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Keeping Up With The New Times!


“In our rather stupid time, hunting is belittled and misunderstood, many refusing to see it for the vital vacation from the human condition that it is, or to acknowledge that the hunter does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, he kills in order to have hunted.”

Jose Ortega y Gasset – Meditations on Hunting


As a hunter I am a traditionalist at heart. I like to keep things simple while I enjoy time with and within nature, away from the tribulation of “our rather stupid time.” But, if hunt is to continue to be a relevant activity, from ecological, economic, cultural or societal standpoints, then we must continue to recruit new hunters, from all diverse segments of society, and that means that even troglodytes like me must accept certain new-fangled things intruding in our hunting experience.

One of the greatest pleasures that I have is to spend time afield with my grandson Sylas, be it in a deer blind or walking after Hawk while he is using his nose to locate woodcock, grouse or pheasants. But sitting in a blind with a ten-year-old boy presents certain challenges, especially if deer take longer than five minutes to show themselves. For as much as I hate to admit, the solution for quite some time has been to allow him to watch videos or play games using a smart phone or tablet. I know that this may offend certain purists, even more traditionalist than me, after all I mostly use a centerfire rifle for deer and not a long bow, but I would rather have my son hunting with me, even if on occasion he is looking at a phone screen, than not having him hunting with me.

But the unavoidable presence of the smart phone in the blind let me to consider that that new-fangled thing might have more practical uses than just keeping children entertained, to the point that I had a slide about the use of smart phone in the field during the last Hunter Education class that I taught.

So, how could a smart phone be used while hunting:

·       Safety: if coverage is available, you could use your phone to contact family, friends or first responders in case of an emergency. Even without coverage, you could pinpoint the geocoordinates of your hunt blind or tree-stand and share with your loved ones before going hunting so it would be easy to locate you if you get delayed by weather or an accident. Talking about weather, the phone can be used both to check weather forecasts and receive alerts about inclement weather.

Other useful features are compass and GPS (satellite based), navigation apps and a flashlight. Believe it or not, but in a late season archery hunt in Illinois the three flashlights that I had all went dead (maybe due to the very cold weather), and in the end of the day (or beginning of the night!) my phone provided the only light for me to walk out safely.

·       Compliance: Following applicable laws and regulations is as important as proper ethical behavior afield. Of course, the specifics will depend on where you may be hunting, but here in Michigan you can use a smart phone to first download the DNR app, and then you can review regulations specific for you target game and season up to checking legal shooting hours for each day of the season! You can also complete the mandatory Harvest Report for deer even before you drag your quarry out of the woods, and using GPS or any number of apps the hunter can verify that he is outside of the 450 feet safety zone from any dwellings.

·       Entertainment: While my grandson prefers to watch videos or play games, I have a reasonably large and eclectic library on my phone, ranging from classic hunting books to science fiction to literary classics to comedy. I have a friend that likes either music or audio books and my son would probably listen to podcasts. I rather keep my hearing unobstructed and try to listen to any disturbances to the fall leaves that blanket the ground or to the wild music the Canada geese play when flying overhead.

·       Record your experiences: The camera capabilities of most modern smart phones, either for still pictures or movies, are outstanding, and as we move away from the precious written word to the world of multimedia, a lot of people nowadays focus on that. Reactionaries like me take notes and later try to write a blog (similar to this) to relate their experiences. Many anthropologists correlate the development of human language and the need of hunters to communicate, teach young hunters and especially to tell stories and tales about their past experiences. The modern hunter, whether young or old, can also use his story telling abilities, written or pictographic, to recruit new hunters and help perpetuate our unique way of life.

I bet that the younger generation that is much more versed on the use of smart phones than me will be able to come with a myriad of other potential uses for their handheld devices, but we should be smart enough to use modern gadgets to help us recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and have more people enjoying the great outdoors.

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