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Studying aerial photos

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I have an aerial photograph of an area that I hunt. I was wondering if I could find some help studying the photo, I do not completely understand deer movements and behavior.

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I would say the next thing you need is a topo map that shows the land elevations. Most topo maps show the swamp areas too. Once you have that you should be able to see on the aerial where the swamps are, the high land is and then natural funnels between areas as well as any crop land and lakes. Deer movement varies based on what is available to eat. Up where I hunt there is no crop lands so we look for new growth areas where deer feed. By us the deer skirt swamps and in some cases bed down in them or very close so we look for higher ground that looks into swamps that has some new growth near by. We hope they walk by on their way to breakfast everyday. Bottom line is find where they sleep and where they eat and pick a spot in between to set up.

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First off, I would suggest you google:

"Air Photo Interpretation"

Understanding the shadows, shapes, and structures of the photo will be key to understanding what's actually on the ground. While it may seem elementary, I've co-taught courses on air photo interp, and it is not always necessarily intuitive.

From there, apply many of the basic needs of the animal. I know more about turkeys, and typically try to relate:

-roosting sites

-feeding areas

-loafing areas

-strut zones

-travel corridors

....among others. For deer, it will be similar. Take past experience in your area, and apply it to the map. Print many copies and mark it up.

A topo map, as suggested above, would be very beneficial. Knowing how the land "sits" will bring your photo to life.


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Aerial photos are an excellent tool and they keep you from going nuts in the off season. I hunted the same land for years adn just recently got an aerial photo of it. It really made the things I was seeing in the woods kind of click into place. I agree about also getting a topo map. If you compare the two and find edges that coincide with changes in elevation it will help pinpoint where deer get funneled or where a nice saddle is between two points of interest. If you haven't been on the land much it also gives you a good place to start looking for sign (ie. fingers, changes in tree type, clear cuts, etc.).

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I do not understand well how deer will move in relationship to the landscape and elevation changes. I do not understand the way that they utilize the land per se. I try to get out and scout, quite a bit. I find alot of sign, I do not know how to interperate it, I always seem to bump deer, and I believe now I am familiar with some of their bedding habits. I have a guess of what it is that they may be feeding on. It seems as though I am stuck in neutral.

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