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Author: Mike Schoby
Maximize your time afield this season with a little help from the 21st century.
It is a fact that pre-season scouting is an integral part of big game hunting. It is well known that those who put in the time before the deer season have better, more consistent success than those that don't. These hunters see more deer; they see bigger deer and more often than not, kill bigger deer.
However, herein lies the rub; who has the time to scout as thoroughly as they should? Unlike many of our forefathers who worked in a rural setting and essentially scouted everyday during the course of making their living, many of today's hunters are confined to a desk, four walls and maybe if they are lucky, a window to absentmindedly peer through, hoping a buck may stumble through their office's parking lot. Like it or not many hunters today pine for the woods, but the realities of life; family, job, mortgage, little league practice and yard work keep them from doing as much hunting, let alone scouting as they would like.
While hunting is a means to a simpler way of life, that does not mean that we have to completely turn our back on the tools of the modern world. Used correctly there are several high-tech products available to get the most out of scouting and hunting. Using modern tools to help maximize your time afield is not only productive, it is just smart hunting. To be more successful this season, check out what the modern world has to offer.
Probably the best invention for modern day hunters looking for more scouting time, is a game camera. Boiled down to their essence, game cameras are cameras that can be remotely placed in your area. They are triggered by motion, automatically reset after each shot and will shoot multiple images until either they run out of film, or in the case of digital, until their memory is full. A few years ago, hunters had only a couple of models of game cameras to choose from but with more and more hunters realizing their benefits and technology pushing the usable envelope all the time, there are now dozens of different models to choose from. While the advantages of having a pair of eyes watching your hunting area around the clock is obvious, what is not so lucid is what separates the different models from each other.
Digital vs. Film
The main difference between most of the cameras today is the image format. Traditionally, all game cameras used 35mm film. The advantage to 35 mm is that it takes sharp images, can be used in low light (with high-speed film), is relatively cheap and film can be found virtually anywhere. However, in the last couple of years digital technology has gotten markedly better. The images are sharper, the battery life is longer, the memory cards hold more images and the price has come down significantly. When used for game camera purposes a very strong case can be made for digitals. For example, while digital is often more expensive initially, it is cheaper in the long run due to the lack of film and processing. Likewise, if you have a series of bad shots (such as a limb blowing in front of the motion sensor) they can be easily discarded with no cost involved. Another nice feature of some digital cameras is their lack of flash, instead utilizing Infra- Red light waves to take images at night.
Click this link to check out a complete listing of game cameras.
While many hunters look at a GPS as a means of not getting lost, these units can also be used as a valuable scouting tools. Many GPS units are compatible with computer mapping software that allows you to identify travel corridors, feeding zones, ridges and bedding areas. Once these areas are located, it is a simple matter to program their locations into a GPS. On you're next scouting trip, instead of wandering around aimlessly looking for "good spots", you can walk directly to them, look for fresh sign and quickly eliminate all the non-producing areas.
Click this link to check out a complete listing of GPS units carried by Cabela's.
Binoculars and spotting scopes are one of the original scouting tools that most serious hunter do not head afield without. Often times, the only way to scout an area without spooking the game residing there is from a distance. For many, glassing a crop field in the evening is the best bet for seeing the size and amount of whitetails in an area. Binoculars help in this task immensely. Some may ask what is so high tech about binoculars - they have been around for over 100 years. In one sense they're right, but that is only part of the picture. Binoculars today, while looking similar in shape and function to those of your father's are about as high tech as it gets. Precision cut prisms, coated optics, nitrogen filled tubes (making them water and fog proof) puts these items on the top of every high tech gadget junkies list. In addition to the features crammed in every quality set of binoculars, there are even new models out there that have built in image stabilization devices, making the image you see appear sharper and steadier for longer viewing. Other models not only give the range but capture a digital image for later viewing around camp.
Click this link to view a complete selection of optics carried at Cabelas's.
Another high-tech tool that can come in handy both for scouting and hunting is a laser range finder. After scouting out an area and locating a good spot to hang a stand, laser range finders come in very handy to pre-measure distance to obvious objects around the stand. Come opening morning you already have a good base line established concerning distance. Another great use for laser range finders is teaching yourself how to quick estimate range during the off season. a half an hour or so a day for a couple of weeks before season, guessing distances (and confirming them with the laser rangefinder) around your neighborhood while walking the dog will prove invaluable.
As you can see, hunting has gone high tech. But this is not always a bad thing. It is not a matter of needing high-tech equipment to be successful afield as it is utilizing high technology to make our experiences afield more productive and enjoyable, for the brief moments in time when we are allowed to escape the high tech world we live in every day.
Click this link to view a complete selection of rangefinders that Cabela's carries.