high resolution mapsIt seems that outdoorsmen today have limitless options when it comes to pre-season scouting; whether it be Google earth, National Geographic, high resolution maps, or the latest Garmin GPS. You can fully scout your area, from your nearest computer, or smart phone. I recently fell into this trap myself, with near perilous results. Sometimes there is just no substitute for putting boots to trail.

On my most recent mule deer hunt, I decided to hunt an area that I had never been to before. As always I was promised endless bounties of trophy bucks. I began my research in mid-March. My first resource was Google Earth. Countless hours were spent in front of a computer screen, looking for satellite images of game trails and watering holes. Next, I overlaid those images onto various high-resolution topographical maps. I even went as far as having a local map supply store print me off a custom 7.5 minute quad of my area.

By the time the season came, I felt as though I had hunted the area for years, even though I had actually never been there. I had a trail all picked out that lead to three ponds, that I planned on hunting. After I arrived at the first pond, I was shocked to find that it wasn’t a pond at all; instead it was a stagnant mud hole, populated by grazing cattle.

Google EarthNo worries. I went to pond number two with an identical result. Still I was not disheartened in the least, because pond number three, I knew, due to my hours on Google Earth, was large and obviously deep. When I arrived, I found, again, the pond to only be a couple inches deep and filled with all manner of disgusting cow by-product. Luckily the water filter I brought with me cleared out MOST, note that I said most, of the viruses and bacteria that cause all kinds of diseases. I could have found this all out, well in advance, if instead of relying on technology, I would have just laced up my favorite pair of Danner boots, grabbed my hunting supplies and hit the trails, and found out for myself. With hunting, as with life, there are no shortcuts.

Brett Gillan is a Camping and Giftbar E-Commerce merchant who enjoys the outdoors. He is a hunting enthusiast and is always looking forward to the next hunt.