I just heard an amazing and almost unbelievable stat: in 20 years every person in the world will have a “pet drone” or at least access to a drone, just like everybody now has a cell phone.
What will the billions of drones in the sky mean for our hunting? Is there any place for a drone in the deer woods? As the technology advances and drones become cheaper and easier to use and fly, it is inevitable that people will find a way to use them for all activities, including hunting.
People already have. State troopers and wildlife cops in Alaska are aware of at least one drone-assisted moose kill, back in 2012.
Other than shooting cool footage for personal video or a TV show (more on that later) I can’t think of any good use for a drone in the woods. It would certainly not be ethical to fly a drone over the fields/woods where you hunt, scouting from the air and sizing up buck racks, or looking for funnels where bucks walk, and then moving in on the ground with a stand for an ambush.
Some guy said to me once, “But is it really any different than setting out a trail camera to find bucks on your property, especially one that can send images and HD video back to your cell phone?”
I got his point…and I didn’t really have a good comeback for it.
States are getting out ahead of the potential drones-for-hunting issues. Alaska was the first state to prohibit hunters from spotting game with drones. I expect all states to follow suit with specific restrictions on drones for hunting.
Just yesterday, the National Park Service announced that it is taking steps to ban drones from 84 million acres of public lands to keep the unmanned aircraft from harassing wildlife and annoying visitors.
But one group is embracing the use of drones. PETA sells its “Air Angel” drones and purportedly encourages its members to fly them around and monitor (I say harass) hunters on public lands. In response to that, more than one hunter has said: Fly that damn thing over me and I’ll shoot it down. I get it, but this opens another can of worms.
As mentioned, one good use of a drone is to get killer video of landscapes, terrain and hunters walking around and glassing, etc. But even this brings potential problems. Several years ago, one of my TV producers alerted the game wardens in an area that our crew would be out there, flying a drone with a camera attached to it to get footage. We would not use it to scout or find and hunt the deer, just to film general shots in the middle of the day.
That was back in the day when a drone was big size-wise, and a novelty. One evening, the warden in the area pulled up to the property where I was hunting and confronted my friend as he waited to pick me up. “Where is Hanback, I hear he is using a helicopter to hunt, I want to talk to him.” He roared off, p—-d, and said he’d be back. He never tracked me down, I’m glad. But we flew the drone on private land, and got good footage.
We’ve used drones on and off the last few years on TV hunts, and we’ve got a new one for this fall. The prices have really come down, and the cameras on the drones are greatly improved. You can get a drone on Amazon for around $360 and shoot video of all your outdoor activities. But do not use it to scout or hunt deer.
Lost in all of this is the actual hunt—the calm and solitude of the woods on a crisp fall morning, the connection to nature, the way you think and reflect as you sit in a tree stand and wait on a buck, the way your heart jumps when you see him… Who wants to think about a billion drones buzzing overhead, watching, monitoring our every move…
Weird, but they say those days are coming? What do you think?
I agree with what everyone has said about drones not being used for hunting or scouting. One good use I could think of would be catching trespassers on your land. If you could fly a drone over-head to figure out what part of your property they were on, your odds of catching them would greatly increase. If your pictures were good enough, you might also be able to recognize the trespassers. Or, post a no trespassing sign saying that drones are patrolling the property. Where I hunt along the Mississippi, a drone would come in handy also to check out the flooding. Sometimes we don’t know if our food plots were above or under water due to no access because of water or super muddy roads.
Fine line between getting footage for your show and scouting. Leave the thing at home and do what you’ve done for years, put out quality hunting shows that are done ethically. The drones have absolutely no place in anything involving hunting. I put the real time cameras in the same category as the drones, they ought to be outlawed.
To me it is no different than flying a plane over to scout. Count me out! I do set out cameras. but those are mainly to find out if a good buck lives there. I pull and move cameras to other areas so patterning them is still done the old fashioned way……footwork and scouting. Not that it’s better than other ways. I just love the hands on parts of trying to put the puzzle together. Ne drones for me and I hope for any state. It’s hunting…..not spyshooting!
I saw one in use this weekend at a beach wedding I was a part of. Interesting, but I agree that outside of capturing some neat fill footage, it has no place in the woods.
That’s a good call by the NPS service to ban them on public lands. Anyone who has ever seen the traffic jam in Yellowstone caused by just a glimpse of a bear will understand this. Can you imagine thousands of tourists (seems to be a lot of International visitors too) standing alongside the road as they fly their drones over a grizzly and her cubs, or a bachelor group of bull elk?
I think this is one technology that the regulations had better get out in front of quickly because of the capability for misuse. I think wildlife agencies had better begin anticipating problems sooner with our increasing rate of technology and the speed at which it is being assimilated into popular culture.
Years ago we scouted for sign and tried to figure out which way the deer were moving and we would set up our stands hoping to see the deer making the rubs, scrapes and leaving the tracks and hope to maybe get a shot.
Flash forward to not so many years ago and game cameras became the norm. People would get tons of images (or pics with film cameras) and try to get a good idea of what was roaming the woods and fields. While not a fan of those cameras, I figured that people checking them all the time would push many older deer into becoming more nocturnal and/or bump them around. Either way, I didn’t use them.
Today we are into a whole different ball game. People are running cameras 24/7/365. They not only know what is roaming the woods and fields, they know when and where in “real time”. I know of one guy who was sitting on a stand on a farm last season and received a call to his phone. One of his cameras had captured an image of a deer on his “hit list” (which is a term I don’t care for). He immediately moved to a stand near that camera and killed the deer. In cases like this, I think cameras provide an unfair advantage to the hunter and violate the principles of fair chase.
And now we are going to introduce drones?
I don’t have a problem with running cameras during the off season, but I think all cameras, and especially the cameras that notify you in “real time” shouldn’t be legal to use during deer season. After all, are we hunting deer or “shopping” for deer?
And drones? I don’t see how any hunter who is remotely concerned with fair chase could even think about using them to hunt deer and I hope the DNRs in every state step in and ban them.
And if hunters do start to use them…..well, it won’t leave much room to b*tch when PETA tries to use them against us.