Game Changer: Hunters Use Drones to Track Prey

Posted: Jan 10, 2014 2:50 PM

Tracking big game takes skill. Hunters must know the valleys and rivers and watch closely for fresh prints, droppings and tree rubbings. It takes time and patience before they can raise their scope and fire.

The latest gadget in hunting equipment could make the process a little less challenging.

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Drone usage is already infiltrating farming, real estate marketing, sports photography, wildlife research and highway monitoring. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also began selling the "Air Angel" drone to monitor hunters. So while hunters survey animals, PETA will be surveying the hunters. While this technological advancement is undoubtedly useful, should it really be used as hunting gear?

“We think it gives the hunter an unfair advantage,” said Backcountry Hunters & Anglers spokesman Tim Brass.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has proposed new bans on drones to game managers across the West.

“As the technology progresses you’re ow able to locate animals without having to walk and work for them. That effort and skill makes hunting what it is,” said Brass.

Drones in hunting is an issue that’s being tackled across the U.S. In Massachusetts PETA activists use drones to record videos of hunters in the field saying they’re trying to keep hunters honest. Colorado law calls that surveillance harassment.

Wildlife officials do worry about the use of drones because it could change the nature of the chase.

“Our goal is to make sure that the harvest of animals is done in an ethical fashion. That we’re not seeing people get out there and do things that are crossing the line,” said Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

Drones are everywhere. In December 2013, announced a controversial plan to have drones deliver packages door to door.

The federal Airborne Hunting Act prohibits tracking and shooting animals via aircraft. However, it does not directly apply to drone usage. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to vote on whether or not to ban the practice of hunting with drones Friday.

It was a knowledge of the land, strategy, gunmanship and a bit of luck that allowed my uncle to take down the 8th heaviest bear ever recorded at 733 pounds. Frankly, I hope I never walk into a Cabela's store and see drones lining the shelves.

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