Have We Become Too Technology Oriented In The Outdoors?

Let me make a full disclosure…when it comes to gadgets and technology it is one of my guilty pleasures in life.   Digital range finders, GPS mapping, electronic calling devices, digital trail cameras…of course, the list could go on and on.   All fun stuff, right?   Well, sure it is.   Unless you are some devout purist who somehow resists the temptation of merging a 21st Century lifestyle with a century’s old outdoor sporting activity.   Although some folks do, I happen to not be one of them.

Well, I may have finally stumbled upon a product that finally crosses the line for me.   Seriously, a lot of products I’ve seen leave me shaking my head, but the concept behind this one sort of strikes a nerve.   Not that it’s anything outrageously bad, mind you, rather I just find this use of technology to be slightly disturbing.

When I first grew to appreciate the outdoors I did so as a trapper.   Now, let’s face it…what outdoor sport has more heritage and participants practicing an ancient wildlife activity than trapping?   I dare say even though traps have evolved in design over the past century, much of it has been rather cosmetic in nature.   Essentially traps used by my grandfather are pretty much the same ones as in use by me today.

That is until this new trapping gadget came along.Tele-Trap_v2_med

Imagine you set a trap for a wild critter and you no longer need to check it.   That’s right…basically you set it and forget it, until…<RING, RING> you get a call on your cell phone informing you that an animal has likely been captured by your trap.   A new device has been developed by Wildlife Control Supplies called the Tele-Trap Notifier incorporating wireless cell phone technology into its design.   Once an animal is trapped the unit will dial any number you program…it will even perform a follow-up call five minutes later just to make sure the user is paying attention.

As part of the alert it will tell you where the trap is located as well as a name.   I would have hoped it would also take a picture and include that information as part of the message, but apparently that feature has not yet been developed, but believe me it will be coming.

We first discovered these remote notifying devices a few years ago with the popular BuckEye Cam which would send trail cam pictures directly to a computer.   It seems only logical how cell phone technology can be incorporated into existing products in so many ways — some perhaps good, others…well, you decide.

Now let’s be fair about this.   The Tele-Notifier is a device developed in conjunction with the University of Nebraska and intended for use by professional wildlife control personnel.   At $350 per unit you won’t find these out on the traditional trapline.   Nope, instead, look for these to be put in use by companies that do private wildlife control in urban areas where knowing an animal has been captured can save time, money and perhaps even further justify the homeowner’s expense for the services.

Believe me, I’m not knocking the device as I think the concept behind it is interesting.   Still, I have to pause and wonder just a bit where such technological use could potentially take us.   Right now most states require trappers to tend their traps regularly as prescribed by law.   Could the day come when a recreational trapper simply sets his/her trapline and then chooses to sit at home in the easy chair waiting for success to call?

There comes a time in our outdoor sporting life when we all must ask ourselves where does the technological line get drawn.   Simply because a device or gadget is developed doesn’t make it necessarily right for our general use in the outdoors.   The further we gravitate toward technology the more we lose touch with each of the instinctive and deeply human pleasures associated with appreciating the outdoors.

Personally, I don’t need a phone call to announce my success as a trapper.   After all, I can’t imagine it to be anywhere near as exciting as walking up to a trap and discovering it first-hand with one’s own eyes, incidentally the same way trappers have been doing it for well over three centuries.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.