A Unique Perspective on Reading Topography

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Reading the terrain is a crucial skill

Correctly reading the terrain, and how deer use it, can help choose stand locations more wisely. (Midwest Whitetail photo)

Sometimes, a subject comes along that really catches my eye. Viewer, Wes Chaffin, sent me a photo and description of how he made a scale model of a topo map in order to better visualize what the lines were telling him. It’s pretty cool.

“I thought you’d get a chuckle from a project I created,” Chaffin said. “My motivation was that the area I hunt has very dense vegetation with small pines, transitioning into heavy timber. I could look at a topo map all day long and could not get the perspective I needed to adjust my stand location. So, I made my own 3D topo map.

Wes Chaffin created a 3D topo map of his property to better understand how deer maneuver it. (Wes Chaffin photo)“I took a regular topo map to an office supply store,” Chaffin continued. “They enlarged a section of the map and made several copies. Using enlarged copies of the map, I cut each elevation out of cardboard and glued them together. Once I pieced it together, I gained a ton of insight on my travel corridors. Scouting this area is problematic due to the heavy undergrowth.

The 3D version revealed a different perspective.

“The landowner had me convinced once I move beyond a certain area of the map, I could push the deer out completely,” Chaffin said. “My pin on the right is the old stand location and one of the left is new. The pin on the right yielded six good deer.

“I know this doesn’t give you a total perspective to my setup, but it helped gain more insight to my scouting,” Chaffin continued. “In fact, the enlarged copies are of value as well. I can draw on them. This really helped me a lot. It helped me understand the deer movement in the area.”

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