There’s been a debate raging in the world of hunting revolving around a small piece of flying tech—drones. The Federal Aviation Administration simply defines drones as unmanned aircraft systems. Of course, in the world of hunting, those unmanned aircraft systems include cameras with video capability to scout and track game. This single attribute seems to be the wedge driving pro-drone and anti-drone hunters further and further apart.
(While reading, keep in mind that the opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect the views of the author, Hunter Ed™, or Kalkomey Enterprises Inc. The intent of this article is to simply spur discussion.)
On one side of the debate are hunting purists, who stress the importance of “fair chase.” Those opposed to drones feel the robots could give some hunters an unfair advantage. If someone could afford it, what’s to stop a hunter from buying a whole fleet of drones to scout an area while hunting? To the hunter that enjoys spot and stalking, this could make the sport way too easy for those who are less passionate about “the chase.”
Hunters aren’t the only ones who could be cheated by drone use. Illinois State Sen. Julie Morrison told the Pantagraph that the use of drones isn’t “fair for hunters and fishers who are seriously into the sport, and it’s not fair for the animals that deserve a chance to escape.”
Morrison is one of many lawmakers gunning for drones in the world of hunting. She recently proposed legislation in Illinois that would make the use of drones while hunting a misdemeanor criminal charge. This is similar to a bill recently approved in Michigan, which prohibits hunters, and those wishing to harass hunters, from using drones in the field. This follows the trend started in Colorado, Montana, Alaska, and Saskatchewan, where legislators have banned the use of unmanned aircrafts to locate game.
Still not sure what to think about drones and hunting? Consider what outdoor enthusiast Mia Anstine had to say:
“When I'm asked about ‘hunting with drones,’ I often have to step back a bit to clarify the meaning. In most instances, the drones aren't used to hunt animals but rather scout or locate them. In my personal opinion, the use of drones in hunting should be similar to the ‘no-fly’ rules in the state of Colorado. A hunter should not be able to use the aerial camera for ‘X’ amount of days prior to the hunt. I'm not too excited about using cameras to locate animals during the event, but I AM excited about the awesome footage filmmakers and photographers are capturing with the use of drones.” - Mia Anstine
Drones: What Are They Good For?
Those who support the use of drones for hunting see the tiny unmanned aircrafts opening up a new world of possibilities for hunters. Rather than driving around scouting an area before hunting season, hunters can sit in one stationary location and send their drone out to survey the area for them. Drones also provide new perspective when observing nature: what your binoculars can’t see, a drone can. This simplification could make hunting seem more attractive to those who want to try the activity, but aren’t too keen on “getting their hands dirty.” It could also improve accessibility, allowing those who aren’t as mobile to join in on the fun.
Drone supporters also point out that hunting is no stranger to technology, with hunters using trail cameras, cell phone apps, and GPS devices to assist them. Keeping this in mind, drones can be seen as “just another piece of gear.”
What side of the fence are you on? Do you support the use of drones in hunting?
Whether you are pro-drone or anti-drone, we can all agree that the best kind of hunting is safe hunting. Stay safe and get certified through Hunter Ed™.