Along The Trail 7-27-17

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Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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By now, anyone that has followed ‘Along the Trail’ knows that I’m unapologetically old school when it comes to my choice of hunting gear.

I like stick bows, have a thing for cedar arrows and I’d rather wear soft, plaid wool than clothing made from the latest high tech camo materials. It’s just my personal preference. The way I see it, if the old time stuff worked for our grandparents’ generation, why can’t it still work today? Fact is, all the “out dated” hunting gear I use works perfectly fine, it just takes some doing and practice along with some woodsmanship and a good dose of luck.

For some reason, we constantly try to build a better mouse trap. I suppose it’s hard wired in us as humans to always try and make something better, or at least what we think is better. The hunting industry is full of the latest, newest, “must have” gear. Someone is always trying to improve upon a product or come up with some hair brained plan.

I’m a devoted traditional bowhunter and I have zero issues with my fellow hunters that use modern gear. In truth, ‘trad’ guys are a drop in the bucket when it comes to bowhunters overall and the outdoor industry. Most of the gear made for traditional bowhunters come from the cottage industry side of things, small companies and mom and pop shops.

I like it that way…

But, here’s the rub for me: The bowhunting industry introduces new products that erode what bowhunting is supposed to be about. The whole premise of using archery gear for hunting lies in its uncertainty, in its challenge. Bowhunting is supposed to be difficult. Over the past several years, the archery product manufacturers have introduced items that have made bowhunting almost easy. What used to be something tough, something to hang your hat one, has now become almost routine. Bowhunting success rate percentages are now approaching those of firearms hunting success rates. It’s turned into a game of not if you’ll kill a deer with your bow, but rather when you’ll kill a deer. It’s turning bowhunters soft and lazy. We are falling into the trap of relying too heavily on technology and not enough on hunting skill and woodsmanship.

The newest item being pushed to bowhunters today are blue tooth enabled arrow nocks! The nocks are the end of the arrow that attach to your bow string for my non-bowhunting friends. The idea is that you can track the arrow after it’s shot into game by a blue tooth feature on your smart phone and uploading an app – it’s this sort of thing that drives me crazy when it comes to hunting. I get the thought behind it, being that more game will be recovered after a shot or being able to locate your arrow. But, it opens up all sorts of possibilities for hunters to take marginal shots and to not practice good judgment and it chips away at the hunters’ skill.

People always want to take the easiest route, to find the short cuts. Bowhunters are no different, but what we as bowhunters don’t realize is this: if we continue to march along the path of least resistance and always seek out things to make bowhunting easier, to make it less challenging. If we always turn to technology like over the top crossbows, unreliable expandable broadheads, lighted nocks, scent control clothing, laser range finders, etc., we will lose our archery only hunting seasons. Deer season will become just that, DEER season with no respect to the type of weapons used or choice of hunting. Just a wide open deer season. I for one would hate to see that, but if bowhunters don’t finally draw a line in the sand when it comes to technology, it will happen and likely sooner than many of my fellow hunters believe.

– David Hewitt