https://i0.wp.com/cdn0.wideopenspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Duck-Hunter-Drone.jpg?w=525With the increasing availability of unmanned aerial craft equipped with cameras, the possibilities for improving the documentation of outdoor activities has radically increased.

In Idaho, a recent statute prohibits using drones to assist in hunting, including birds: It is unlawful to “Make use of aircraft, including any unmanned aircraft system, in any manner to spot or locate game animals, game birds or furbearing animals of this state from the air and communicate the location or approximate location thereof by any signals whatsoever, whether radio, visual or otherwise, to any person then on the ground” (36.11.3).

As most of you know, we enjoy capturing our hunting experiences in still and video images and like to share them. I’d love to have a drone to add to the kinds of shots we get; an overhead moving image of our dogs honing in to point birds on the edge of Hells Canyon excites me. I’m curious to know others’ thoughts about this, and plan to talk to our local Fish and Game officer soon to get his take. The way I read the statute, if we used a drone, we wouldn’t be in violation because we wouldn’t (couldn’t is more like it: there’s no way a drone can do a better job locating chukar than our dogs do). Anyway, I’m curious to know readers’ thought about this.


12 Replies to “Drones”

  1. Hi Bob, I would love to see some drone footage of your hunts if this proves to be legal. I believe the majestic terrain features of the Snake River canyon would lend itself to some breath taking filmography. Also, sine this is somewhat on topic, I could personally benefit from ShotKam footage. Yes, I understand that this would be somewhat graphic and perhaps not for everyone, but from a sharing of information and instructional point of view, nothing beats ShotKam ( TM ) for a teachable moment as to what the lead would look like for successful shots on Chukar

  2. It would be interesting to see what footage you and Leslie could come up with. But it is a slippery slope. You might not use your drone for nefarious purposes, but there are many out there who would I am sure. Like trying to flush birds up out of reach in cliffs, droning after a flushed flock to try to follow and mark the location, using a “hawk drone” to keep birds holding on the ground. Perhaps even mounting an infrared camera on the drone to search for birds. Perhaps some heat seeking drone-to-chukar missles? Here I have come up with several possible foul plays, and I had never even thought about it before.

    Personally, I would rather not see and hear drones in the air when I am afield.

  3. It’s the last thing I want to encounter on public land. I have no doubt you would use it responsibly but as larry mentioned, others will screw it up.

  4. 100% against all drone use on public land (minus wildfire fighting, search and rescue, or law enforcement). While the footage would be stellar others would abuse the privilege.

  5. Bob, I echo the thoughts of the previous replies. But, would there be harm or law broken if a drone was used for photography/video purposes pre or post season (without firearms present)? You could still get some great footage of dog work, pointing and birds flushing

    1. Thanks for your comment, Matt. I’ve always dreamed about making a chukar hunting film that could capture the magic of the experience, and maybe pre- or post-season footage from above would help. The more I think about it, though, the more having a professional film crew take care of that makes sense. Then it becomes a question of money. And fitness (for the film crew).

  6. Anyone who thinks you can see birds from a drone has no idea where the technology currently resides. First, you’d have to nearly be on top of them like within 5-10 feet or so. Only the most expensive commercial grade drones have cameras capable of zoom, the cameras on everything else are fixed focal and typically wide angle and only the more expensive hobby drones have high enough resolution to be able to pick up something the size of a bird from more than 5 or 10 feet away. Last time I checked birds had the ability to conceal themselves to the point where we need dogs to find them.

    If you haven’t figured it out I own a drone. A pretty expensive one at that. I’ve taken some video and can tell you that with the current technology you simply aren’t going to fly over an area at any sort of speed and be able to see birds to help you hunt them. Also you aren’t going to put Thermal on a hobby drone and use it to help you hunt. All you have to do is look up how much a thermal camera costs and look at the size to know it’s a pretty crazy idea and not likely to occur for a long time. The economics are just not there yet for a hobbyist to have access to. If it was, again you’d still have the problem of seeing anything.

    I’ve taken video footage over my son’s lacrosse and football practices. At 25-30 feet you can obviously make out people size objects well but a small lacrosse ball or larger football dissapears into the background really fast. That’s on contrasting canvas; think white ball on green grass. 25-30 feet might seem pretty far away but it’s actually pretty tough to keep it that low while moving. Yes they have software to track objects and fly closer to them but those won’t help you hug the terrain while flying only track someone. You’re more or less going to have to have reached expert level drone pilot status to roll along and fly low enough to pick out a bird that’s likely to be hiding because the drone is loud. At least anything with enough size to do an adequate job is. Even the most portable drones are still loud. Viewing screens to see what the drone is seeing are small. You geezers are kidding yourself if you think you are going to look at a tiny screen and see a bird from high up on crappy resolution. Ha!!! That’s if you can even figure out how to turn any of it on. You just don’t see a lot of tech nerds out hunting. That’s another thing, while the camera takes good quality onboard footage, it doesn’t transmit well to the portable viewing screen with enough detail.

    The hawk thing…. I’m not sure about. I’ve flown over doves in and around my house as well as ducks and geese on a pond nearby. They didn’t seem to respond how I thought. I expected them to hold but they didn’t. A friend I know is a master falconer currently has a perigrine and has had other hawks. He’s told me that often times ducks and other game birds won’t even fly till he goes over and kicks them up. He’s said on occasion he’s been able to grab a bird because they are so scared of the falcon above. Not happing with the drone. They just fly off away from the noisy white thing that they don’t recognize as a hawk because it looks nothing like one.

    I have not used my drone to try and capture hunting footage. I’ll admit I’ve thought about it though. The aerial perspective of the dogs working and being able to capture the cinematic scene would be cool. It would take a fair amount of effort besides the fact that it may not legal. Lastly, but most importantly I’d rather be hunting than filming. Ha!!!!

    By the way there are videos out there where you can see bird hunting and like I said, you can barely see the birds flying in the sky let alone on the ground.

    Here’s a quick vid I shot day two of having the drone to give you some perspective. Be sure to adjust from the resolution if you have a good internet connection and best to pause and let it load.


Chirp away

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: