I like Swamplife's predictions for stand sites. If I'd had to put dots on a map, I probably would have put them in similar spots. In fact, I'd thought about going that route, but didn't. Part of it was I didn't have the time yesterday to download the pic, and part of it is that I've been wrong enough over the years that I tend to be conservative. I also come out of a time when deer were not all that plentiful, and the theory of where deer should be was often clouded by the fact that there just weren't enough deer around to hunt.
My feeling is that topo and aerial data are a great aid. They tell you a lot of what you need to know. However, they do not give you the whole picture. It aids scouting, but cannot replace it. I also agree that on featureless flat ground, a topo and aerial may be as useless as tits on a boar hog. I hunted a tree farm years ago that had two contour lines on the whole 40 acres.
I went through this same process when I bought my 200 acre farm. Topozone.com had just started up, and I could get both the satellite and the topo image for free. Pouring over these at night and on my lunch hours, I started putting dots on the map as places of interest. After scouting a couple of weekends, I was ready to place stands. I put out a half dozen stands and had one pay off. I added another just before the Rifle Opener and got a payoff from it as well. 2 of 7 makes a nice batting average, but it also means 5 locations did not pay off. What I found was that some locations were dead wrong, and I've never figured out why they did not pay off. They all had sign. They all had good concealment.
The next year I moved a couple of stands, and added a couple of locations, and it went like that for a couple of years until I have what I have now. I'm still making changes, but I have a core of stand locations that give me good coverage, good variety, and good flexibility. The plan for 2009 bears hardly any resemblance to the one in 2001.
Maps and photos will give you some great data, but there's more too it. As a for instance, I love getting hold of old topo maps. They show old features that may not show up on the newer versions. If you haven't scouted the place, you won't know they're there. If you scout the place and find the feature, you may not understand its significance. Roads and buildings come and go. Ponds fill up. Orchards disappear off the map. They're still there as far as the deer are concerned. In fact, deer can be influenced by features that fell off the map over a human generation ago. If you want an absolute deer-freaking gold mine, find a road that shows up on the 1948 topo and is gone in the 1984 revision. Believe it or not, I've watched one piece of asphalt country road revert back totally over 50 years. It was still recognizable pavement when I was born.
Photos are the same way. Example: if you see a pasture in the 1997 aerial and it is now woods according to the 2004 Google satellite image. You've probably found a fresh thicket of deer bedding habitat that still has tall grass mixed in with the young trees. I happen to know this, because yours truly is starting to see his wildlife biologist's habitat how-to's
show up on Google Earth. It ain't the Great Wall of China, but you can see my home-brew DIY mini-QDM from space.