Hunting has definitely entered the 21st century, with range-finding rifle scopes, night-vision binoculars for predator and hog hunting, and apps for our smartphones that tell us exactly when the sun rises and sets.
And with new technology comes new ways to scout off-site, preventing you from putting down any scent that might disturb the deer you’re targeting.
Modern trail cameras allow hunters to keep an eye on deer trails without physically checking them. Transmitters can email images directly to your laptop, letting you stay away for days or even weeks.
Several camera manufacturers are beginning to offer this service, although some require subscription fees. But photos come stamped with time, date, moon phase and temperature to let you pattern specific deer.
But digital scouting doesn’t end there.
Software programs like Google Earth (www.google.com/earth) allow you to check terrain features in areas you haven’t physically seen. Newer satellite offerings can bring you current imaging that enables you to see whether a tree has fallen or a bait piles has been eaten near your favorite blind or stand.
Looking to lease a new property? Check a parcel without having to walk every square inch of it; find water and cover locations to get an idea of where to set up.
Many counties operate websites with property lines and other tax information available. Hunters can use these sites’ ARC GIS maps to find out who owns particular pieces of land and contact them for hunting permission.
Technology also means never again having to guess about tree-stand placement.
Websites like Intellicast (www.intellicast.com) give wind speed and direction for an area with up-to-the-hour information. So hunters can keep track of prevailing winds for several days or weeks to choose which direction to face, rather than guessing the direction of the wind and placing your stand haphazardly.
Overlooking price and politics, drones are an option, too. Ethical uses exclude following or harassing animals, but new civilian models can carry a video camera into the woods and check out areas you might consider hunting. Hunters could use the drones to follow game trails through the woods — all without leaving scent on the paths.
Technology gives and takes. And each hunter has to make a decision about how traditional or modern they want to hunt — but ethics ultimately have to be the priority of either choice.