Technology Unchained

It’s personal and it’s public.

Hunting confronts us with many choices. It both teaches and challenges us, which is why it is such a unique and deeply rooted tradition. There are many things that challenge the notion of fair chase, and the use of new technologies is one of them.

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 “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 eatable 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. When hunting becomes too easy, too predictable, and less challenging, something very special is lost. 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 form 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. The use of such new technologies may well increase a hunter’s advantage to the point where game no longer has a reasonable chance to escape. The use of these new technologies increases a hunter’s advantage while decreasing the reasonable chance of game to escape. States and provinces sometimes establish 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. These agencies also regulate hunting equipment and methods for public and environmental safety, and to uphold the principles of fair chase by limiting an unfair advantage.

“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.

Traditions like hunting 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.