When in roam 

Montana Mapping & GPS shows the way

Hunters, anglers and hikers all have to be aware of property boundaries so they don’t trespass on private land. Not many years ago, this involved reading maps with land ownership indicated in various colors, or by sticking to the interior of immense parcels of public land such as national forests, where boundary issues are less complicated.

Thankfully, a Missoula company eliminates the guesswork. Montana Mapping & GPS (www.huntinggpsmaps.com) offers a full line of custom GPS maps for Garmin GPS units: Public and private land boundaries simply pop up on the GPS display.

A couple of things make this software especially appealing. First, the color-coding for various types of land ownership is exactly the same as what you’d find on maps sold by government agencies, except you can get it electronically instead of carrying paper. Second, an upgrade lets you see not only the private land boundaries, but also the names of the people who own private parcels.

Last fall I used a couple of Garmin GPS units with this software while hunting. For the Garmin “Nuvi” model in my Tahoe, using HuntingGPSMaps was as simple as inserting a micro-SD memory card and powering up the unit.

I used a pair of Garmin Rinos in the field, with similarly impressive results. In Wyoming, my hunting partner dropped a big mule deer buck on a slender strip of public land intersecting a highway. West of Red Lodge, I killed a tender young whitetail on a small block of state land jutting into a private holding from the national forest. In neither case would I have been comfortable making the stalk without the map on a GPS clearly showing I was on public land.

Law enforcement personnel like the software perhaps as much as hunters. Mike Moore, a warden captain for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks in eastern Montana, told me “we’re seeing less trespassing situations than we did five years ago. The new GPS software is pretty darn good and there are more and more hunters using it.”

The innovative software (starting at $40) isn’t only handy for hunters: It also helps keep anglers and floaters from drifting into private property. It’s simple to install, easy to use, and keeps you on the right side of the line. That’s a good place to be.

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