Open Range Counting2

a typical digital photograph taken from a helicopter in flight...

a typical digital photograph taken from a helicopter in flight...

Planning and communications

The key to the success, accuracy and efficiency of counts, particularly large counts, is in thorough and detailed planning, along with good communication between all involved. The Risk Assessment should apply to all operators


  • Ensure that an appropriate Risk Assessment has been carried out and recorded where appropriate*.

once enlarged on a computer, the same photograph reveals greater detail: deer can be seen behind others, and calves may be distinguished from hinds...

once enlarged on a computer, the same photograph reveals greater detail: deer can be seen behind others, and calves may be distinguished from hinds...

In addition to carrying out a risk assessment the following checklist should be completed:

  checklist count
    ground helicopter
area area to be counted defined    
woodlands to be cleared identified    
neighbours contacted    
equipment radios & batteries    
notebooks & pencil    
binoculars/ telescopes    
GPS    
digital camera/ batteries    
maps    
health & safety equipment    
staff clearing woodland brief woods to clear    
timings    
radio comm protocol    
health & safety procedures    
counters brief routes to fly/ walk    
which deer to count    
classification to use    
reord to use (nos, age, sex...)    
radio comm protocol    
health & safety procedures    
helicopter pilot brief routes to fly/ walk    
fuel dumps    
flying hours    
military restrictions    
radio comm protocol    
health & safety procedures    

at this point the computer software may help count large groups. Each deer in the group can be marked and a different colour used for every 100 deer counted within the group

at this point the computer software may help count large groups. Each deer in the group can be marked and a different colour used for every 100 deer counted within the group

On the day
Prior to commencing counting obtain an up to date weather forecast for the area.

  • Ensure all team members are equipped with radios operating on a dedicated channel.
  • Agree protocols for radio procedures with the pilot, co-ordinator and wood clearance teams before the start of any count. Send, receive and acknowledge are essential steps. In addition team members should be clear on:
    • Definition of terms to be used
    • Methods of relaying
    • Channel allocation
  • Immediately after the count:
    • hold a ‘de-briefing’ with all involved to determine any potential double counting or areas missed.
    • Collect all maps, notebooks, digital images, gps routes to collate data on numbers and locations of all deer sighted and all routes walked or flown.

a typical count result involves the location of digital photograph (no25 here). Red dots signify a visual count, gold squares a digital recording...

a typical count result involves the location of digital photograph (no25 here). Red dots signify a visual count, gold squares a digital recording...

After the count
It is essential to make most use of the information collected. As well as reporting on the number of deer counted the following should be reported on:

...and this is plotted back onto the form to give an accurate analysis

...and this is plotted back onto the form to give an accurate analysis

 

  • Area counted
  • Deer densities (areas unavailable to deer - fenced / water)
  • Map of deer counted and area covered
  • Costs (man-hours, £)
  • Weaknesses / limitations:
    • Planning
    • Area counted / woodlands cleared
    • Weather / ground conditions
    • Observer ability to spot / count / classify / record
    • Digital image quality
    • Deer behaviour and movement
  • What could be done better?

What next?

  • Disseminate results to neighbours / DMG / SNH**
  • Use count to inform deer management in terms of:
    • Population size
    • Sex ratio
    • Likely impact on habitats

Key to symbols

  • This symbol highlights a legal requirement. It is an offence not to comply.
  • This symbol highlights an action or task required in order to safeguard public safety, food safety and animal welfare.  
  • This symbol highlights an action or task required in order to carry out the task effectively.

see further key to these symbols