by Jeremy Parish
I started hunting ducks with my Grandpa when I was ten. I had a cheap Ithaca 20 gauge single shot with an exposed hammer that I had to cock with a screwdriver because the handle had broken off. We used a duck skiff that my Grandpa made himself. We hunted over decoys that my Grandpa carved himself. As cold as it got (and it got effing cold), I don’t remember my Grandpa ever wearing more than a grease stained sweater with maybe a cheap nylon windbreaker if it was super cold.
A few years after that I started deer hunting with my Uncle. Months before deer season we would start scouting – there were no game cameras. We never threw out bait because that kind of thing was laughed at back then. We didn’t build heated tree houses with sliding windows – we would sit on a log or stump. Sometimes, and this is going to sound really weird, we would walk until we kicked up some deer and then actually stalk close enough for a shot (being careful to stay downwind because there was no scent block clothing). When we got a deer, we would haul it back under our own power. There were no ATVs. When I started bow hunting I had a recurve with no sights. I shot instinctively and compound bows were a new thing and too pricey for a kid.
Fast forward to 2017. Many duck hunters own shotguns that cost more than my Grandpa’s car. The boutique lanyard they keep their calls on cost more than all the calls my Grandpa ever owned in his life (most of the time he wouldn’t use a call). Guys use mechanized decoys that would have made him laugh.
Deer hunting is even worse. People don’t scout anymore – they set out trail cams. They’re too busy building insulated, heated tree condos so their tootsies don’t get cold to actually scout. Baiting is now widely accepted and guys cry if it’s prohibited in their area. Nobody hunts more than a hundred yards from where they can drive their ATV. If you lack skill (and the majority do) you go to Cabela’s and buy stuff to compensate. If you still can’t manage to shoot anything (sorry, harvest) you complain about the DNR and blame wolves.
There’s nothing wrong with technology, but there is a point where it starts replacing skill and encouraging an attitude of entitlement.
You bought all this goddamn stuff and now you are entitled to a huge rack. One of the weirder new developments are the legion of “sportsmen” who have all the stuff, plus a shiny new F-250 and a 2000 square foot “hunting cabin” who are now filling their diapers over the prospect of the DNR raising license fees a few bucks. I looked at some of my old hunting regulations – farthest back I had was 2006. The price for a gun deer license was $24 – the same as it is now.
Then again, that was before the DNR-planted Superwolves ate all the deer, so I guess you were getting more buck for your buck back then.