Outdoor Evolution: How Technology Has Changed Hunting, Fishing & Camping
Technological advances have streamlined and simplified many popular outdoor activities over the past couple decades. Many old school outdoorsmen argue that some innovations have taken the sport out of both the game and participants, but we believe advances in technology have created and expanded opportunities that were previously difficult for beginners to grasp. Let’s take a look at three popular outdoor activities:
The number of people over the age of 16 who hunt at least once a year has hovered around 14 million since 1996, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But the number of female hunters increased by 25 percent from 2006 and 2011. Part of this is due to programs like Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, now can now be found in 39 states. Technology has also expanded the demographic makeup of the typical hunter.
The first rangefinders, called telemeters, were invented by James Watt of Scotland in the late 1700s. The distance between two objects was determined manually by aligning two parallel reticles with an upright one through an eyepiece. Bushnell introduced the first laser rangefinders for golf in 1955. The company also pioneered the first hunting and shooting-specific laser rangefinders in the 1990s. Nikon, Leupold and Leica are also popular brands among hunters.
So-called “smart gun” technology instantly transforms beginning shooters into supreme marksmen. Tracking Point introduced its $20,000 smart gun in 2013. The video game-like scope on the rifle locks onto targets 500 yards away, ensuring a perfect shot every time, even for first-timers. This technology is out of the price range of most Americans, however. NPR reported in 2013 that Remington was in the process of making a more affordable version, but the venture ended before it got started.
Randy Howell, the 2014 Bassmaster Classic champion, called his final round at Lake Guntersville the best day of fishing in his life. The humble 11-time competitor in the Classic said his feat was “effortless,” and gave most of the credit to his high-tech Livingston Lures.
Electronic Baitfish Sound (EBS) technology is emitted from smart chips inside the lures. It creates sounds very similar to those small baitfish make to attract more bass, pike and other predatory species. Livingston’s Howeller, named after the aforementioned Classic champ, can now be had for under $20 each at select retailers.
The world is more connected than it’s ever been because of smartphones and Wi-Fi. Electronic devices have become extensions of the human body for many, which makes camping off the beaten path an unappealing option.
Portable solar chargers started gaining popularity in the mid-2000s when the smartphone explosion was happening. Goal Zero makes a variety of portable solar chargers that make staying connected out in the wilderness a reality. Apps such as Open Signal and Connection Stabilizer Booster not only help your phone locate the strongest Wi-Fi and phone signals, but automatically connect you while in remote areas.
Technology has made the outdoors more accessible and enjoyable to the masses. Traditionalists may balk at some innovations, but they cannot deny the impact.