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|EDUCATION: Bachelors of Political Science from Iowa State University||BLOG: My Blog|
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“Well, will you look at that.” The DNR officer glued to the iPad pointing out a group of about 40 deer grazing just over the fence line from the wildlife management area, as I flew the drone skimming over the treetops into the clearing.
“Had a buddy that couldn’t find a deer all season. Think I’ll take a picture for him.”
“How close can you get to them?”
“Cows will stand their ground; our bulls will even attack the drone, but deer are more skittish”,
Flying within 25 feet of the herd, deer are less afraid of the drone than of humans. At 20 feet the deer perk their heads up and I snap the picture, then rocket the drone skyward before they decide to bolt
The DNR Officer had pulled up as I was beginning to launch the drone to scout the Burr Wildlife Management Area. Law enforcement always makes me a bit skittish with drones. Several states have laws against harassing and scouting wildlife with drones, fines can be as high as $25,000. Looking at the area from 400ft it seemed crazy that hunters could be banned for using drones to scout areas for hunting. The purpose of the flight was to gauge the hunting safety of the area, 700 acres in the heart of Iowa Crop ground, with a paved road running right down the middle of the management area.
Thankfully the two farmsteads that butted up against the area were built to overlook the valley, while the road was built into the valley using the Ha Ha method, recessed slightly into the hill for clear lines of sight. After scouting about 30 WMA areas in the past couple of years, you start to appreciate the effort the DNR and DOT takes to ensure a safe area for hunting. The only thing worse than not taking a shot on a big buck because you're concerned about safety is taking it and causing harm or damage.
Safety should always be at the forefront of your mind, check unknown ground for firing lines. The drone is great for looking across rivers, hills and tree lines for houses or campsites. Scouting is a vital part of hunting, using a drone to get to know the land is a great time saver, but if asked why I use one I will always talk about it being a lifesaver first.