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Technology, Hunting, and What is Fair

Would you agree that most hunters think of themselves as rugged and self-reliant? We engage in an ancient activity, some would call it a sport, others wouldn’t, where we pursue wild animals and kill them. Now, I know that is a striking thing to say so early while some of you are having coffee and Cheerios, and you may not want to hear it. But hunting does involve killing and I feel it is best, to be honest and just get it out there.

OnX and trail camera

All you have to do is pick up a hunting supply catalog or turn on one of thousands hunting and shooting-related videos to see what is out there for the hunter.

Working on the premise that some of us hunters may see ourselves as modern Jerimiah Johnstons, you would have to live in a cave or under that proverbial rock we always talk about to not see that modern technology can and does affect how we hunt. All you have to do is pick up a hunting supply catalog or turn on one of thousands hunting and shooting-related videos to see what is out there for the hunter. Trail cameras, satellite-connected mapping applications, and range-finding devices are but a few of what is available. Hunting arrows with an embedded tracking device, rifle scopes that allow you to dial in long-range shots on animals, and aerial drones are all waiting in the wings for you to check out.

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It is impossible to talk about these advancements in technology related to hunting without someone bringing up the old debate about what is fair. What is fair and what is not fair in hunting can be cussed and discussed until all the bovines (cows) come home and then some. More on this later.

The satellite-based mapping device application, showing topographical features and property lines for public and private land may be the most useful innovation for hunters in many years. OnX Hunt is one of the mapping applications available to install on your cell phone and computer. This handy tool shows property lines for public land, private land, roads and trails, and many other features. OnX Hunt was developed By Eric Siegfried in 2009 to support hunters in finding boundaries and access to public land. OnX Hunt started out as a chip and then in 2016 became an application for your phone and computer. OnX is likely the most widely used hunting-related mapping app. One reason I know it is good, and accurate, is that it is widely used by game wardens around the country to determine property lines at a glance. onxmaps.com 

As always anytime we are discussing things in the hunting and technology realm…

As always anytime we are discussing things in the hunting and technology realm, the subject of the trail cam has to rear its head. Recently the state of Utah’s game and fish department saw fit to outlaw the use of trail cameras for hunting, it is my understanding Arizona did the same thing not long ago.

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Reportedly Utah conducted a survey of hunters within the state (I am told it was only about 2,000 participants) and the outcome was rather close. Only about 52% of those questioned said they would want trail cameras to be regulated in some way for use by hunters. Then when the Utah Wildlife Board voted on the matter, it was a 3-3 tie among board members, and the tie was broken, for the side of banning the trail camera, by the vote of the board’s chairman. Now I know that the Utah Wildlife Board does not want some hillbilly from back east telling them how to run their railroad. But I would submit to you that the above procedure is not the way to run a railroad or decisions on wildlife and hunting.

The trail camera allows us to see what is going on in the area and what animals are around no doubt.

As noted before we could argue the trail camera issue until the trumpet sounds with probably little results. From my own view, the trail camera column has more pluses than minuses. The trail camera allows us to see what is going on in the area and what animals are around no doubt. Is this unfair advantage detrimental to the resource? I don’t think so, I have heard more than one rabid big buck hunter say if anything the trail camera conserves more deer than it takes. If the hunter sees that an exceptional buck is in the area, he may hold off on taking other deer as he is waiting for the big boy to appear. And as most hunters know, Mr. Big may never make an appearance in the light of day. 

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I would argue that just because you are seeing a deer on pictures is not a great advantage, if you check your pictures a week later and see Mr. Big, do you think you are going to climb into the stand and send him to his reward, an hour later? No, pilgrim, that is not going to happen. As to the cell phone-connected trail cams, so you see a picture on the phone where Mr. Big has just trotted in front of the camera, you are going to leave the home or office, blunder into your stand area and proceed to collect your monster buck? Nope, ain’t gonna happen. 

So put me down for the trail camera does more good than harm, besides they are just plain fun to play with. You see what is in the area, and that is more than deer. Turkeys, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, and everything else that passes by. This hunting thing is supposed to be fun, remember?

So here we are out of time and space again and didn’t address what is fair yet. From past discussions maybe you will recall I believe it is hard to put the fair monitor on hunting. Chasing animals with airplanes and motor vehicles, no question, that’s out. I would have no problem with not using all of the new flying drone technology. I think the different forms of baiting wildlife could come into question before trail cameras. (Remember I have always said that if baiting is legal in your state and you want to do it, go for it.)

The fact is boys and girls it is hard to talk about what is “fair” when you discuss hunting. We are human, the animals we hunt are not. Most of us (not all) just naturally have more brainpower than those animals. We also have these things we call thumbs. All this along with the firearms and other things we humans have just make the whole “fair” thing quite murky.

Like I have told you before, how are we going to get as fair as it can be for the animals? Are we going to resort to wearing a loincloth and carrying a sharp stick? Trust me, you don’t want me and my hunting buds showing up on your trail cam like that.

– Larry Case, HashtagWV #140. March 2022. Contact Larry at Larryocase3@gmail.com and visit GunsandCornbread.com Listen to the Podcast at blanchardnetwork.com

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