Fair Chase, Or Is It?

Kids Outdoor Outpost February 2018

Joe Schuster | February 1, 2018

With two of my sons home on leave from the U.S. Army over the holidays, we spent a significant amount of time in the woods with our bows.

To a great delight, my son Jared and I both arrowed deer. It was awesome to dress and drag these deer out, a true labor of love.

My other son, Jackson, drew and flew three times, but to no avail. Later we discovered that he was off on his yardage estimation on a couple of them.

I recently read an article on a some new bowhunting technology, an “auto-ranging” bow sight. It will automatically measure the distance to the target and provide a precise, angle-compensated distance with one lighted pin for the shot. It  claims to use a “silent button trigger mounted on the bow grip that lets the bowhunter range targets at rest or full draw, without movement.”

In addition, a light sensor that automatically makes sure the pin increases or decreases the brightness as needed. The lighted pin is only visible to the shooter. Sounds great, right?

Well they won’t come cheap. They’re going to be available in two models, for $799 and $999. But just how much technology should we use?

Up to the early 1900s, there were no laws that prevented over hunting. Elk, whitetail deer, turkey and other game were almost wiped out. President Theodore Roosevelt, a great outdoorsman, began a movement called “fair chase hunting.” It means the hunter must allow the animal a reasonable opportunity to elude him. If not, the hunt can never be fair chase.

Many hunters who use a bow or muzzleloader, which usually only offer one shot, enjoy the challenging aspect of fair chase. Sometimes, the greater the adversity or challenge, the greater the reward.

Certainly, technology has helped the bowhunter. Today’s bows now reduce after-shot vibration and have high-tech sights with lighted pins. There are carbon arrows, hand devices that allow an accurate release rather than relying on just your fingers, precisely made fletchings to increase the spin of the arrow and improved accuracy. Surgical steel broadheads provide incredibly super-sharp cutting surfaces.

There is carbon-based clothing to remove human scent combined with the latest pattern of camouflage. Lightweight climbing stands allow hunters to get 20 feet and more above the ground.

But how much is enough, and where do we draw the line at too much?

You know, the average bowhunter takes about 21 outings before shooting a deer. That’s a lot. But what would happen if you shot a deer every single time you went out? I can tell you—it would get boring.

There’s something about hunting. It’s the unknown, the possibilities, the what ifs and the maybes that draw us in.

And those possibilities are what drive us to go out seeking to put food on our tables, just as we have done for thousands of years.


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