Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Are we forgetting how to hunt?

Technology Blog
Advancements in technology have their place in the outdoors, but Mike Raykovicz asks if we are losing the woodsmanship skills that used to be such a big part of hunting. Photo from Mike Raykovicz

I was in a barbershop thumbing through an outdoor magazine waiting for a haircut when an ad for a trail camera caught my eye.  

The ad touted the advantages of the manufacturer’s latest model, and I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading. The big selling point of this camera was that the owner never had to go back to check it for photos because he or she could download the captured photos using a smartphone. 

Imagine that. Sitting at your office desk and checking what was going on at your favorite hunting site miles away.  

When it comes to technology, I have no issues with some things. I use trail cameras, fiber optic sight pins, warm, water-resistant clothing, a state-of-the-art bow, and super straight carbon arrows. I do wonder, however, if today’s hunters are relying too much on technology while their actual hunting skills diminish or never really develop. 

In the not too distant past, I would pace off distances of 15, 20 and 25 yards from my tree stand and mark each distance with a rock or stick. If a deer appeared, I needed only to reference its position with my predetermined mark, select the proper pin and release an arrow. 

Today, rangefinders can tell a hunter exactly how far a deer is and some of the better models even have a built-in inclinometer that adjusts the distance according to the hunter’s vertical distance above the ground. No more guessing the distance to a target. 

Hunting sights have evolved for the better and I doubt you can find one that doesn’t have a light-gathering fiber optic pin. 

Being able to see your pins is a good thing and I’m all for that, but now some high-end crossbow sights feature a built-in rangefinder that not only tells the user the distance to the target, but they select the proper pin as well. No more guessing which pins to use. 

Some brands of hunting clothes feature scent-absorbing technology and they do a good job of at least reducing human odor. Scent-killing ozone generators that run on batteries are used by many hunters to kill their odor while hunting from a tree stand or blind. 

Hunters can buy sprays that promise to do the job as well, but do we rely too much on them? I remember a few years ago a clothing company published ads in many outdoor magazines that said, “Forget the wind, just hunt.”  

I always thought that was nonsense because a good hunter will always attempt to stay downwind of almost any animal they may be hunting, especially deer. I’ve always reasoned that if they did, there wouldn’t be a need for spays, ozone generators, or scent-suppressing clothing. 

Where’s the woodsmanship?

I know several hunters who don’t bother to do any scouting before the season opener because they fully intend to hunt from one of several permanent stands they have overlooking the “food plot” they planted the previous spring. 

I doubt some of them could tell the difference between a red or white oak or how weather patterns are likely to affect deer movement. 

In my opinion, today’s smartphones are killing, or at least diminishing, the outdoor experience for many hunters because they use them to pass the time while on watch. Among many other things, apps like HuntStand and onX Hunt allow hunters to mark data points and to review property lines. 

Checking the phone for messages, the stock market, ball scores, or just about anything else is perfectly understandable, but not while hunting. By being engrossed in their phone, many hunters may miss the things that make being in the woods fun even if the deer aren’t moving. 

Squirrels burying nuts, chickadees on the branch next to me, and a flight of Canada geese winging their way south never fail to get my attention. Full disclosure here. I do carry a smartphone in case of an emergency or to summon help if I get a deer. 

I don’t disagree that technology has changed our lives, but we shouldn’t let it take the fun out of hunting. Scouting potential food sources, being able to read the wind, and understanding how weather fronts affect deer movement are all a part of what hunting was and should be. 

We shouldn’t allow technology to take that away from us.

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