A few weeks ago, 60 minutes featured a piece on Amazon.  A segment of that story was about the future of delivery using a drone to drop off packages less than 5 pounds.  That story got me thinking about how I could use something like this to scout or see my property at a virtual bird's eye view.

I started doing research online immediately and found a ton of videos.  I shared this new infatuation with my father, who immediately caught the bug.  A couple of weeks ago, he purchased a small drone already outfitted with a camera.  He bought the DJI Phantom Vision, which we flew yesterday and took some video over the 63 acres.  Anyone, I mean anyone, can fly this thing.  I was amazed at how easy it was to fly.  In 5 minutes I was buzzing this thing all over the sky.  Quite fun......See the video link below of the test.

We finished the flight and took the micro SD card out and put it into my laptop.  After looking at the video, I felt it was a success.  Given there was snow on the ground, I felt like this provided good contrast between the trees, brush, and the ground.  I loved how I could see clearly the habitat work that had been completed.  Specific aspects visible were buck beds, the new watering hole, food plots, screening cover, streams, and trails in the snow.  I was amazed at the visible points where the deer had cleared snow on the food plots.  The Main Plot Clover, north section had some decent tracks and areas cleared, while the brassicas on the south side did not (first section of the field we flew over).  I think this helps get an understanding of the topography of a property.  If I was considering buying a new piece of property, I would definitely use this as a tool in addition to simply walking the land.

The video does have a "fish eye" effect.  I understand there is software out there that will take this effect away.  I'll have to work on that aspect of video editing, as I am clearly a novice.

Another aspect that I was disappointed was that it was difficult to pick out deer at 140'.  Maybe they were there and we just couldn't see them.  Maybe the height we flew the unit was part of the problem, but I though we would see deer moving or at least reacting to the sound of the unit.  I didn't really think it was that loud, especially at 140'.  To me, it sounded like a bunch of bees buzzing around a hive.  I'm sure the deer picked this out as an out of place sound, especially at this time of year.  However, I don't believe once it was in the air the deer ran completely off of the property.  My kids were with us and we didn't try to be quiet, but that usually doesn't push deer that far off of the property.  Again, I believe we could have flown it a little lower and may have been able to pick out more details.

In summary, I think we need to make some more flights.  I'd like to try it at different elevations and map out the property better.  We also have to rotate the unit slower in areas we are hovering.  The next time, we will start the flight at the edge of the property and quietly walk in.  Maybe we can see the deer better and pick them out.  We had a blast doing this yesterday and I believe I learned a lot.  If you have the means to try this, I would suggest looking at your property through this lens.  


Mike Heichelbech
01/15/2014 4:02pm

Love the drone flight! Would be interesting to see how much it spooks them and if you could use it for remote field monitoring. What would be really cool is if you program one to automatically take off at a certain time and fly a pre-programmed route!

Phil d
01/19/2014 5:55pm

Great video and your the first I've seen use this technology. Music was a little weak but I can get past that. Just kidding


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