Collecting shed elk and deer antlers sends him hiking the great outdoors; it’s good exercise, and can even generate a few bucks from people seeking home and garden decor. Knowing my passion for flight, he asked about scouting his favorite shed-hunting area from the air.
“Of course you’d have to keep the location secret,” he added. Whether gathering blueberries, mushrooms, or antlers, nobody wants to reveal their private motherlode.
My first reaction was, “Sure!” Like most pilots, I thrill to exploring Earth from above. Jean and I often note back roads to drive, and countless of our passengers have scouted sites pertaining to their own favorite diversions—mountain biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and wilderness camping.
Obviously, identifying even the largest antlers from the air would be impossible, so I asked for details. It turned out my friend’s interest was not in spotting antlers per se, nor even animals. Rather he sought the lay of the land: identifying established back roads, hiking-access points, and wildlife trails and water sources where shedding animals might congregate. All these could be assessed with binoculars from a prudent altitude.
This fellow knew as little about aviation as I do about antlers, so he asked the legalities of aerial spotting. Obviously, FAA regulations define minimum flight altitudes in given environments, and we’d need to avoid charted conservation areas.
Upon investigating wildlife conservation rules, however, I learned that my friend’s seemingly benign mission was more complicated than it sounded…
**Read Greg’s entire column, “SWORN TO SECRECY“**
Photo: Bull elk, near Flagstaff, Arizona.
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2018 Gregory N. Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!