By Doug Leier
The old parental response of “the journey is half the fun” to kids wondering “are we there yet” fits for hunting as well. Even just the scouting can make for memories.
Most can think of a few stories where finding a place to hunt at times can be as much a part of the story as shooting a duck, buck or rooster.
For those who would prefer advance scouting, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen Guide for 2021 is available online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, free printed PLOTS guides are available at most license vendors and other locations throughout the state.
The guide features nearly 800,000 PLOTS acres. Because the guide was printed in mid-August, some PLOTS tracts highlighted in the guide may have been removed from the program since the time of printing. There will also be some PLOTS tracts where the habitat and condition of the tract will have changed significantly. Conversely, Game and Fish may have added new tracts to the program after the guide went to press.
To minimize possible confusion, Game and Fish will update PLOTS map sheets weekly on its website.
The PLOTS guide features maps highlighting these walk-in areas, identified in the field by inverted triangular yellow signs, as well as other public lands.
The guides are not available to mail, so hunters will have to pick one up at a local vendor or Game and Fish offices, or print individual maps from the website.
Conversely, this year the legislative action creating electronic posting in North Dakota means hunters should take note of the map tools available to identify electronically posted private land before venturing out in the field this fall. Those lands not open to hunting are not found in the PLOTS guide and must be accessed online.
Hunters not comfortable accessing the field with only a cellphone may want to print off maps prior to heading out. If you have a hunting partner or older hunter in the crew, offer to help as we’re all learning how to use new technology.
Brian Hosek, North Dakota Game and Fish Department business operations manager, said map resources, mobile applications and printable maps can be found on the department’s website.
“We do provide a few different tools on our website, and each have different strengths, such as some require cell service while others can work offline, others offer the ability to determine who posted the land or a point of contact,” Hosek said. “And you can still pull down that print material for those who do not prefer to use these technologies.”
ArcGIS Explorer and Avenza are nationally used applications that will show content the Game and Fish Department publishes, Hosek said. In these applications, users will need to search “NDGF” to find content published by the department. The electronic posting information is included in the published PLOTS map services. This information will appear, as well as public lands, including lands enrolled in PLOTS.
Hunters should note that electronically posted lands are identified in orange crosshatch when using these mapping tools.
OnX Hunt, another nationally used hunting application, has indicated they will include electronically posted land for the 2021 hunting season.
“OnX is an app that many hunters subscribe to and have purchased. It’s another mapping tool that offers many great features, such as collecting, sharing waypoints and the ability to work offline,” Hosek said. “Hunters have the option to redeem a free three-month subscription located in the Inbox of My Account on our website. This subscription can be redeemed at any time prior to the end of the year.”
Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.
Featured Photo: While PLOTS lands haven’t changed much in the past year, those areas shown as off limits to hunters are now part of the program’s printed and online guides.