Historical Imagery and the importance of changing landscapes

Photo credit: Brady Miller

One of the most interesting things I find while out hunting is how much the landscape changes every year. I’ve been fortunate to hunt a variety of landscapes over multiple years and have witnessed some pretty crazy changes, from large wildfires in the desert to avalanches in the high country.

All of these changes in the landscape have the potential to change and influence wildlife behavior. We’ve already covered what wildfires can do and their benefits in other articles. What I’d like to showcase is how you can use our new Historical Imagery tool on GOHUNT Maps to help identify avalanches and possibly put a plan in place to use them to your advantage.

Avalanches over the winter months can act similarly to wildfires in that they clear the landscape of old mature vegetation and allow new, young plants to grow. Those new plants are often grasses, flowers, and small shrubs — all plants that deer and elk will key in on. However, just like wildfire, it’s important to know how old or new those slides are as they do have a time stamp on them to a degree. And this is where Historical Imagery comes into play. Unlike wildfires, avalanches aren’t monitored and mapped closely by government agencies with a timestamp and outline. You have to really look for them and study them to get the most out of them. Below I’ll show some examples and ways that I go about finding them.

Our Terrain Analysis tool is a great place to start. I set the elevation for the areas I’ll be hunting and the steepest two slope degrees to give myself an area where they are most likely to happen.

From there, I just start searching. In the screenshot below, you’ll notice that there was an avalanche that created great edge habitat shown in 2022, but that was not there in 2018. 

In the 2018 image below, you'll notice that avalanche wasn't there.

As I mentioned above, it is crazy to see how much the landscape can change over winter, especially a high snowpack winter like much of the West had this last year. Historical Imagery is another tool you can put in your toolbox to help plan and prepare for your upcoming season. Go check it out, make it your own, and put it to use. Good luck this season!

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