New app to help hunters in the field

Hunters plying Oregon's travel-management areas and other access areas can now use their smartphones or tablets to access real-time maps in the field when a "you are here" designation can spell the difference between legal hunting and trespassing.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has now enabled their maps of places like the Jackson County Travel Management Area, as well as Access and Habitat Program Areas, to be viewed through GEO-PDF applications.

The technology allows hunters and others to closely follow their location in the field, mark waypoints and determine whether they are on public or private property within these areas.

It can also tell you where your pickup's parked, how far away it is and show you how to get back there.

"We're always looking to make things easier for hunters in the field," says Michelle Dennehy, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

Depending on which maps you use, the app also could help nonhunters such as mushroom hunters who need to know whether they are on private land, federal Bureau of Land Management property or Forest Service lands, which have differing regulations for collecting mushrooms.

Users must first download one of several applications that read the GEO-PDF maps. At least two of the applications —  Avenza and Terrago — are free.

Once the application is in your phone or tablet, find maps of the areas you will be visiting at www.odfw.com/maps or via www.oregonhuntingmap.com.

The application will read the map, and you're in business.

"It's really kind of slick," says David Lane, the ODFW's outreach and promotions coordinator.

While the maps have all the ownership patterns, they don't have topography, Lane says.

"People will probably find these maps most useful when married with another map," Lane says.

Travel-management areas such as JACTMA have a system of open arterial roads, with spur roads subject to seasonal closures to improve use of wildlife habitat and for better hunting experiences. JACTMA covers about 54,000 acres in Jackson County.

Not all ODFW maps are in the system, Dennehy says.

However, Lane says the agency plans to generate useable PDFs of the state's wildlife management units and other maps for use through this technology.

Casting clinics to teach the "double haul"

The Monday evening fly-casting classes conducted by members of the Rogue FlyFishers Association at Hedrick Middle School in Medford will have a certain steelheaders' taste to them Sept. 22 and 29.

Club members will be teaching the "double haul" cast that is preferred by many Rogue River steelhead anglers and is a must for those punching through Pacific winds when casting for salmon in coastal estuaries.

The classes are free and open to the public. They run from 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays at Hedrick, 1501 E. Jackson St.

The double haul is a casting technique that adds power to your false casts and can reduce the amount of "air time," or the amount of time and the number of false casts it make longer casts.

By pulling line down with your reel hand while casting backwards, the double haul loads the rod heavier and allows you to shoot line into your back cast before a similar tug generates greater line speed in the forecast.

It's considered necessary to cast heavier flies for salmon or steelhead, particularly in winds. And reducing the amount of false casts theoretically will help fly-fishers catch more fish because their flies spend more time on or in the water than in the air.

Vernal pool seed-sowing project

The Oregon Department of Transportation and The Nature Conservancy are teaming up to spread native seed in newly restored vernal pools near the Table Rocks, and they're looking for volunteers.

The project will run from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Kincaid property mound site on the Whetstone Savanna. Volunteers will learn about the diverse life of this unique habitat while collecting and spreading native seed materials. The site shelters mounded prairie and vernal pool communities that include rare plants and fairy shrimp and safeguard a key portion of oak savanna habitat on the Rogue Valley floor.

To register, call TNC's Molly Morison at 541-770-7933, ext. 2#, or email sworegon@tnc.org.

Families are welcome. Snacks, gloves and tools will be provided.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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