Is There A Remote Control Camera Controversy Brewing?

In the most recent issue of Outdoor News there was a commentary article by David Larson who suggests that maybe it’s time that remote controlled game cameras be regulated in Minnesota.   He contends that their use constitutes unfair chase, considering that many deer during the fall season fall into a pattern and these cameras can be used as a tool to substantially increase a hunter’s chances.

Does this smack a bit of a brewing spinning wing decoy-like controversy?   Is technology such as this really all that bad?   Should a hunter who spends $200 on a fun new toy feel guilty of a device that mostly helps to build anticipation for the upcoming season?

If you read the article you will see that Mr. Larson and his hunting partner witnessed another hunter travel past them only to make a shot in the woods a short time later.   As a result, the Johnny-come-lately hunter ended up shooting a nice 10-pt buck after a short time spent in the woods.   They then witnessed him carry something out of the woods in a burlap bag, although they have no concrete evidence as to what the bag might have contained.

Later on as they related their story to hunting buddies they all began to speculate that it must have been a game camera hidden in that bag he was removing from the woods.   To this group it seems as though a game camera is the only plausible explanation as to why this “lucky” hunter could have pulled off the stunt with such efficiency.

Okay, I have some big problems with Mr. Larson’s derogatory remarks about the use of an infrared game camera.   To me it seems as though he has a bucket full of sour grapes having missed out on the opportunity of a nice buck, so he vents his anger toward regulating a device that may or may not have been used.   He forgets the fact that sometimes in deer hunting it is better to be lucky, than it is to be savvy with deer knowledge…and this is particularly true during the silly season we know as the rut.

As deer hunters, when we fail to achieve our objective of bagging a nice deer we always turn to searching for an excuse.   If you’ve read my blog you will know I am just as famous for this as the next guy.   Still, I don’t advocate the regulation of a device without any solid evidence that a game camera may have been used.   And even so, who is to say that a game camera used by a hunter for scouting constitutes unfair chase?  Why stop there…maybe a GPS unit, maybe a digital rangefinder, and maybe artificial game calls should all be banned.   Each device could be considered a tool to help aid a hunter gain greater success over a hunter who chooses not to use one.   Where do you draw the line?

I happen to believe that the individual sportsman must make those ethical decisions himself.   If Mr. Larson doesn’t feel the use of a camera is fair, then I suggest he not use one when he is hunting.   He crosses the line; however, when he suggests that maybe I shouldn’t be using one as part of my hunting preparation.   Even with the use of a camera there is no guarantee that a deer is such a creature of habit that it will react exactly the way I have patterned it with a camera.   Moreover, that camera can tell me if there is even a buck in the area where I hunt.   After all, if you are a gun hunter and you only have 2-days in Zone 4 to hunt…you need to use this sort of tool to maximize your hunting opportunities.

Perhaps Mr. Larson needs to better suck it up and accept the fact that someone hunting in the same area had his lucky day.   Had that been me hunting near Mr. Larson, one of the last things I would have wanted to hear him suggest to me was that my prize buck was taken under rules of unfair chase.   This holds true even if I had used a camera.

I certainly hope that this commentary doesn’t spark a new controversy over the use of these game cameras.   I find it hard to imagine that these cameras can be used in some illegal or unethical manner that needs to have regulatory control.   As far as I’m concerned, the hunting rules (or synopsis) is already thick enough with rules and regulations that control many of the ways we conduct ourselves outdoors.   We can live without a regulation telling us that snapping a few pictures of deer before the hunting season arrives is worthy of a citation.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.