Best Drones for Hunting: Level Up Your Scouting Game
Drone technology has changed the way people see the world. Their flying optic capability has revolutionized photography, scouting, fishing, and now hunting. That’s right, using drones to hunt deer and wild game gives hunters a huge leg up when trying to stalk their prey. While hunting is considered different than fishing, drones are useful for both. But what’s the best drone for hunting?
In this article we review our choices for the best drone for hunting in 2020. Similar to our best drones for fishing buying guide, we reviewed many different types of drones available on the market and picked out our favorites at different price points. Just getting into hunting and want a cheap drone to help with scouting? We got you. How about a more professional drone used for covering acres of rough terrain? There’s a hunting drone for that too.
We feature a quick summary of our favorite drones for hunting below. If you want to get into more detail, we go into our reasoning in the following sections and include the pros and cons of each hunting drone review. Let’s get started!
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
Overall Best Drone for Hunting
DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 won our best drone for fishing buying guide, and it also is our winner for the overall best drone for hunting. It’s packed with everything a hunter needs and takes power and portability to the next level. Its flight and camera capabilities are the best in the industry at its price point, which allows its controller to hunt deer, elk, and many more species like never before.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 comes with an impressive flight time of up to 34 minutes. Combine this with its camera gimbal system, and it helps you pull off the most aggressive and fast-paced wild game tracking. It also has an advanced obstacle sensing system that senses objects in three different directions. This makes it extra easy for beginners to learn the ropes and improves overall safety when flying your Mavic Air 2.
The Air 2 also has an excellent hunting capability due to its hi-definition ACtiveTrack tracking system. We’ll go into more detail on that below.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 has many brand new components and upgrades from the original Mavic Air. The Air 2 has advanced shooting functions that make aerial photography over miles of land easier than ever before. Its Spotlight system helps the camera lock onto a subject and reduces inflight disruptions. The ActiveTrack system also keeps the focus of your filming centered.
The Quadcopter comes with 2 additional rotors for replacement and an easy to use flight controller. Beginners will still be able to fly the Air 2 with ease due to the three-way object sensing system. This helps prevent accidental crashes or disturbance.
The camera has an impressive 48-megapixel sensor and the 3-axis gimbal allows for 4K video at 60 fps. The camera also has HDR capabilities with it’s Quad Bayer image sensor with OcuSync technology. The OcuSync allows for video transmission up to 6.2 miles or 10 kilometers away.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 comes with the Mavic Air 2 Drone, a convenient remote controller, flight battery, RC cables (USB, lightning, micro-USB), a control stick, three low-noise propellers, a gimbal protector, and a battery charger.
It can fly for up to 34 minutes and hit speeds of 42.3 mph in its sport mode. It has dimensions of 7.4×3.8×3.3 inches when folded, and weighs 20.1 ounces.
- Brand new drone technology.
- A winning combination of portability and videography.
Pricier than the more economical options.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is our winner for the overall best drone for hunting. Its combination of brand new drone technology with all the features you need to start a hunting hobby or perfect a craft you’ve been doing for years.
Best Economical Drone for Hunting
Holy Stone HS270
The Holy Stone HS270 is our choice for best economical hunting drone. It cost much less than the Mavic options and comes with everything you need to start scouting. The Holy Stone HS270 comes with 2.7K high definition camera with 5GHZ image transmission to relay what it’s filming quickly and efficiently.
It also folds into a portable rectangle that allows for storage in a small backpack or satchel. For beginner hunters looking to up their scouting game, we can’t recommend the Holy Stone HS270 enough.
The Holy Stone HS270’s camera captures video in 3840 x 2160 resolution for easy tracking and detailed scouting. It’s also equipped with GPS positioning so the drone can automatically follow where the pilot is walking. If it is getting low on power, you can press the return button and it will automatically fly back to where you are positioned. Its easy take-off and landing modes will ensure a safe launch and return.
The drone can also do auto-hovering. The pilot can design a flight path by setting several points on the controller screen or make it fly in a circle with the camera set to a particular point on the screen. All of these settings can be accessed in the Holy Stone App, which is loaded onto the controller or your smartphone.
The Holy Stone HS270 will last up to 18 minutes of heavy flying. Both drone’s flight arms and propellers are foldable and made of solid PVC plastic. Unfolded the Holy Stone HS270 is 16.5 in x 15.4 in x 3.5 in. When it’s folded it’s only 7.68 in x 4.10 in x 3.5 in.
Its FPV transmission has a range of up to 1300 feet, while it’s control range is up to 1968 feet. The intelligent battery with LED lights displays the remaining power it has so you can land it with appropriate power levels.
- Much cheaper than other drone options.
- Very portable.
- Weak flight time.
- Not as durable.
The Holy Stone HS270 is a great option for hunters who are just starting out or don’t want to invest a lot of money in their hunting drones. For hunters on a budget, the Holy Stone HS270 is the best bet.
Best High-End Drone for Hunting
DJI Phantom 4 PRO
The DJI Phantom 4 PRO is the best hunting drone for hunters who want to have it all from an established drone model. The Phantom is DJI flagship drone system and has been at the top for years now. It has a more powerful lifting system than other drones we tested and is compatible with the highest number of scouting accessories.
The drone’s frame is built out of titanium alloys and aluminum to increase strength and rigidity in flight. The Phantom PRO has a Flight Autonomy system that adds dual rear vision cameras and infrared sensing systems. This gives the drone 5-direction obstacle sensing capability and 4-direction obstacle avoidance.
The DJI Phantom 4 PRO has a brand new flight technology called Draw. Pilots can draw a route on screen and the Phantom 4 Pro will move in that direction drawn while flying at the same altitude. This helps the pilot to focus on other controls (such as camera or payload controls) and enables more complex flying strategies for tracking many types of wild animals.
