This opinion piece will probably irk a few folks but I am concerned about the direction in which the hunting industry is headed! Advances in technology are normally awesome and improve our lives but mixing technology and hunting is not my idea of improving the sport. All of this new technology and gadgetry are producing lazy hunters and spoiling the purity and main focus of hunting. That main focus is getting outside and enjoying nature and all of her surprises. Sure we want to put meat on the table but let’s face it if you can afford to get into hunting these days you are not going to starve if you miss an opportunity or two to harvest a game animal. On the eve of any hunting trip I plan, I can hardly sleep in anticipation of what awaits the next morning. I’m not browsing through my latest trail cam pics to see what would be the best time to get in the stand or wondering about if I set the timer right on the feeder. I’m not checking to see if the Ozonics is charged to mask my sent or gathering all of my camera equipment in preparation to film my hunt. To me, all of that just defeats the purpose. How can you go out and truly enjoy the experience if you have to worry about all that? I want to be pleasantly surprised by what I see not constantly checking my phone for the time or looking for that alert from my trail cam that a deer is heading my way! We already have enough of an advantage with camo clothing and advanced weaponry. This year I plan to downsize and streamline my approach to hunting. Hell, I might even ditch the backpack and actually use some of the 8000 pockets on my fancy hunting pants!
I as I often do each summer, sitting on a beach with a cold one, I review last hunting season. This season I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the ridiculous events. My poor dad had a great opportunity to harvest a beautiful 8 point buck during archery season but when shifting his foot in preparation to draw his bow, his boot collided with his backpack full of “just in case gear” and sent it hurtling out of his tree stand for a noisy meeting with the ground. The buck ran off about 20yards out of range and gave dad that “you dumb ass look” and casually walked off. When we met up back at the truck for lunch, no more than 300yards away from both of our stands, we emptied our packs and took inventory.
Multi-tool, buck knife, roll of toilet paper, rangefinder, rattling horns, grunt call, binoculars, flashlight, batteries, bottle of cover sent, drag rope and harness, butt out, gloves, apple, granola bar, crackers, slim jim, Bottle of water, bullets from gun season last year, face mask, mosquito repellent, camo duck tape, kitchen sink (just kidding about the sink but you get the idea). Each one of our packs contained these items and remember the location of our truck. Crazy. Aaaaaand most of the time we have access to an ATV to help remove any deer we are lucky enough to harvest.
I know there are a lot of hard-working folks out there that make their living documenting, filming and presenting their hunts on TV and numerous guide services that depend on this technology. I watch some of those shows and I am currently looking into using an outfitter for an elk hunt. I have even softened a little and put a hunting app on my phone mostly as a land management tool. I understand the business and don’t fault them for using these innovations for greater success, but for me, less is more. I go afield expecting to “fail” but I am not out there for success. I am out there for the experience of being in the animals’ kingdom and trying to put myself in the right place at the right time using just my god given senses and ability to read the natural sign, terrain, food sources, and weather. The thrill of the chase and the escape from the rat race is what keeps me coming out. That is what I want to pass on to my offspring. I don’t want to pick out a buck from a trail camera, name it, log the times and places where it comes and goes then set up a heated blind with a scent killing machine and tell my child “ok you have 1 hour to play on your cell phone until the buck shows up”. A small bit of exaggeration there but I have watched that scenario play out too many times on TV. We must draw the line somewhere and get back to basics to promote the pure joy of spending time in the outdoors. The memories we make sharing time outdoors with our families, friends and ourselves are the experiences that stay fresh in our mind for a lifetime.