Has technology has taken some of the charm out of hunting?


When deer hunting season begins I always think back to my youth. Back then I hunted with my dad and grandfather and hunting was a way of saving money. We wandered the woods carrying rifles with old fashioned iron sights and we had no fancy designer clothing.
My dad would never pay money to belong to a club, nor would he spend hard earned cash on scents, fancy soaps, calls, tree stands, feeders, two-way radios or any other accessories other than a compass and some matches. We scouted and did our best with what we had. It was fun.
Many scopes now have range finders that can automatically adjust for elevation. Some even have night vision capability for low light situations. This lets hunters stretch the shooting hours a little. Some guys will go to any limit for an edge. My pocketbook and conscience would never let me.
In my late teens I became interested in bow hunting. A simple recurve was all I could afford, but I got pretty good with it. The arrows had such arc at 40 yards or more that I felt like Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, trying to will my arrows to their target. My success was spotty, but I’m proud to say I never killed anything I didn’t retrieve.
Later I bought an inexpensive compound bow and that was a lot better. It still pales to the new ones which propel arrows at over 330 feet per second with an 80 percent let off. Modern releases make shooting even more accurate. A few years ago I bought my son a Mathews Switchback and when I pulled it back I thought I’d broken it. I could have held it at full draw for an eternity.
Even supposedly primitive muzzle loading rifles have been technologically juiced up. My first experience with a muzzle loader was an old flintlock and if conditions were damp it might not shoot at all.
The percussion types were better, but if the hunter didn’t hold on the target success was variable. Many times there was a delay between the pop of the percussion cap and the lighting of the powder charge.
Many modern inline muzzle loaders when equipped with state of the art scopes could shoot rings around my dad’s old Model 94 Winchester. So much for primitive firearms.
A couple years ago a friend of mine told me he calculated how much his venison cost him. He’s an accomplished hunter and along with his son they have no trouble filling all their tags. He still estimated his deer meat cost over $11 per pound, and he assured me he was being conservative. I believe him.
Hunting club membership, ATVs, fuel, ammunition, arrows, broad heads and numerous gadgets, soaps and fancy clothing really add up. I don’t mean to criticize the modern hunter. The sport has changed. I’m just old school. I think many others would like to be old school too, if it didn’t hamper their success.

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

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About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com) and frequently publish articles in several other newspapers in northeastern North Carolina. I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.
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