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Hunting with Drones and Hunting Ethics

A new trend in hunting is using drones to locate game. Apparently drones are a fast growing product on the market and are raising feathers and hackles nationwide in hunting country.

My first thought was, "are you kidding me?" Apparently not, and wildlife managers are really drawing a bead on this trend. Idaho has already outlawed it; Colorado is considering banning drones and other states are likely not far behind.

It seems that many outfitters are already using drones to locate game, shortening the time their paying clients spend hoofing it on the trail.

Opponents state it provides the hunter with an unfair advantage and are calling for a ban, especially during hunting season. Many cite fair chase and fair opportunity are being denied, while wildlife management declare the drones distract game from eating, but add they will continue to use drones themselves for game surveys. I don’t believe game is going to know the difference between who is behind the drones when their lunch is distracted.

As most hunters already know other technology has already been banned in some areas of the country such as some electronic callers, lights and laser lights for example. A good rule of thumb is to check hunting rules and regulations in any area you plan to hunt as an informed hunter breaks no laws mistakenly.

When we speak of drones what comes to mind are those such as the military use, correct? In the initial investigation of drones-used-for-hunting those apparently in use are of the size you can buy your child in any hobby or toy outlet. They are called remote controlled aircraft. So no, we aren't speaking of drones armed with sniper rifles.

Besides the mischievous kid next door who loves buzzing you with his remote controlled aircraft planes, most remote controlled aircraft owners are hobbyists. A small number of ‘preppers’ have them for property surveillance. With their very limited flying time (a recent shopping trip found only one drone capable of flying anywhere near an hour. The remainder was limited to 7- 30 minutes) I don’t even see how hunters are using them to accomplish very much game location but apparently it is being done.

So really what is the objection to using remote aircraft to locate game? It’s all about hunter’s ethics.

Most hunters feel skill and experience should be earned. Traditional hunters learn to look for scat, hair, broken twigs, gouged bark and tracks. They follow ‘sign’ to the source, or freeze their buns off sitting in a blind. Hunters ethics guide almost all hunters, and most of them feel that drones violate those ethics.

Another reason to keep drones out of hunting lands is safety. At first thought I can envision a hunter crossing a wooded trail just as a low flying remote aircraft smacks him in the head. That is because the tree canopy will dictate the height of flying in wooded areas. The next hazard I can foresee is a crashed aircraft initiating a forest fire when batteries spark. The third hazard that comes to mind are other hunters getting angry when remote aircraft disturbs game in their sights. There are no guarantees a hunter with an aircraft won’t aggravate a fellow hunter just for fun and it can result in dire consequences.

I can’t speak for you, but I don’t aggravate anyone with a gun. You have to stop and think before you act, and unfortunately many people today don’t.

American methods of traditional hunting are to a large extent unchanged from their grandfather’s day. A hunter takes pride in bringing home the meat. Many hunters (especially in the south) actually eat the meat they earn. Nationwide, those who do not predominately donate it to food banks, jails, homeless shelters and needy families.

To the American hunter game are the masters of the wild and are respected as such. The hunter’s ethics require a person to take responsibility and fairness to heart. The most likely scenario regarding the use of drones/remote aircraft to locate game will be banning from the hunt nationwide. As to those hunters who use drones, I suspect they will find their circle of hunting buddies narrowed.

Hunters are overall a special breed who takes their ethics seriously in the effort to protect the future of hunting. Perhaps already the folly of using drones is becoming apparent. In talking with a fellow hunter of the trend towards drones he cracked a big smile and told me a story. A few weeks ago his brother-in-law (let’s call him Bob) from another state came to visit and went hunting with some friends. While they sat in tree stands Bob climbed down, and bragged he would find the game. He ventured down a trail and out of site with his new $2,500 hunting gun with him.

An hour passed and Bob had not returned. Another half-hour passed and still no Bob. They all agreed big city Bob was likely lost in the woods. Cell service was actually fairly decent and they called Bob on his cell, fearing he was injured and unable to call them.

Bob answered right away, “No, I’m not lost. But I have lost my gun and can’t find it.”

Bob knew where he had been standing when he flew his aircraft (candy wrappers, a coke bottle all confirmed it as well as his lack of hunters ethics). There were boot tracks on a trail leading right up to where he had propped his gun to fly his aircraft. While he concentrated on flying, someone had walked right up and took his new gun.

Arriving at their trucks lying across the hood was Bob’s gun and a note under the wipers that read, “Any geek with a chopper used to cheat game from a chance has no business with a gun. Let this be a lesson to you.”

Remote aircraft are not yet a staple in any gun shops online or not. There are undoubtedly a few hunters who will embrace their use, but overall hunters appear to be on the side of wildlife management. I can almost guarantee you the game are rooting for the game wardens opinion.

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