Over the past four years, several western states have enacted regulations against the use of trail cameras, primarily cameras capable of transmitting data instantaneously, for use in harvesting wildlife. The new laws are actually supported by most hunters and are based on the concept of fair hunting.
The constantly changing technology, whether in the hunting or fishing industry, and the falling prices associated with owning a hunting camera that will allow you to see in real time what is happening in your wood straight from your couch, or a fish finder that instantly shows what’s going on all over the place around your boat, start to violate the ethical concept of what’s right for the animal.
Arizona was the first state to enter the trail camera ban arena, citing “…new or evolving technologies and practices that give hunters or anglers an undue or unfair advantage in pursuit and taking of wild animals, or may create a public perception of an undue or unfair advantage”.
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Total ban in Arizona, Nevada; no wireless, cellular in some others
Nevada and Arizona are the only states to completely ban the use of trail cameras for hunting purposes. Montana, Utah, Kansas, New Hampshire and Alaska have partial bans, prohibiting the use of wireless or cellular cameras during the season.
On public hunting lands in the western United States, where water sources are critical for big game, it’s not uncommon for several hunters to have cameras set up to view the action. There have also been rumors of trail camera owners selling coordinates of large elk, mule deer and moose.
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As a result, Utah not only recently banned track cameras during the season, but made it illegal to “sell or buy track camera footage or data to take, attempt to take, or assist in taking or attempt to take big game. ”
In Ohio, it’s all about assessment, adaptation to goals
It’s a different story in Ohio, however, and according to District 3 Wildlife Division Manager Scott Angelo, there has been no discussion of enacting sound trail camera regulations. organization.
“We don’t have an official position…but in our line of work, with ever-changing technology, we need to assess and understand how this fits into what our (goals) look like,” Angelo said. .
Angelo said that’s exactly what the state did years ago when it looked at the facts and decided to allow deer hunting with certain straight-wall shotguns.
So, while Ohio isn’t even planning to discuss CCTV regulations, what do some of the pros think? While last month at the Northeast Ohio Sportsman Show in Mount Hope, I posed this question to some of the show’s fighter seminar speakers.
David Hershberger of Hillcrest Lumber in Apple Creek, who often talks about how to manage your antlers for whitetail deer and antlers, admittedly said that’s a tough question to answer.
“Once you have (surveillance cameras) it’s hard to stop”
“I’m anti-regulation and I think it should be an individual choice,” Hershberger said. “But I can see where we would have more fun and spend more time in the woods if we didn’t have (cell) surveillance cameras.
“But,” he continued, “once you have them, it’s hard to stop.”
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Hershberger admitted that trail cameras are great fun, can be educational, and show you more than just deer. But, he said, there’s some value in doing it the old-fashioned way, and not just setting up a camera, throwing in a bunch of corn and calling it a hunt.
The fun part of a trail cam is watching a buck grow over the years, noting the interaction between family groups, seeing how your land management, food plots, and hard work pay off.
The question is, are live surveillance cameras being used for all the wrong reasons during hunting season?
Fred Abbas, who along with his son, Greg, owns Away Hunting Products in Beaverton, Michigan, was quick to say he was against cell surveillance cameras.
“I think we should ban cameras attached to each other,” Abbas said. “I think they’re unethical and I’ve always felt that way about these kinds of cameras. I think we’re going to see a lot more states ban them.
He prefers a compass and “old-fashioned wood art”
Maine hunting guide Randy Flannery is a throwback to old times, and in his business he favors maps, a compass and “old-fashioned skills” before relying on a hunting camera.
“I don’t even let my guides set up a trail camera until I’ve spent at least a week in the woods,” Flannery said. “I think we should use the skills taught before the technology.”
Flannery fears that the proven hunting skills of the past will not be passed on to the next generation of hunters, who will instead use the technology to kill their big buck, moose or elk.
We’re heading down a slippery slope, where we’ve become obsessed with a trophy and drifted away from the fun of the hunt – whether it’s for white-tailed deer in Wayne County or a walleye on Lake Erie. In Ohio, it’s an individual choice of how much technology and how you use that technology, to fill your beacons or get your limits. But as we have seen in the West, there may be a day…
Outside Correspondent Art Holden can be reached at [email protected]