Category: Deer capture

Catching deer from a helicopter: a case study

Shaun Izatt at Wild Venison Helicopters recently decided to extend his services and offer live deer capture. He needed the right equipment and chose an Ace  breakaway net gun set. This side of Shaun’s business is the perfect illustration of what this unit offers for catching deer from a helicopter. You can see Shaun piloting in the video below, and read on to get more detail about how Wild Venison Helicopters uses the Ace breakaway unit.

Introducing our customer

Here’s a bit more about Shaun: first up, he usually goes by the handle Dingo so, as you might guess, he’s originally from Australia. Dingo’s been chasing deer from a helicopter since the 80s, in several different countries, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about decent capture equipment.

Why Ace Capture?

Dingo’s experience with Ace Capture net guns started when he noticed a growing demand for live deer in Southland, NZ. Farmers there have recently started building herds from scratch. The most cost-effective way to do this is by catching wild deer from a helicopter. When Dingo saw the demand, he decided to shift some of his venison business over to live capture. And of course, that meant investing in a net gun.

When we asked Dingo why he decided to come to Ace Capture, he said he’d asked around and “Nelson (Collie, Ace Capture’s owner) is a pretty pedantic guy. I heard he made a good net gun”. Which (trust us) is high praise in this part of the world.

Why the Ace Breakaway Net Gun?

Like many of our customers, Dingo started his purchase with a consult. Nelson assessed his needs and recommended the breakaway unit. When catching deer from a helicopter, the breakaway unit is fast and efficient to reload. This means more deer can be captured per hour of flight time.

How does it work? Unlike our other net guns, the barrel sets and the canister on the breakaway unit both separate from the gun. The unit also comes with multiples of each, as well as multiple nets.

Ace Capture breakaway net gun with three barrel/canister/net sets
Breakaway net gun with three barrel/canister sets

Because canisters are separate from the net gun, ground crew can pack them with nets while a helicopter is out on a run. This means multiple reloads are available for every run, with no downtime.

The barrel sets on the breakaway unit are also removable. This allows crew to place a repacked canister onto a barrel set and position the net weights, well before the net gun needs to be reloaded. This reduces reload times from around 30 seconds to around 5 seconds.

The breakaway net gun’s speedy, multiple reloads ultimately mean more runs per day, more deer netted per run, and better returns.

Efficient shooting with a breakaway net gun set

As a helicopter pilot, Dingo typically works with two shooters, a transport truck and a couple of ground staff. His capture system is a breakaway net gun, three barrel sets and six canisters and nets. This set-up allows him to get the most out of each run.

First, the team establishes a base and parks the truck. Then Dingo takes the chopper out with one shooter, one net gun and three pre-packed canister/barrel sets. When the shooter nets a deer, Dingo drops him or her in the field to secure and tie it. He then heads back to the truck, drops off spent canisters for re-packing and picks up the waiting second shooter.

Once the second shooter nets a deer, Dingo drops him or her to secure it and heads back to the first shooter. The first shooter ties his or her deer to a winch under the helicopter and Dingo takes it back to base. There, support staff untangle it and hand over re-packed canisters ready to go on barrel sets. .

Dingo then flies out to the second shooter and picks up the secured deer, leaving the shooter in the field. Dingo drops the deer at the truck, collects repacked canister/barrel sets and flies back to pick up the first shooter for another run.

Once the first shooter gets a third deer, he or she is dropped to secure it. Dingo then flies back to the second shooter and flies him or her to get a fourth deer. When the second shooter gets dropped to secure the fourth deer Dingo heads over the first shooter, picks up the third deer and flies back to the truck to drop the deer and collect repacked canisters.

This leap-frog cycle continues for the agreed flight duration. Then, if everyone has done everything right, there’s a truckload of hinds ready to deliver to a waiting farmer.

And the verdict?

Dingo has used the breakaway gun on several occasions and rates it. “They’re a big investment, so they have to work. I’ve found it’s reliable, well made and just a good-looking gun – no rough edges. It does a fantastic job.”

For a free consult on your deer capture options, get in touch.

And if you’re based in Southland, New Zealand, Wild Venison Helicopters can net you a whole herd.

Choosing the right net gun for deer capture

Choosing the right net gun for deer capture

Net guns are a versatile tool for capturing animals of all kinds, but not every net gun is right for every creature and every situation. A lot of our customers are looking to catch deer. If that’s you, there are some things you should look out for.

Gun Quality

The first thing to think about is whether your chosen net gun is rated for the size and strength of the animal you want to catch. For something as large as a deer, you need a robust and reliable unit with a reasonable range. Smaller net guns powered by compressed air are not suitable.

Net type

The next thing to consider is the net. It needs to be strong enough to contain a panicked deer. It also needs to have a wide enough mesh to entangle the animal and prevent it from moving. We consider both elements when putting a net gun order together.

Capture situation

Another important factor is the situation the net gun will be used in. Helicopters are often used for deer capture – in New Zealand, net guns were developed for this type of work. However, deer capture using a net gun without a helicopter can also be very effective with the right unit.

Helicopter capture

One of the most common ways to capture deer and other fast-moving herd animals is to follow them in a helicopter, use a net gun to fire a net over them, and then use the helicopter to pick them up.

A hand-held net gun is a good fit for this type of work because it’s designed for easy targeting. It’s also compact enough to use comfortably from a small cockpit. Many hand-held net guns can be used for helicopter capture. However, the Ace breakaway net gun is the unit we recommend because we designed it specifically for greater efficiency. This unit reloads in seconds, so you’re always ready to take a shot. This helps you increase the number of deer caught per flight hour which reduces your time in the air and improves your return on investment.

If you’re a dedicated solo operator, we usually recommend a high-powered skid-mounted net gun that fires from a helicopter joystick. We designed this unit for specialists who fly alone and don’t have a shooter who can use a hand-held net gun.

Capture on the ground

Many of our customers don’t have access to a helicopter, or they need to capture a specific individual deer. If that’s you, you can do very well with a suspended net gun. It simply hangs on a rope strung between two trees or poles. The net can be fired by any deer when it takes a nibble at a baited trigger. Alternatively, individual deer within a herd can be targeted by a hidden operator, using manual or radio-controlled firing. Because the net in a suspended unit is large and only has to travel two or three meters, it’s ideal for ensuring you get a catch every time you fire.

One specific advantage offered by a suspended net gun is the ability to capture deer at a distance. Our customers often find they get a good result by finding an observation spot that allows them to see the unit with binoculars and fire it remotely. Because they’re a long way from the net gun, the deer can’t be spooked by a human presence. One of our customers delivers veterinary treatment to deer and this is his preferred method of making sure he captures the right animal.

Regardless of your situation, if you’re capturing deer a net gun is likely to be a useful tool. If you let us know your specific situation, we’d be delighted to discuss some options that might suit your needs.