs for new officers, hunter education instructors and students. Unfortunately, I always must tell students that there is no perfect map. They are always missing something; UTM marks, lines of topography, orientation, private/public land designation, etc. The vast majority of hunters are very diligent when it comes to obeying wildlife laws. However, most lack the land navigation skills necessary to feel confident roaming the backcountry or accessing public lands on a patchy mosaic of private ranches and federal lands in the west. I am excited to say that onXmaps may have helped solve one of the major challenges hunters face in the field: knowing where they are. This will give them more opportunity to focus on why they’re out there…to locate game and enjoy the hunt!
I recently had the chance to test out the latest onXmaps Hunt products. They included the “Premium App Membership” as well as the HUNT Colorado “Premium GPS Chip.” They are both outstanding products. With products like these there is no excuse to point out your location on an outdated paper atlas that is using a 1:100,000 scale. There is also no longer a reason for a hunter to tell me they have a GPS but can’t figure out how to stay off lands they don’t have permission to hunt.
The hunt app for your android or iOS device was a breeze to install on my iphone. It was also amazingly intuitive to navigate. In no time I was probing through all the screens soaking up and verifying information. I was impressed with the numerous basemap options. My favorite is the Topo+Trails. The layers (including GMU boundaries) and markup icons provide so much flexibility and customization that you almost can’t help but smile. The property ownership and access detail is outstanding. It makes legally accessing complicated areas stress free, regardless of the weather or time of day. The Offline Cache feature also solves the problem of no cell service, no map. It’s a brilliant, easy to use feature.
For those folks who aren’t planning on giving up your handheld GPS unit (I don’t blame you) the onXmaps Hunt Premium GPS chip is a must have. I will be recommending it to every hunter education class, officer and hunter I meet in the field who is using a GPS. It just makes sense. It’s easy to install and start using. It will help get more folks away from their vehicles and into the wild. I use mine with the Garmin Rhino series GPS units and couldn’t be happier with its features and performance.
Finally, if you’re the non-tech savvy type who believes there is no way you would be able to easily install and use the products to their full potential, you may be pleasantly surprised. That’s because onXmaps have developed numerous well designed, short, straight forward tutorials that will get you up to speed. If that’s not enough you can do what I did when I couldn’t find the answer to a question I had (what map datum are they using for their UTM grid). I went to their website, called their phone number and got an actual human being who within 30 seconds was able to get back to me with the answer…WGS84. If only more companies would provide this kind of service to their customers.