In these pages, we have explored many times the continuing conflict between the use of technology in wildlife hunting. This issue came up frequently during my 36 years working with him on hunting and wildlife regulation as his DNR conservation officer. I think this problem will continue because technology is constantly changing.

It always seemed to me that current book regulations were forever trying to catch up with technology. This is difficult to do because many wildlife regulations are very outdated, the methods of changing them are usually slow and slow-moving, and technology easily outpaces rules and regulations. is.

Some of the issues of the past seem pretty tame compared to what we face today in terms of how technology impacts hunting. Once upon a time, the firearms industry brought us fiber optic sights. Simply put, this is a small fiber optic cable attached to the open sight of a bow, muzzleloader, or modern firearm. The cable collects ambient light and “reflects” it back and forth within the cable. This allows the shooter to have bright vision even in very dark conditions, which are common when hunters are shooting game.

Again, compared to today, this seems like a fairly low-level addition to a hunter's toolbox. However, it was quite controversial at the time. Although many traditional archers complained about this, the group that expressed the most anger to me were muzzleloader archers who handled primitive weapons. The group didn't like this novelty and thought the fish and game agency that authorized it should tar and double feather it.

As I said, today's advances in technology seem much more impressive in terms of their impact on hunting in general. You may have heard that the use of thermal technology has increased in recent years. A thermal device is an optical device that utilizes an element called germanium to detect small temperature differences and uses a digital sensor to display the cause of the temperature to an observer looking through the optical device. When used properly, you can see animals and heat sources even on the darkest of nights. The photos you see usually have a dark or grayish background, and coyotes, deer, and other animals appear in bright whites, reds, or whatever color your optics are set to.

This is not the “night vision” optics your dad and others used in Vietnam. These optics operate entirely on heat sources.

As you can imagine, this technology is a huge advantage for animals that hunt at night. Over the past few years, these optics have revolutionized night hunting for coyotes and feral hogs, both as handheld monoculars and riflescopes. In most states, these animals are considered pests and can be hunted at any time, even at night. I've hunted with some buddies who are well-versed in the use of thermals, and using a riflescope attached to an AR-type rifle, a tripod, and an electronic transmitter, they can get tough on coyote packs. I've launched an attack.

There is not much controversy regarding the use of these devices on coyotes or nuisance feral hogs. Most landowners are trying to reduce these populations and don't care how you do it. When it comes to using thermal technology on game animals like elk, deer, and even turkeys, the world of wildlife regulation starts to take on cheese.

Since you're here, let's consider some possible scenarios with the technology in today's hunting world.

Locate injured prey using a thermal device. The men and women in the injured deer recovery game are far ahead of us in this regard. There are companies in several states that call in tracking dogs to track down deer that have been shot with a bow and cannot be found. Well, it turns out that there are some that use thermal devices mounted on drones. Operators may fly drones over hunters' areas to quickly locate deer lying in the woods. Even if the deer takes its last breath, it still has enough body heat to find the animal. Is this ethical? Should I find the injured animal by any means possible? I don't know, you tell me, and don't shoot the messenger. We've heard that some states may already ban the use of thermals and drones to locate injured animals.

Squirrel hunting. It's really squirrel hunting. For the first time, the use of thermal devices appeared in the world of competitive squirrel and raccoon hunting. In competitive hunting, dogs are scored on their ability to find and hold prey in a tree. Once the dog reaches the top of the tree, points will be awarded depending on whether the party can find the prey in the tree, whether it's a squirrel or a raccoon. Sometimes large amounts of prize money are at stake. If you're just recreational hunting, is it an unfair advantage to use thermals to find animals in the trees that you wouldn't be able to see without thermals? Can you tell me?

General night hunting. With the exception of some pests, no game animals are hunted at night in the United States. Interestingly, hunters in many European countries do not think this way. Critics of the use of thermals believe that widespread use of these devices will lead to more illegal hunting of deer and other animals at night. That may be true. I don't really understand.

What do you think about the use of more technology in hunting?

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