Topographic maps give a bird's-eye view of the land. They show the following:
- A graphic representation of the Earth's surface.
- Land as seen from above.
- Detailed information concerning water, vegetation and man-made features of an area.
- Contour lines.
Most maps are oriented so that the top of the map is the "True North" direction. When calculating a bearing, remember that your compass points to "magnetic north". Use the legend on the map to find out how to compensate for declination. The legend will also contain a scale to indicate the proper distance. For instance, on a scale of 1:10 000, one centimetre between two points on the map equals one hundred meters between those two points on land.
Contour lines give a hunter important information about ground elevation, including how steep the ground is. You read this information in order to travel safely when hunting in the woods. A contour line is a continuous line of the same elevation (or height) around the edge of a feature. For example, contour lines close together signify a steep slope. Contour lines farther apart, signify a gently rising slope.