A hunter draws down on an elk

Big game hunters in Colorado can get an early start from the comfort of their homes. By going online to the Colorado Hunting Atlas, a special feature on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, hunters can do some virtual scouting of areas they want to hunt.

Utilizing geographic information systems technology, the website provides a huge amount of data useful to hunters including details about travel routes in national forests and on BLM lands, topographic information, big game migration routes, campgrounds, state wildlife areas, Parks and Wildlife offices and facilities, and more.

Hunters can zoom in on specific areas and print customized maps for any area in the state. You can even enter GPS coordinates for a specialized view of an area of interest.

The website allows hunters to look at topographic data and then switch to Google-photographs of the same area to get a sense of forest cover and what the ground actually looks like.

Hunters can also create their own “Hunter Resource Report” that includes a map, directions, contact information for various agencies, phone numbers and more. The report is also a good document to be left with family or friends at home so they know exactly where you’re going during hunting season.

To locate this feature go to cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/PlanYourHunt.aspx, and then to the “Colorado Hunting Atlas” link on the right side of the page.

Elsewhere on the website, hunters can also find harvest statistics, big-game population estimates and license draw and preference point information.

Another feature is “Elk Hunting University” which provides extensive hunting tips helpful to all hunters, no matter their skill level: cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/EHU.aspx.

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