Technology Unchained

Taking the “hunt” out of hunting.

There are many things that challenge the notion of fair chase, and the use of new technologies is one of them.

Is this really what is going on with the quickened place of technology’s influence on hunting? Some would say yes. They tend to be among the older generation where the phrase “Is that really necessary?” gets tossed around a lot. Others who have grown up with apps and Bluetooth expect the newest technological adaptations, think nothing of it, and shun the “back in my day” crowd telling them otherwise. An argument can be made from both points of view, but what does all this mean for hunting’s future? Can we simply say, too much of anything can be a bad thing?

It’s a balancing act. On one hand, old-fashioned American ingenuity and innovation are what built this country. Our society normally embraces technology without question because it is seen as advancement for the better and, to an extent, is a symbol of status. New gear and gadgets can be beneficial, such as those that help elderly or physically handicapped people continue hunting. Technologies that advance human safety, the recovery of game, secure edible meat from spoilage, and make hunters better marksmen are also positive advancements. Ensuring a quick, humane death without unnecessary suffering is one of the responsibilities of every hunter.

On the other hand, new technologies can overly tilt the scales in favor of the hunter. Here, the affects can be felt in different ways. On a personal level, and one that the traditions of hunting are built upon, when hunting becomes too easy, too predictable, and less challenging, something very special can be lost: the very nature of hunting itself.

Hunting has always been more meaningful than just shooting game. The overuse, or an over-reliance on technology has the potential to reduce hunting to an unrecognizable, mechanized from of lethal shopping that is unacceptable to both hunters and non-hunters.

Advancements in technology adapted for, or made specifically for hunting can also make hunting success so easily attainable that it might result in a harvest rate beyond which some game populations can sustain. New technologies can increase a hunter’s advantage to the point where game no longer has a reasonable chance to escape. States and provinces respond by establishing laws to restrict the use of certain equipment in order to ensure that their use does not negatively affect the game populations for which they are responsible.

“The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.” —Saxton Pope

Beyond what is legal, it is ultimately up to each person to choose how they hunt, including whether using a specific hunting technology is necessary and will still provide the type of experience they seek. Individual choices also reflect on hunters and hunting as a whole.

Hunting confronts us with many choices. It both teaches and challenges us, which is why it is such a unique and deeply rooted tradition. Such traditions are supported as long as those things that make it a tradition have not been stripped away. If hunting is reduced to pushing a button on a device, it will be impossible for hunters to maintain any claim the hunting is both challenging and rewarding.