Monday, November 2, 2020

Game Cameras, Laws Rules and the Ethics of Fair Chase

For the sportsman who regularly uses game cameras, to track the movements of deer and other game animals, there is no arguing that they are extremely effective tools. Proper positioning and use of these devices have over the years put me in front of deer time and time again. As deer tend to be creatures of habit, frequently their movements can be predictable. It certainly isn’t an exact science, however, these devices can take the guess work out of when to hunt and when not to hunt a particular location. A few years ago, I noted that a large doe was walking through a section of my property in the afternoon around 5-6:00 pm about every two to three days. The camera showed no sign of the deer moving through at any other time other than this narrow window. Positioning my climbing stand in a tree about 20 yards from this thoroughfare, I was not entirely surprised when the doe walked right past my stand at 5:45 pm on the second day of my sit. 

When hunting with youth hunters, many of whom lack the ability to sit for more than a few hours, game cameras become invaluable. Why sit in a stand in the morning, if the deer are only being seen on camera in the evening or vice versa. If deer are only coming through at 9:00 am why get up at the crack of dawn and sit for hours in the cold. Using modern game cameras to precisely pinpoint deer movements really allows hunters the ability to put deer in the crosshairs much more effectively than any previous scouting technology.

Remotely Monitored Game Cameras

One of the biggest advances in game cameras has occurred over the last few years with the invention of remotely monitored game cameras. These devices allow sportsman to receive instant notification to their cell phone when the camera is triggered. Hunters no longer have to disrupt an area with scent or sound to alert deer or other game animals to their presence. Instead, camera settings can be changed, battery life monitored and photographs received in real-time from the comfort of your easy chair. While this “real time” data, can provide a distinct advantage for sportsmen, some states are making the use of these devices illegal for hunting.

Laws, Other States

Some state lawmakers believe game cameras give hunters an unfair advantage. The state of Montana, for example, has made scouting camera use illegal during the hunting season. A Montana wildlife law enforcement official confirmed that the driving force behind the law was “for fair chase reasons, not game management reasons.” And, their regulations state the following: “It is illegal for a person to possess or use in the field any electronic or camera device whose purpose is to scout the location of game animals or relay the information on a game animal’s location or movement during any Commission-adopted hunting season.”

Fair Chase and Ethics

Probably no one spends more time on deciding what is fair chase and what is not than the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club. According to the presidents of both B&C and P&Y, neither have any issue with the use of traditional trail cameras that require hunters to visit the camera site to retrieve data cards or film (as far as fair chase goes). But, both oppose the use of cameras that transmit images directly to a location where they may be viewed by a hunter. Animals taken with the use of a direct transmit camera are not eligible for inclusion in their record books. B&C provided this statement: “Trophies taken with the use of trail cameras, including scouting, are eligible for entry in B&C, but only if the hunter has to manually remove film and/or a card from the trail camera itself to retrieve the images. Trophies taken with the use of trail cameras, including scouting, that transmit images to a computer/base station for viewing are not eligible for entry in B&C.”

High Tech Remotely Monitored Game Cameras

No question, properly used, game cameras put more deer on the ground. A sportsman’s chances of success increase even more dramatically, when hunters employ the use of some of the latest remotely monitored game camera technology. The CreativeXP 3G Cellular Trail Camera ($299.27 on Amazon) ranks as one of the highest rated remote game cameras on the market. The camera operates on the AT&T data network and provides a data plan allowing 1,500 photos for only $8.00. 

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