There’s nothing more rewarding to a management-oriented landowner than to see what progress has been made on their property.

Story and photography by Bob Zaiglin

Summertime is the calm before the storm for white-tailed deer, particularly in the brush country of South Texas.  Upon the arrival of fall, the quiescence of the Rio Grande plains is interrupted by the whirring of helicopters as biologists survey deer populations.  Like dragonflies flittering back and forth just off the surface of a stock tank, helicopters occupied by several observers transect the region from above in order to acquire information on the deer population.

Additional techniques are employed to estimate deer populations, but aerial surveys employing a helicopter remains as one of the most popular methods of obtaining deer population data required to develop harvest recommendations.  But like all survey techniques, it has some inadequacies, but its advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

At one time wildlife managers assumed that all deer on a particular property were accounted for when utilizing a helicopter, but that doesn’t occur.  It’s impossible to see all the deer from the air because some, particularly those older bucks, refuse to move and in some cases, the vegetation is extremely dense, affording deer even more protection from above.

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