As part of Generation-Y – a cohort epitomized by auto-embrace of technology – the social pressure to accept anything new as inherently good is always there, whether I like it or not. In many ways, my embrace for computer-based technology is not far behind my peers’. Yes, I finally broke down and got a ‘smart phone’. However, when it comes to outdoor recreation, there’s something to be said for sticking with a rotary phone and land line.
Sure, it’s easier to reel in a fish with a battery powered reel, or to attract ducks with a flock of robotic decoys, but when the activity becomes performed by something else, we ought to ask ourselves what is lost? As famously put by Jose Ortega y Gasset, "One kills in order to have hunted.” In other words, the means is more important than the end. Thus we must ask ourselves, in what way are we still partaking in the means if a fish is located by sonar, verified by aqua camera, then retrieved by a battery-powered reel? OK, I’ll be fair; operating boat motor to get to the fish counts, right?
I am not alone in sharing that my most rewarding hunting and fishing trips were those which involved beating the odds with minimal gear, human craft, ingenuity and persistence. While some folks are willing to accept the rapid mechanization and technologization of hunting and angling, the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers will not. It’s up to us to decide where we draw the line – do we really want be hunting and competing next to a guy with a fourteen hundred dollar robotic deer decoy? It’s refreshing to see a growing acknowledgement amongst sportsmen young and old committed to having a conversation about what constitutes fair chase. And as technology continues to evolve a rapid pace, it will be crucial that this conversation continues, as it is becoming clear that portions of the industry will not self-regulate.