How technology has transformed hunting Field & Stream

As the weapon became more and more effective, man imposed more and more limitations on himself as the animal’s rival in order to leave it free to practice its wily defenses, in order to avoid making the prey and the hunter excessively unequal, as if passing beyond a certain limit in the relationship might annihilate the essential character of the hunt. —Jorge Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting

HORSE BOUNDARIES IN AN INCLUDED BEGINNING. Humans (or their ancestors) started hunting 2 million years ago. But until 800 years ago, setting boundaries for what you could kill and giving animals a chance to survive would have been considered insane.

Almost all the time we have been to clubs, spearfishing and hunting, eating enough to eat was an extremely unsafe business and the rules of engagement of hunters were three:

1) Kill him, no matter what.

2) Kill her kids too, because they are probably even better to eat.

3) Kill him by any means that offers the creature the slightest chance of escape – or the slightest chance of putting YOUR the lights went off.

Agriculture changed this way of thinking. By the Middle Ages, most European forests had been cut down for agricultural land and most of the wildlife had been eaten or, in the case of predators, exterminated. The result was not much hunting. Thus, European kings and nobility, never losing their taste for blood sports, decreed that taking game animals was forbidden to anyone except them, and they enforced this with a vengeance. In the Netherlands, if you had a dog chasing rabbits from your garden, game guards would stop and cut a paw. If you did it without permission, they would take one of your eyes out.

Boundaries were the law, and eventually the concept of fair prosecution developed there. The set criterion, decreed by kings and nobles, was not to be dealt with by the most efficient means, but by sport means, where the animal had a chance to leave.

We can respect the letter of the law, but we ignore its spirit from the constant use of technology.

In the New World, hunting went in the opposite direction. As soon as they arrived, the game-deprived colonists turned to mass killings. When the pilgrims landed, there were an estimated 3 to 5 billion passenger pigeons in North America. In 1914, the latter died at a Cincinnati Zoo. In 1800, there were 30 million to 60 million buffalo. By 1900, there were 300.

As we entered the 20th century, unregulated murder finally stopped. The hunters agreed that there should be no limits or there would be no game left at all. And the tools had to be sporty. This has been the case for a century.

Hunting 2.0

Now there is something else at work. We can respect the letter of the law, but we ignore its spirit from the constant use of technology. Technology has become so impressive that we are able to cancel out the means of subsistence that animals needed for the era to develop.

The game has only a few tools in its arsenal: sight, smell, hearing, speed and cunning. These evolved to protect them against predators operating at a distance with bad breath and people operating within the range of primitive bows and arrows. But pull far enough away and everything changes. The animals have no idea that you are around, and if you shoot, they have no idea where the shot came from, and so they will stand and try to figure out what is going on, and the moment they do, whether they do, it’s too late.

Along with this reliance on electronics, there has come a decline in skills. If you are navigating with a map and a compass, you need to master three special skills: using a magnetic needle, understanding topographic map hieroglyphs, and being able to read that map and understand what awaits you. Or you can use a GPS and be a guy who can use a computer.

base plate compass on paper map
Keep in mind that knowing how to navigate a map and compass can save your life – mastering and using an old skill like this can also be very rewarding. Kristofor Testani

Want to shoot long distances, but want to give up time wastage, like spending years in the shooting range, sending thousands of bullets at the target to master the mysteries of the wind and the trajectory? Do not worry. Spend $ 30 on a ballistic app for your smartphone and it will give you a fire solution. But then you are not a shooter. You are a guy with a smartphone and a $ 30 app.

Because there are no limits to the electronic devices we can use, I fear we are transforming ourselves into so many armed.

We have gone too far

I have no great desire for devices of the past, nor do I automatically reject technology. You can not give me a space or a binoculars from the 1950s.

I think accurate and cheap chronography is an invention that ranks alongside the jet engine and antibiotics. I think Wilbert and Robert Gore, who invented Gore-Tex, should erect statues of them. I think the big game lead made entirely of copper is not only a good idea ecologically, but a great bullet overall. I like dry feet and high-tech hunting clothes that weigh a third of the wool and do a better job.

But some devices do a lot and go too far, though I only know one case where it has been largely rejected because of this. This was the TrackingPoint firing system, which debuted in 2013. It was a rifle that connected to a TV monitor and a computer and processed everything. TrackingPoint hit the target and figured out where to hold it, and when you set the point where the computer told you to, the rifle let you shoot. That was a bit of an exaggeration for the hunting public, and that, combined with TrackingPoint’s $ 27,500 price tag, drove the company out of business in 2015. TrackingPoint is what happens when there are no boundaries. Next time who knows?

Hunting and fishing are restricted by law, but the law only goes this far. The boundaries you set for yourself come only from you.

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