MapCard

I will cut to the chase:  Mapcard is absolutely great.  Buy it for yourself.  Buy for all your buddies for Christmas, New Years, Birthdays or Ground Hogs Day.  Better yet, don't wait for a reason.  Just buy it. 

With the annual base subscription rate of around $35, it is worth every penny.  I met the owner of Mapcard a year or so ago at a trade show and he told me about his new product.  I smiled thinking, "Ya right" there are plenty of ways I can get free maps, "why would I pay for this".  He offered to let me try Mapcard free for a year, but he did NOT know that I wrote product evaluations.  I sort of kept that a secret.  The year was just up, and when I got the "Renew" screen at mapcard.com, it was a no-brainer.  Bang.  Renew.  End of story.

Like most hunters, I have relied on a number of resources for topographical maps, aerial maps and street maps.  Many are free and many I pay for.  I have topo and map books and buy PRIM and topo maps from our state.  I have purchased 24 x 24 inch aerial maps from the United States Geological Survey for my own land and public lands I hunt.  I buy plat books and color photo maps from the forest service, counties, and states, as well as buying maps from companies who sell aerial photos for fairly significant sums. 

Some of the activities for which I needed aerial and topo maps in 2002 alone were:

  • Pre-scout for turkey hunting, Wisconsin
  • Pre-scout for turkey hunting, Kansas
  • Pre-scout for archery deer hunting, Kansas
  • Shop for hunting land around Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • Shop for lakeshore property around Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • Check on rural homes for sale because we are considering a move
  • Check on features of State forfeit lands for purchase
  • Get detail maps for directions to find remote areas that don't have a PO address
I must admit, I was reluctant at first to dive into Mapcard, because I had my book-marked favorites at Terraserver and other internet map sources all set up.  I didn't feel like trying to figure out another map service.  I also had a friend who was given Mapcard to try, and they told me they could not figure out how it worked.  That was actually the impetus that drove me to seriously test drive Mapcard, since I love figuring things out.  Once into the Mapcard program, it was in reality very easy to use, and three hours slipped by as I navigated this new wonderland of the best maps and features I had seen anywhere.  But "Best" is a subjective word, so let me quantify.

I was to go turkey hunting in Wisconsin last spring in an area four hours from home.  I had never been there and had zero time to scout because of work obligations.  I went to TerraServer, zeroed in on the area with the help of a plat map page, and shock:  The USGS map cut off completely about five miles from the area I was supposed to hunt.  I tried several more times thinking I had made a mistake, but there was no map there, or at the other map web sites either.  I really dislike going on a self-guided hunt without being able to either physically scout, or scout using aerial photographs. 

Mapcard to the rescue. 

It took very little time to find the exact farm we were hunting, and to "aerial scout" the property.  The Mapcard maps were also much better quality and more current.  Some of the USGS maps were 15 years old.  I was able to get so close in with the aerials, that I picked various field edges where I thought turkeys would be.  When I arrived in Wisconsin for the hunt, one of those field edges is where I hunted for most of the week, and I saw many turkeys there.

I hunted turkeys and deer in Kansas in 2002 and had similar success using Mapcard.  I also own a tract of land and was able to scout an adjacent parcel of public land since I am considering purchasing it, and wanted to know it's features from a bird's eye view.  We have been looking for lakeshore property too.  We were able to view many properties and save ourselves a lot of travel time by ruling out the undesirables that we found by using Mapcard.  One of the features I like best about Mapcard, is that even the tiniest obscure side roads, nameless dirt roads and backwoods creeks are shown on both the aerial and the land use (line) maps.   You can order large format maps through the Mapcard website as well.

Mapcard lets you print any map, whether topo, aerial or land use maps.  You can file favorite maps for future reference, download maps to your own computer, and easily e-mail maps to others.  Mapcard lets you customize maps with your own freehand notations, symbols, and GPS coordinates.  You can literally plot out a forest full of trails and tree stand locations, and print out a map showing them all.  About the only thing Mapcard can't do is show the deer trails in your area, but I can attest that Mapcard is so detailed that at the 1:6000 range, I could see a 200 yard beaver run that connected a major swamp on my land to a beaver pond.  Amazing.

As I wrote this review, I went to Mapcard to go over all the features and ended up sending Mapcard subscriptions to my hunting buddies for Christmas.  I then got sidetracked for two hours doing some aerial scouting again.  I like to be in control of things, especially when it comes to hunting.  Mapcard is the ticket if you want to find far away areas and check them out, or find your own house and see if you have any loose shingles.  Okay, so the shingles are an exaggeration, but Mapcard does everything it advertises, and much more. 

**** I give it a four star rating.  And you can find the link right on the main page of bowhunting.net, so don't just sit there, got get one.

For a Free test drive of MapCard go to: Bowhunting.MapCard.com