Estimating the number of deer on your property is premium information for any deer manager. However, regardless of the type of census survey you use, some type of bias does exist. With this in mind, all surveys provide population trend data and some provide more precise data than others.
Today, we are going to talk about some of the pros and cons of performing aerial surveys for deer. In most cases when conducting aerial surveys for deer, helicopter will be used over airplanes (fixed-wing). With that said, helicopter and fixed-wing surveys allow the landowner and deer manager to determine the following:
1. Estimate the buck to doe ratio
2. Estimate fawn production
3. Examine antler development of bucks
4. Determine the distribution of deer on ranch
5. Examine the habitat condition of ranch
6. Determine the location of specific deer for harvest
Of course, the biggest drawback to a helicopter census is the cost. Increase costs in fuel, liability insurance and general maintenance, are passed on to the consumer — and that’s you. In addition, costs will also vary between operators, so look around before hiring someone to count deer on your coin.
The main benefit of a helicopter survey is that it is a time saving measure for landowners or managers that do not have the time to conduct spotlight surveys and herd composition counts.