The DJI Phantom 4 PRO also has an upgraded Lightbridge HD controller that adds 5.8ghz support on top of the 2.4ghz the standard model comes with. This prevents transmission lag and helps keep the drone exactly where you want it at all times.
The DJI Phantom 4 PRO has dimensions of 16 x 14 x 9 inches and weighs 6.5 lbs. It comes with a lithium powered rechargeable battery. The video processing system supports H.264 4K videos at 60fps or H.265 4K at 30fps. These both have a class-leading 100Mbps bitrate. The Phantom can fly for approximately 30 minutes on a full charge, which allows for many acres of hunting coverage.
- Time tested drone with many features.
- Advanced stabilization features.
If the price is not an issue for you, we highly recommend buying the DJI Phantom 4 PRO for hunting. Its titanium and magnesium frame will withstand years of intense scouting and heavy use. If you’re a hunter looking for the best and willing to pay more, the DJI Phantom 4 PRO will fulfill everything you need in a hunting drone.
Best Waterproof Drone for Hunting
Swellpro Splash Drone 3
The Swellpro Splash Drone 3 was the first waterproof drone, and it’s also our choice for the best waterproof drone for hunting. It comes with an S3 flight controller and propulsion system that allows the Swellpro Splash Drone 3 to fly safely and smoothly in wet conditions. The Swellpro Splash Drone 3 also comes with an orange colorway that matches hunting safety vests.
The Swellpro S3’s flight system is constantly checking for errors and uses redundancy to keep flight stability high. The GPS system uses up to 24 satellites from the GPS and GLONASS networks for improved accuracy and speed while flying.
The Swellpro Splash Drone 3 comes with a custom-designed remote controller that allows the pilot advanced control over the drone. It has a high-brightness 5″ FPV screen that displays live video and overlaid flight data without the need of a smartphone or other equipment. This is a lifesaver when hunting in poor weather conditions.
The Swellpro Splash Drone 3 has carbon fiber propellers that are light and stiff to propel the S3 into Beaufort Force 4 winds with gusts up to Force 6. The quick-fit rotor design enables fast and secure attachment of new rotors to the motor system.
The Swellpro Splash Drone 3 comes with a hard carry case and weighs 1447g. It’s maximum flight time is 20 to 23 minutes, and has a max flight speed of 20 m/s. It can carry up to 1 kg in payload weight. It is waterproof rated at 600mm deep for short periods of time.
- The gold standard for waterproof drones.
- The orange colorway is great for hunting.
- Tech needs an update.
The Swellpro Splash Drone 3 has everything you need to start hunting with a drone in all weather conditions. For the drone hunter who wants a time tested solution to all weather flying, the Swellpro Splash Drone 3 is a great option. Its technology may be a bit older than the DJI drones, but it has everything you need to go hunting.
Alternative Budget Drone
Ruko F11 Pro Drone
The Ruko F11 Pro Drone is another great option if you aren’t looking to spend a ton of money on a new drone. It has almost the same capabilities as the other expensive drones on our list but at nearly a third of the price.
The Ruko F11 Pro Drone comes with 4K video capabilities, a 120-degree lens, and a 2500mAh battery for up to 3.5 hours of sustained flying. Is also has a strong GPS and radio system, with control up to 500 meters away.
The Ruko F11 Pro Drone is built out of lightweight abs plastic and aluminum components to help increase flight time and agility. Another key feature we really like about the Ruko F11 Pro Drone is that it comes with Ruko’s 30 days no questions asked return policy. It also has a 90-day warranty for any parts that might break.
The Ruko F11 Pro Drone has 4K video, comes with two lithium-ion batteries, and several automated functions for easy flying. It has been designed with auto-return, one key take-off and landing, as well as many other automated features.
- Another great budget option.
- Portable design.
- Not as well built as the more expensive drones.
- Not waterproof.
The Ruko F11 Pro Drone is a great alternative budget option for hunters not looking to invest as much as they need for the more advanced models. We recommend the Ruko F11 Pro Drone for hunters looking to get their feet wet with drone hunting tactics.
Before concluding, here are the factors we considered when picking out the best drones for hunting. We also wanted to note the legality of using drones for hunting.
Drone technology continues to improve each year at a rapid pace. We wanted to recommend a drone that has cutting technology features and won’t feel old and clunky a few years down the road. The DJI options are definitely the most technologically advanced, but they cost a premium compared to other drone options. We believe the advanced components of the Air 2 are more important, which is why it won the best drone for hunting.
We also looked for waterproofing as an added bonus for the best drone for hunting. Since you’ll often be hunting in suspect weather conditions, having waterproofing is an added bonus that helps with confidence when flying your drone. It’s not necessary, but it is an added feature that is nice to have. The Swellproof is the only drone we recommended with full waterproofing, so if you plan to hunt in bad weather often it’s the best choice.
Drone Hunting Legality
Hunting with drones isn’t legal in some states like Montana, Colorado, and Alaska. However, in the states that it is legal, there are federal guidelines as to what you can and can’t do:
- All hunting drones must be registered which costs $5.
- You must fly your drone within your own line of sight.
- You must be at least 14 years old and a U.S. citizen to fly a drone.
- Drones may not be flown higher than 500 feet.
- Drones must weigh less than 55 pounds (with payload)
- You may not fly a drone faster than 100 mph.
- Drones can only be flown when it is light out.
- You may not fly your drone near any other aircraft.
Not adhering to these rules could result in a fine of up to $250,000 and three years in prison. Make sure you understand the laws of your state and follow them!