The invention of trail cameras changed the game, but the introduction of wireless/cellular technology took hunting intel to a whole new level. And with it came a whole new set of questions, concerns, and criticism.
Nothing’s better than waking up to photos of several shooters walking through your honey hole, sent directly to your cell just a few weeks before archery season starts.
But what about other hunters who sit by the phone, waiting to see a big buck go by their camera so they can hightail it to their stand?
Cellular trail cameras can be another great pre-season scouting tool, or they can be manipulated to give hunters an unfair advantage.
Using them in the off-season to minimize foot traffic while taking inventory of deer in the area is perfectly ethical — and incredibly convenient.
But using cellular trail cams to get real-time updates from your hunting spots so you can rush out there when bucks are nearby is not fair chase and just plain cheating.
The Pope and Young Club agrees, according to their most recent position statement on the technology:
“The Pope and Young Club, historically, has not viewed the use of trail cameras as a violation of the Rules of Fair Chase.
“With the invention of wireless trail cameras, as well as other devices that can send real time data to a hunter, all hunters need to consider how the use of these devices may affect fair chase. While the use of a wireless trail camera is not automatically a violation of the Rules of Fair Chase, using this technology to deliver real time location data of the animal being hunted would be a violation of rule #7 of our Rules of Fair Chase.
“For clarification, if you receive a wireless image (photo, video, GPS coordinate, etc.) and it elicits an immediate (real time) response that guides the hunter to the animal, it would be considered a violation of the Rules of Fair Chase and prohibit that animal from being eligible for entry into the Pope and Young Club’s Records Program. Fair Chase is defined as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit of free-ranging wild game animals in a manner which does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the animal.”
Regulations surrounding the use of cellular trail cameras continue to evolve, with some state agencies banning them for hunting — and others outlawing trail cameras in season altogether.
So stick to using cellular trail cameras legally, ethically, and out of season only rather than rigging the game.