Let the planning begin for the fall! The South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks has released the new 2017 editions of the Public Hunting Atlas and Hunting and Trapping Handbook.

You can pick up paper copies at licensing locations across the state or request one to be sent to you.

I always pick one of each up and keep it in the truck. I also use it to plan where I'm going if it's somewhere new. I also check to make sure that the spots I have gone to in the past are still public. That can change from year to year.

The GFP also has Android and iOS apps that you can download. These are handy in the field, as long as you have internet service. If you don't you are SOL. I can also say that having recently switched to iPhone from Android, the Android version of the app is better. You can toggle the public areas on and off and actually see the map. In the iPhone version you can't and it's hard to see the map. (If I am mistaken and the feature is there, I haven't found it.)

If your phone doesn't work, like mine did not in the Black Hills last year, Garmin GPS versions of the maps are outstanding. Whether it is a hiking type of GPS or like the Nuvi Road Navigation version for a vehicle, you can import the maps into your Garmin. I know, who has a Garmin? I do, and I would prefer a hiking version and will add the maps to it some day. But even in my old Nuvi it's nice to just help me find spots I'm driving to pheasant hunting or trying and failing to chase coyotes.

Andy Erickson
Andy Erickson

I also use the Google Earth layer downloads. You download the .kml file and while you are in the Google Earth program, open that file and it will add all of the various types of public land as layers you can toggle on and off. I really like using this because you can actually see what the land looks like where you are going.

Best thing about all of these maps is they are totally free.

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