Air Whitetails

The Ford Ranch in Melvin, Texas spans 32,000 acres of Hill Country brush. Here, average spreads on mature bucks measure 17 to 18 inches and field-dress at 108 pounds. With a buck-to-doe ratio of one buck for every two does, rutting activity is tremendous as is the trophy potential. Each year, before deer season begins, Ford Ranch manager Forrest Armke takes to the skies to inventory the bucks on the 50-square-mile ranch. Here are just some of his photos. Remarkably, each season, some of the biggest bucks in Armke's photos are never seen by hunters during the open season.

When you manage a Texas hunting ranch, taking inventory starts with climbing into a chopper with your camera.