Technology is pervasive in all aspects of our lives. We work and communicate predominantly via computers and the Internet. There are few among us who don’t have cell phones, and most now have smartphones capable of doing far more than just making calls. Technology has also become a big part of hunting.

Some say for better, others for worse.

One of the first examples I recall was when Quebec wildlife officials started affixing radio collars to a sample of caribou so they could track the migration and pass the information along to outfitters. At first blush it might seem unfair, but caribou hunting can be a boom-or-bust proposition. Imagine you’ve spent several thousand dollars on a caribou hunt and then go five to seven days without ever laying eyes on an animal. Knowing the location of migrating herds allows outfitters to move their hunters into areas where they at least have a chance. The rest is still up to the hunter.

Electronic game calls are another example. With the push of a button you can simulate the sound of a rutting buck, a lovesick hen turkey or an injured rabbit. Some folks think these calls offer an unfair advantage and some states even prohibit their use. But there isn’t any practical difference between electronic and mouth-blown or hand-operated calls. Placing a blade of grass between your thumbs and blowing through them produces the same sound as an electronic predator call. Personally, I prefer manual calls only because I enjoy becoming more proficient at calling, but I hold no ill will toward those who prefer a more technological approach.

Many technological advancements are now available as cell phone apps. Among the features available from is a scent cone indicator that shows you which way your scent will travel given prevailing winds. You can accomplish the same thing with a puff of powder or a handful of milkweed seeds, but it’s nice to know before you decide which stand to hunt.

Topographical maps are one of the most useful tools any hunter can own, and they’re now available in digital form that you can view on your laptop, desktop and smartphone. I’d venture that most hunters regularly use Google Maps to view their hunting locations and plan a day’s hunt. You could do the same thing with a paper map and aerial photo, but it’s quicker and easier just to pull it up on your computer or phone.


Some folks disparage the proliferation of technology in the hunting world, perhaps out of a sense of nostalgia for simpler times. But technological advancement has always been a part of hunting. Ages ago, clubs were replaced by sharpened sticks. The transition from stone knives and points to steel is no less significant than that from paper to digital maps or a blade of grass to an electronic call. Early American hunters eagerly replaced their smoothbore muskets with rifles, and later, flintlock rifles with caplocks. Few if any disparaged the invention of the smokeless cartridge, or any gun capable of firing more than one shot.

Admittedly, some advancements go beyond what most might consider fair chase. The ability to view wildlife and even fire a weapon remotely stirred up controversy recently, and the use of drones is being debated and outlawed in several states. Fortunately, through the public process we have the ability to decide what constitutes fair chase. Within those parameters, it then becomes a matter of personal choice how far into the technological world you care to venture.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

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