Results of Spotlight and Helicopter Deer Surveys

Spotlight and helicopter techniques were used during late summer to survey white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in young pine plantations in the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Spotlight sampling rates were 72-183 ha/hour and 1.6-6.8 deer/hour, and helicopter sampling rates were 655-976 ha/hour and 26.4-43.2 deer/hour. Ninety-five percent of deer observed from the helicopter were classified to age-sex classes. During spotlight surveys, 60% of deer were classified when using binoculars and 82% were classified when using a spotting scope. The helicopter method yielded deer indices (ha/deer observed, fawn/doe, buck/doe) that were generally more precise than by spotlight. Estimated survey costs per hectare surveyed, per deer observed, and per deer classified, respectively, averaged $0.56, $13.09, and $19.07 by spotlight and $0.51, $10.91, and $11.51 by helicopter.

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