The availability and reliability of radio controlled drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles has provided hunters with a unique tool for scouting game animals. However, the use of these small, and extremely mobile radio controlled drones for hunting purposes has already been banned in several states.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled over four dozen new outdoor access projects that are intended to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts to an additional 380,000 acres of untapped and underutilized State lands across New York.
The newly opened access points will include more than $6 million in projects to improve access to hunting and fishing, boat launches, and new hiking opportunities. Many of the proposed projects will make the trails and boat launches available to persons with disabilities for the first time.
The new plans are part of the Governor’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, which is intended to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state by improving recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen.
Gov. Cuomo also made mention of a new state initiative intended to limit the liability of landowners who permit the public to access their properties for hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor recreational pursuits.
It was interesting to note the Governor’s recent announcement also included a proposal to allow hunting with a crossbow again in New York State. While the proposed measure is certain to rile up the bowhunting fraternity again, it’s time the devout bowhunters gave up the ghost.
There’s little doubt crossbows were once a more accurate and much easier hunting tool to use, than longbows.
However, there are very few longbow archers left afield today. The majority of today’s bow hunters now use compound bows that are just as fast, and every bit as accurate as any crossbow.
The bitterness the crossbow issue has stirred up among NY sportsmen and women only served to divide sportsmen and to embolden anti-hunting advocates. New York’s sportsmen and women need to work together,not against each other.
The battle over the use of modern technologies in the pursuit of traditional outdoor sports has recently soared to new levels.
The latest options have a reach that is far above the lightweight climbing tree stands or any well placed game cameras.
In fact, the newest hunting tools are drones that are being used to scout game from the air. It seems that some hunters are always looking to the newest technology to provide them with the edge or an unfair advantage over wild animals.
I recall the days when a length of sewing thread strung across a deer run was considered a major advance in scouting technique.
Sure enough, the old ‘string across the trail’ technique was refined with the addition of a digital clock that recorded the exact time the animal passed by.
When game cameras first came out, they provided an actual photo of “whatever passed this way again”, at least until the film or the batteries ran out.
Game cams with digital technologies soon replaced the old film versions, and the show was on.
Today’s game cams allow hunters to check the size and number of deer feeding on their food plots or walking down the big runway, in real time.
There have been legitimate reservations voiced over the use of game cams that send an instant text message with a digital photo to alert a hunter that Bambi is back.
In New York, as in many other states, it is illegal to use any electronic device (cell phone, walkie-talkie, etc.) to alert other hunters of approaching game.
However, the statute does not cover similar acts of electronic communication that are relayed from a game cam to a cell phone.
The argument revolves around the concept of Fair Chase which is intended to balance the skill and equipment of a hunter with the ability of the prey animal to escape.
Ethical hunters abiding by the fair chase ethic do not employ tactics or techniques that provide them with an unfair advantage over the game animals they seek.
They show respect for other people and wildlife and expect other hunters to do the same. When hunters take unfair advantage of game animals it creates a poor hunter image.
For example, it is ethical to use calls and decoys to lure a Wild Turkey into effective shooting range.
However it is neither fair or legal to shoot a turkey that’s roosting in a tree.
While many hunters readily admit game cameras have revolutionized scouting, especially the type that stream “real-time” images directly to a cellphone, there is a line that should never be crossed.
When hunters fail to abide by such established limits, the sport is lost and their actions no longer can be considered a hunt.
As technology grows ever more advanced, there are certain to be even more ethical gymnastics.
Recently, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones” for scouting has been in the news.
Last month, the Pope and Young Club, a venerable North American conservation and bowhunting organization, issued a statement declaring that the use of drones for bowhunting purposes is considered a breach of the rules of fair chase.
Bowhunters have used drones to scout for deer, and animal rights groups have used them to harass hunters they deem unethical.
In fact, drones have become so popular and prolific, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission has voted to make Colorado the first state to prohibit Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for hunting and game scouting. Within a month of the decision, game commissions in Montana and Vermont approved similar bans.
And in efforts to protect the hunters from wayward drones that have been employed by animal rights enthusiasts to harass hunters, legislators in Tennessee and Alabama have introduced legislation to prohibit the use of drones to interfere with private citizens who are lawfully hunting or fishing.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.