I am overwhelmed with fulfillment when I hunt. Especially when I observe something new, like noticing that a fox squirrel has the tendency to pause a little longer on a tree branch than a gray squirrel, or being surprised by a 350-pound black bear when he sneaks up just 10 yards away. When I hunt, I cross a boundary and enter the home of wildlife. It takes skill to kill something in its own environment. The feeling of a fair chase gives me a strong sense of gratification, whether I kill something or not.
With the technological advancements of the hunting industry, it’s evident that the ancestral skill of hunting is being dampened by technology. Whether these technologies are always helpful or not, game cameras, suppressors, drones, crossbows (I wholeheartedly support their use for hunters who need them), pop-up blinds and the like, can contribute to the abandonment of woodsmanship and the art of shooting game if we allow it to. Like any other form of technology in the modern world, all tools have their advantages and disadvantages to the skill of hunting.
These technologies and tactics are certainly assets to the hunting industry by increasing the success rate of harvesting game, most of the time. And they increase hunter numbers, too. These are really good things. They allow us to pattern the animals before stepping foot into the woods for the hunt. They save us time when we have other commitments (like work). And they ultimately help us prepare for the season better.
Technological inventions have helped flourish the industry economically, and they’re also advantages to hunters who might have other commitments that take away from their time to get in the woods more frequently. But making hunting convenient can take away the wisdom that comes with it. We can’t build skill or our knowledge of the woods if we aren’t out there looking for it and putting miles on our boots like our ancestors did. Our ancestors did not have the caliber of equipment that we are offered today, yet they still put the whitetail species on the brink of extinction a little over a century ago.
Other advancements that benefit the hunter are trail cameras that help manage the deer herd, food plots that grow healthy animals, or crossbows giving the physically-handicapped an opportunity to bowhunt. All are milestones that we have reached as a hunting community.
Technology inevitably increases negligence and decreases skill for anything that it was created for. I am certainly not suggesting that all technology is detrimental to hunting and that we should revert to the ways of our ancestors. But, it is still important to learn and understand the skills that hunting requires. Don’t lose sight of our past as we move farther into the future.
As we introduce the rising generation of hunters to the modern forms of hunting, we shouldn’t forget to first teach them about the natural tactics that hunting has traditionally entailed. Learn it. Practice it. But don’t solely depend on technology for a successful harvest all of the time. Hunting is one of the last pursuits that involves wisdom of the wilderness.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.