Best Buck of 2021

Best Buck of 2021

Observing some of those older, larger-racked bucks is important because it verifies older age deer exists.  That is important to landowners when it comes to their continuation of management practices.

Story and photography by Bob Zailgin

The opportunity to survey deer populations on some of the best habitat in the state is truly a privilege.  More importantly, the information obtained benefits both deer and deer habitat.  The aircraft represents a platform to analyze not only population status but also antler quality and fawn survival.    

Each fall I spend a considerable amount of time in a helicopter surveying deer herds, gathering information used to make management decisions.  The helicopter is a tool that allows biologists the opportunity to not just view deer but a substantial number of them, particularly those older bucks supporting the largest racks, go unobserved.  Some practitioners believe that all the deer are accounted for, but that is not the case. 

The percentage of deer missed on preseason surveys can range from 20 percent to, in some instances, 50 percent.  Observation efficiency can be enhanced if aerial surveys are conducted during the first and last two hours of the day when deer are most active, but that’s not always practical.

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