This may be old news to many of you, but we’ve recently been hearing from others who have begun using and exploring an interactive mapping tool which has been integrated into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website. Although this feature, MI-Hunt, is described on their website as being primarily a tool for planning hunts in and around public lands and State Game and Wildlife areas (which it is), it also includes many elements which other outdoor users may also find helpful. The DNR describes MI-Hunt as follows:
“Department of Natural Resources (DNR) introduces a cutting-edge, web-based application that allows users to plan their next hunting trip. Mi-HUNT users can navigate through a variety of map layers to create their own custom maps or download pre-made maps to meet their specific hunt planning needs. Mi-HUNT also includes GPS download so users can pick a spot on the map in Mi-HUNT and navigate to it while hunting.”
Select Private Land Open to the Public for Hunting
All State Game and Wildlife Areas
7,000,000 Acres of Vegetation Cover Types
Aerial Imagery in a Variety of Formats Covering the Entire State
Recreational Facilities such as Forest Campgrounds, Trails, Wildlife Areas and Boat Ramps
Street Maps and Directions to their Hunting Areas”
The first page of the site includes a series of tutorials which can save you a lot of time. If, on the other hand, you are like many of us who believe they “don’t need no stinkin’ tutorials” and cannot resist randomly clicking through tabs and links, that’s fine too – good luck with that, however.
For many hunters and recreational users, this site can actually be viewed as a replacement for county plat map books, U.S. Geological Survey topographic, aerial and Forestry Compartment Cover maps (the later of which only the most die-hard upland bird hunters have traditionally made the commitment to locate and decipher).
The “search” tab can recognize street addresses, county locations, latitude/longitude, or X/Y geo-referencing. The “route” tab allows for the creation of multi-point route mapping which can also be saved for download to handheld GPS units.
The map layering feature is essentially a basic home version of more sophisticated GIS mapping systems. One can quickly click between street, topographic, general aerial (2009), infrared aerial (1998), and timber/cover maps. When activated, the map layering features allow for the display of recreational trails, camping and lake access sites.
When the MI-Hunt “cover” types box is checked, the general timber/cover type is displayed through the use of a color-coded legend. Timber stand class/density is displayed numerically and the combination of these display features is far more user-friendly to the lay-user than are the traditional DNR Forestry Compartment maps.
For advanced techno-geeks some of the features are likely to be viewed as being very basic. For the rest and likely majority of potential users, it could become a fun way to blend technology with the outdoor experience. Although this may seem like an oxymoron to many, it may also be a great way to connect the next generation of outdoor users who may actually view such an application as being the best of both worlds.