February 02, 2015
Every year come fallhunting seasons, groups of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters,grandparents, friends and everyone in-between get together across this greatcountry of ours to take part in a time-honored tradition.
Plans are made far inadvance and you can bet the season opener is clearly marked on their calendars –their smartphone calendars, that is.
What makes the age-oldtradition a bit more contemporary is the high-tech apparel and gear that is apart of the process these days. From infrared trail cameras to waterproof,windproof clothing with digitally enhanced camouflage patterns to laser range-findingbinoculars, high-tech products have certainly impacted the way that peoplehunt.
But most of these huntingfamilies – including the Drury family and the Holder family – are quite happyto mix the old and the new, all for the sake of quality time together in thewoods.
"Absolutely, 100 percent,"said Mark Drury, who along with his brother Terry and their children, haveturned a cutting-edge call-making operation into a virtual empire of outdoors televisionshows on Outdoor Channel, including Drury’sTHIRTEEN, Dream Season: The Journeyand Bow Madness, that entertain andeducate hunters.
"Like I always have, Istill enjoy spending time with my family hunting each year, now as much asever," added Drury. "Even after all of these years together, I stilllook as forward to our next hunt together as I did the last one we wenton."
David Holder, co-host of OutdoorsChannel's Raised Hunting show alongwith his wife Karin, readily admits that high-tech gear has impacted hunting,although it hasn't done much to change the reason that he and his family gooutdoors.
"I think that as faras the hunting gear itself goes, we would all be doing what we do, with orwithout it," said Holder. "In some instances, it makes us betterhunters, like when we use a rangefinder that can tell us exactly how far a shotis or use a handy little bag that produces heat when we shake it up. But eventhough we have all these gadgets right at our fingertips, it's the people thatwe are with, that really matter."
That's not to say thathigh-tech gear hasn't made an impact, because Drury believes otherwise.
"High-techadvancements have positively affected the time that we spend out in the fieldeach year," he said. "Just the other day, I was in a local tire shopand an older farmer gentleman came in out of the cold wearing coveralls. Itreminded me of my younger days hunting and how tough some of those days werewearing that kind of clothing because it was all we had. The stuff we weartoday from Under Armour and other clothing makers, even when compared to just10 years ago, is light years ahead and helps us stay out there a lot longer onthose tough weather days."
Holder agrees and notesthat the clothing and boots of today enable hunters to stay out longer and be stealthieras they hunt. But he is quick to point out that advancements in technology hasno doubt drawn new young hunters from the high-tech era into the fold.
"Easton Holder, the14-year-old in our house, says that this is very important because it opens thedoor for all sorts of kids to get involved," said David. "These arekids that would never have thought of picking up a bow before, who can now goto a local sporting goods store or archery shop and quickly begin to see somesort of accomplishment."
Drury agrees: "I thinkspecifically, over the last 10 years or so, we've seen major advancements inbows, arrows, guns, bullets, game cameras and other gear. All of that hashelped to make us more efficient hunters and has helped to enhance theenjoyment of the sport that we find in the field. In fact, I don't know ifthere is another decade in our industry's history like the past 10 years."
While the influx ofhigh-tech gear has found its way into all forms of fall hunting from the chasefor western big game to waterfowl hunts to upland bird outings, Drury isconvinced that the trend has been most noticeable in deer hunting circles.
"In my opinion, therehas not been a greater advancement in recent years than trail cameras,"said Drury. "At least as far as where Terry and I are concerned, over thelast five years, these cameras have taken our whitetail hunting to a wholeother level."
"Because of (gamemanagement techniques) and the use of cameras, we get to see which deer live onour lands and we get to analyze the data about their travel habits, where theybed, what they eat, etc.," said Drury. "Because of that, we have acarefully formulated game plan when we encounter a deer now rather than a shootor don't shoot snap decision after a 15-second glimpse of a buck like we hadnot too many years ago."
Does such high-tech gearand gadgets make hunting too easy as some critics claim?
"I won't make anargument either way," said Holder. "I think the most important partof our pastime is not what we use to hunt, but that we hunt and that we do itwith people we love and with respect for fair chase of the quarry that we pursue.If we keep those elements in mind, I don't care if you have (the latest)electronic scope or a long bow."
Drury says that he iscertain of one area where new technologies have helped hunting, although itisn't necessarily with gear.
"I'm thinking that thehigh-tech communication that we have available to us today helps through theuse of social media," he said. "It presents hunting in a positivelight and keeps the fire stoked for others out there. It's the same thing withoutdoor television too, it helps show hunting in a positive light and it drawsinterest and participation from others."
Holder agrees: "Thenext time we share a selfie of our hunt, as long as we do it in a clean and atasteful way, even the smartphone is helping to promote the time-honored traditionthat we love."
And that's something thatexcites both Drury and Holder as they get into the woods with their familieseach year.
With backpacks containing selectionsof high-tech gear and gadgets, things that help make an age-old experience moreenjoyable, comfortable and efficient.
Allwhile priming the pump to keep them and their families coming back for more inthe years to come.