Create Topo Map for Pre-season Scouting

Today I want to show you how I create topographic maps from google earth to use in my pre-season and early season scouting. Have you ever been exploring a property on google maps trying to get a handle on what the topography is doing? I really find it useful to create these really simple maps to better understand the terrain, where the deer might be traveling and where they might be bedding down. If you locate these spots, you can then further investigate by getting in the area with a trail camera.

So first I want to show you the really fast way for those of you with some 3d modeling experience. And then I going to show you more in depth with more detail. Open a new sketchup file. Delete this man. Choose the add location icon. Search for your location. I’m just going to zoom in here to some area in North Georgia. Well say over, over here. It’s got a little water on it.

Alright, then we will do select region. You can then drag these to increase the coverage area. Or decrease. I guess this is the increase you would zoom in to increase that. Hit grab. Wait for a little while for this to populate your sketchup model. It comes in in 2 dimensions you want to click this toggle terrain. It changes the google map to a 3d map. So now you go to your camera view standard view top.

Zoom extents. and clicking your rectangle you want to highlight the entire area. So you have a rectangular cross-section through. Create these into a group. Now you can copy. You can copy these up to your desired contour setting. I’m going to do 20 feet, because these are pretty steep contours. Once you enter that once type 200x and it will duplicate that move 200 times.

You can do the same thing for the bottom because we still have a little bit of area exposed here. So we will select this bottom one and copy it down as well. 20 feet. 50x. So now we have all these slicing through our model. So we select everything and right click and say intersect faces with model. Give that time to think.

Now go in and touch just the corner of these, so you can delete out these rectangles we created without deleting the map behind it. I like to turn my style to just show the edges. Now you can see you’ve go topo lines overlaying the top of the google map image.

You can turn this map off by unlocking and hiding. Now you can see that you’ve got topo lines so you can study where the valleys are running through. What might areas might be steeper than others, you’ve got some increased steepness here, whereas up top here you’ve got a more gradual area. It just allows you to study the space a bit more get a bit more detail a little bit more understanding of what’s going on.

If you want to turn this into a surface, you can select everything. Go to draw, sandbox, from contours. So now you have a surface from this that represents your terrain. So now I will show you in a little bit more detail and a little bit slower pace on how we make this happen. So we will create a new file. We hit sketchup Start using sketchup. And that will open a new document for us.

In the styles menu here we can turn profiles, extensions, endpoints off and just keep edges visible. These are different features that you can change. If you click edges you will be able to just have that visible. Delete the dude. You will be able to start this.

If you are missing some of these icons, go to view, customize toolbar. And you will see all these icons you can click any of these like toggle terrain click and drag it up into your menu there. So we’re done there.

So to start we’ll do add location, once this window comes up you can type in your location. Put Georgia. Zoom out to help you find where you want to go a little bit better.

We’ll just go up here to the chattahoochee National forest. Let’s say you hunt this area. You click select region. Then you can grab these to focus in on a certain area. Let’s say you just want this ridge here. You can grab that.

Now to switch between this view and to be able to pan around and orbit you press O. Changes to orbit, H to Pan, which is the hand. So O, H. So you can see it’s flat, so we want to go to our toggle terrain button. Click that and it instantly makes it 3dimensional. Now this might be enough for you.

Just to be able to figure out what’s going on, you might not really need the topo but what happens when you actually export this or print it in 2d view where you might want to have a map of this when you’re out hunting. You’re not going to be able to tell well what’s going on as you would if you had the actual topo lines. So like to go to camera, standard view, top. And then zoom extents is the glass with the arrows off to the side. Then back up just a little bit more.

Then use the rectangle tool. Select a rectangle bigger than the space. You click and drag. Don’t stop here because you can see it is actually switching to the perspective of the, it’s snapping to your map. You want to drag past your map, so it’s flat. Then let go. It always puts it on zero if you started out here, it puts it on the z direction of zero.

So you want to double click this. So highlight everything. Right click while you are on it and say make group. Now you can orbit down to where you can have a little bit more perspective of what’s going on.

If you want to you can take this and go ahead and drag it to the blue axis. You can see that when I click it snaps to the blue axis down here. So you can drag it down past your map and then on a macintosh you hit option, which creates that little plus sign. And you drag it up along the blue axis. Now you can go ahead and just push it past how ever far you want to set these topo lines to. Just for speed sake, I’m going to set each one to 50 feet. So you type that in once you start to move it. And you press enter.

It puts in the first one and then to replicate that move you put in 200x and it copies it up 200 times. So if you did 50x it would copy it up 50 times. So obviously I did too many of these, so I’m going to delete those. I’m going to select everything. Right click. Intersect faces with model.

Once that gets off the highlighted blue, you will be able to come into here, select just the corner, delete. Now you can see you’ve got your model with topography lines on it. So this comes in handy when you’re in the top view and you turn this perspective off. Now you’ve got a topographic map of your hunting location.

To see it a little bit clearer you can unlock the google map behind and do edit. Hide. Now you can see just the topo lines. If you select everything, click draw, sandbox, from contours.

So now you have your terrain mesh, which you can pan around and figure out where the best spots are for you to focus on this season.

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