I've been using Google Maps, as a pre-hunt scouting tool for many years. If you know what you are looking for, Google Maps can save a lot of random driving, and blind scouting. At todays gas prices, any help I can get narrowing things down to a specific hunt area, is a good thing.
I was planning a prairie dog hunt up to Wyoming this year, but it's a long haul, and this summers gas prices, along the Interstate highways, will probably be close to $5.00 a gallon, if not more, so I've decided to head over to New Mexico, and see what I can do there.
Like Northern Arizona, New Mexico has populations of prairie dogs. They seem to be more widely spread across New Mexico, than here in Arizona, so with a hunt in mind, I fired up Google Maps and started to do some scouting. The first thing I did, was to locate a known to be active, dog town on one of the ranches I hunt here in Arizona, and use Google Maps to get a look at what an active dog town looks like, from a satellite's point view.
Here's a picture of a prairie dog mound, up close and personal. This picture has been cropped, but if seen from above, this mound would look to be about fifteen, or so feet across. Now put one of these every 100 to 200 feet across the landscape, in every direction, and you end up with what is commonly called a prairie dog town. Some will be small, maybe an acre or so, and some will cover thousands of acres.
Prairie dog mound on a ranch I hunt here in AZ.
Here's a satellite view of a small portion of the dog town, that the above mound is in, that covers thousands of acres. This is on a cattle ranch, and the ranch owner isn't real happy to have these guys on his property. Especially in these numbers.
All of those little dots are prairie dog mounds. Now that I know what an active dog town looks like from a satellite view, I headed on over to New Mexico, and started spending time on the computer, looking for likely areas to hunt.
I picked up a map of New Mexico, that shows public, and private land ownership, and went to work. It took a bit of effort, but I have located some nice sized prairie dog towns on public land over there. Here's a satellite view of a small area in one of the towns I've found so far.
Using Google Maps, I have located a half dozen dog towns on public land, in about a 100 square mile area, so instead of blindly searching for an area that holds prairie dog towns, I'll head straight to the areas I've pre-scouted using Google Maps, and have a look see. Should be a ton of fun.
I'll be hunting my AA 510 TC .22, and my Marauder .25.
I've also used Google Maps to successfully scout for tree squirrel and cottontail rabbit habitats. Nothing guarantees a successful hunt, but I'm a big believer in using Google Maps to try and stack the deck in my favor.