During the ramp-up period leading into the weeks before the opener of deer season, my electronic devices get a stiff workout. With archery season opening soon for whitetails, many of the bowhunting brethren are scattered out among the hills and hollers in search of big deer with shiny racks. And in doing so, the electronic airwaves pointing towards my antennae are full of images, attachments and status posts of grainy pictures from trail cameras showing what critters are roaming their hunting grounds.
Has technology replaced the art of scouting or has it added simply added a wonderful new element to the fold? I ask myself that question often and to be perfectly honest, I am on the fence.
During my bowhunting-crazed youth, my brother and I would spend countless hours during the preseason searching for clues as to what the season might offer. We searched for what foods nature was going to make available for the season opener and things like acorns and soft mast food sources were noted. We scoured the hills in search of game trails leading to and from the food sources and plans were drawn to move treestands, cut shooting lanes and of course, carve out more time for preseason scouting. Hours were logged sitting high on a ridge peering down on the new locations waiting and watching from a safe distance to see if our initial findings were worth dedicating those first few precious hunting hours once the season opening bell rang.
Collecting other valuable information from other hunters was not as easy as it is today. Back then, maybe you would overhear a conversation at the bow counter or at the diner that the oaks had hit up on the a particular mountain or that Farmer Brown had been seeing a dandy buck in his back fields in the cool of the evenings. But that information was deemed valuable and taken as a gift only to be shared with your closest and the most –trusted members in your hunting clan. The only social media tactics that were used back then was word of mouth and if you happened to be blessed with a trophy animal in a wood patch you had permission to hunt, you kept that little tidbit of information to yourself.
Today, with the aid of technology, trail cameras can be placed on the game trails over food sources and bedding areas to sit patiently in wait until movement triggers the device to snap a few images. Not only are trail cameras highly effective by saving the hunter precious time, they are an incredible way to get a snapshot of what is going on in the patch of woods without human interference. And although they don’t provide the thrill of watching the animals live and in person, they do provide hours of entertainment once the data is pulled and can be reviewed from the climate-controlled easy chair of your den. And perhaps because the data has been obtained so freely, many can’t help but to share it with all those linked in to their social media channels.
Regardless if you use technology to the fullest extent in preseason scouting or if you prefer to put boots on the ground making tracks, preseason scouting can be the most effective way to ensure success and to punch your tag.
For now, bowhunting brethren, keep sending those grainy pictures of trophy animals. I promise I won’t tell a soul that a trophy buck walks by your stand on Doc Petersen’s place every morning at 9am heading to the thicket next to the road. Your secret is safe with me– besides, you just posted him as your status update.