Hunting Technology: How Far is Too Far?

by Paul Annear

Cellular trail cameras, smartphone controlled heating elements, ozone machines, and automatic range-finding bow sights are just a few examples of recent technology advancements that have flooded the bowhunting world. And you can bet, this technology craze isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Many hunters embrace these advancements and grab hold of the latest and greatest. Other hunters find these new technologies too much, or simply do not believe it fits their hunting style and they self-limit themselves to the ways of old.

The Electronic Goodies

I have a good friend who was on the front lines for purchasing cellular trail cameras. Overall they worked well for him, and he encouraged me to try one. I waited a few years, but I ended up purchasing one this year and I must say, I am beyond impressed. Receiving pictures to your phone on property that is 3.5 hours away is convenient, time-saving and just plain fun. Do cellular cameras cross the line? I guess it depends on how you utilize the camera and view fair chase. In most cases, I believe cellular cameras simply let hunters know what areas are “hot.” Most hunters cannot drop whatever they are doing and go hunt a deer when they just received a photo. Some still believe even non-cellular trail cameras may cross ethical lines, although I am not aware of any hunters who do not have at least one trail camera.

Stealth Cam Set up

Trail cameras are priceless when it comes to scouting deer, but could they potentially hurt the way you hunt?

Battery powered tech items like ozone machines and range-finding bow sights may also be too much technology for some hunters. Certain people believe you should not win the game of deer hunting with an over-use of electronic gadgets. I hear where those hunters are coming from.  Hauling all these gadgets to the woods can take away some of the nostalgic views of hunting we all have burned into our memory. Were hunters in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s hauling ozone machines to the tree or using highly accurate range-finders and hunting out of ultra-insulated blinds while managing electronically controlled heated insoles from their iPhone? Not quite.

To this day, my father carries two things to the woods; his weapon and his flip phone. I am encouraging him to begin a new search for his long lost grunt call, but other than that, I am almost jealous in a way. My backpack is crammed with more stuff than a second grader. Grunt call, rattle bag, bow hangers, tow ropes, rangefinder, binoculars, wind checkers, knives, flashlights, and the list goes on. Not to mention after you carry all these gadgets to the woods, you sit and scroll social media and hunting apps to keep busy on stand. I am guilty of this, almost all of us are. Although embarrassing to admit, I find myself wondering what hunters did before cell phones and hunting gadgets? I remember those days, but barely. Seems like we just thought a lot, read a good book, maybe used a walkie talkie (I miss those), and you had to wait until the hunt was over to hear the complete story of a successful hunt. Even electronic deer registration is taking away from the hunt in some fashion, but I promise you, that process is here to stay. These ‘gadgety’ advancements must be dealt with individually and vetted through your own lens of hunting. Some folks will refuse to catch up, and that’s ok too.

hunting technology - ozonics-in-blind

Hunting technology can be great, and you can bet it’s here to stay. Will you embrace it, or fight it?

Is Hunting Better off without all the Technology?

Technology is a double edged sword in some cases. It can drastically improve hunting experiences and increase the chances for success. Other times, technology seems to cloud our adventures and may create frustration if you rely heavily on technology. For example, I assume public land DIY elk trips have been greatly improved with the growing technology of mapping applications, but if that technology fails somehow, you better have a few mental sketches for finding your way around. Overall, improved hunting technology has increased the hunter experience and continues to make the adventures more enjoyable. I do not believe technology related to deer hunting itself will be the downfall of the sport. I do believe social media could perhaps do that, but not advancements in hunting technology—two very important distinctions I want to point out. Insulated fiberglass blinds, clothing advancements and equipment improvements, all enhance the experience and make hunting more ‘fun.’

hunting technology - onx-map-image

Smartphone mapping programs like onX are incredible, but do you know how to navigate the backcountry without it?

Where do we go from here?

Increasing technology as it relates to deer hunting is not going to slow down. Somehow, equipment is going to be faster, quieter, and lighter. Clothing will be warmer and trail cameras will continue to blow our minds. Last year’s technology will be old news. For the most part, growing technology is going to help hunters kill game more quickly, and easier. All of this is not to say you should jump on board and break the bank on new technology each year. There is nothing wrong with sticking to what works, however, I believe any technological advancement to increase ethical hunting should be celebrated. The good news about advanced hunting technology is that you have a choice—you do not have to change. For some, keeping hunting simple is the contradiction to everyday life they strive for.

Comments

  1. Edward says:

    Hey Paul, I believe there is nothing wrong with using hunting apps. Like you said, it can drastically improve your hunting experience. When I go duck hunting, I find it useful to have the weather forecast, blind tracking and other tips at hand (e.g. on the duc.kr app). However, good old “analogue” stuff is handy as well. It’s not just for nostalgia, phones tend to run down very quickly in cold temperatures.

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