Are we allowing technology to take over our lives?
I pose the question as I sit here running my fingers across a keyboard making my thoughts appear on the screen of a 32-inch monitor, as if by magic. If I were so inclined, I could choose to sit back and tell my computer what I am thinking, and it would do my typing for me. It’s great that those options are available to me, I can’t even read my own handwriting anymore.
It would be hard to argue against the premise that computers and the internet have turned our lives on end, and it is difficult to know where the boundaries are and when we should push back against the technology.
There isn’t much we do today — whether it be cooking, cleaning, communicating, traveling, repairing a car and just about everything else — that hasn’t been impacted by technology. That would include hunting and fishing, if you are so inclined.
There was a time when a fish finder was nothing more than the guy holding the fishing rod. Today, a fish finder is a device that uses sonar (a sound navigation and ranging system) that can show the angler the contour of a lake bottom and where the fish are hiding in those contours. It can also show you if they are suspended in the water column under your boat. Today’s fish finders can even give the angler a fair idea as to the size of the fish that appear on the screen. The latest models may have built-in features such as GPS, electronic compasses and radar. Using your cellphone, you can have maps of your favorite lakes and streams at your fingertips. It’s hard for a fish to escape detection.
Hunting has been no less impacted. In fact, the technical advances in hunting equipment have caused the Boone and Crockett Club to evaluate its policy on the use of technology as it relates to the harvest of animals that are eligible for entry into its record books. The new policy became effective in December.
At issue is the use of trail cameras that can transmit images via wireless technology, smart rifle scopes and GPS-enabled technology. In some minds, the quest for efficiency is on a collision course with hunting ethics.
The Boone and Crockett Club was founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, its core mission being to promote the conservation and management of wildlife, especially big game, and its habitat, to preserve and encourage hunting, and maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship in North America.
According to the organization’s website, that mission has remained relatively unchanged for over 130 years. Over time, the club has seen many challenges to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which it helped to create, as well as to the traditions of hunting.
When and where necessary, the club has taken action to protect this Model. As a part of this process, the club has developed positions that support its beliefs and mission and protect the fair chase ethic. Abuse the use of technology, violate the fair chase ethic, and your once-in-a-lifetime trophy will not make it to the record book, even if it is otherwise qualified.
While some of the devices and activities may be legal in some jurisdictions, they may bar your entry into the record book because they violate the spirit of fair chase.
For instance, you are sitting in your treestand, and you get an alert that your have an inbound message on your cell phone. A trail camera has sent you a picture of a deer that you have been watching for months. You know the deer will not be passing your stand because the camera is on a different trail. You quickly gather your equipment, change positions, and a short time later that trophy buck walks within shooting distance. If you had not received that wireless transmission you would not have collected the wall-hanger.
Because of the growing popularity of trail cameras, they have been banned by a number of states, with perhaps more on the way. The wireless transmission models were the first to go, but a couple of states are now targeting all trail cameras. Also in their sights are two-way radios, cell phones, night vision devices, range finders built into rifle scopes, drones and thermal imaging devices.
There may be nuances for the use of these devices, but any trophy submitted for consideration to Boone and Crockett is going to require the hunter to sign an affidavit they didn’t use a smart scope, remote trail camera or some other banned device to take the animal.
Making the decision all the more difficult is that not everyone sees the technological advances in the same light.
If your expectation is to make the record books, it would pay to know all of the Boone and Crockett policies and make sure you play by the rules.
Bill Conners of the Federation of Fish and Game Clubs writes on outdoors issues. Email: [email protected]