Hunting: A Modern-Day, High-Tech Family Tradition | Outdoor Channel
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Hunting: A Modern-Day, High-Tech Family Tradition

By: Lynn Burkhead,

Every year come fall hunting seasons, groups of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents, friends and everyone in-between get together across this great country of ours to take part in a time-honored tradition.

Plans are made far in advance and you can bet the season opener is clearly marked on their calendars – their smartphone calendars, that is.

What makes the age-old tradition a bit more contemporary is the high-tech apparel and gear that is a part of the process these days. From infrared trail cameras to waterproof, windproof clothing with digitally enhanced camouflage patterns to laser range-finding binoculars, high-tech products have certainly impacted the way that people hunt.

But most of these hunting families – including the Drury family and the Holder family – are quite happy to mix the old and the new, all for the sake of quality time together in the woods.

"Absolutely, 100 percent," said Mark Drury, who along with his brother Terry and their children, have turned a cutting-edge call-making operation into a virtual empire of outdoors television shows on Outdoor Channel, including Drury’s THIRTEEN, Dream Season: The Journey and Bow Madness, that entertain and educate hunters.

"Like I always have, I still enjoy spending time with my family hunting each year, now as much as ever," added Drury. "Even after all of these years together, I still look as forward to our next hunt together as I did the last one we went on."

David Holder, co-host of Outdoors Channel's Raised Hunting show along with his wife Karin, readily admits that high-tech gear has impacted hunting, although it hasn't done much to change the reason that he and his family go outdoors.

"I think that as far as the hunting gear itself goes, we would all be doing what we do, with or without it," said Holder. "In some instances, it makes us better hunters, like when we use a rangefinder that can tell us exactly how far a shot is or use a handy little bag that produces heat when we shake it up. But even though we have all these gadgets right at our fingertips, it's the people that we are with, that really matter."

That's not to say that high-tech gear hasn't made an impact, because Drury believes otherwise.

"High-tech advancements have positively affected the time that we spend out in the field each year," he said. "Just the other day, I was in a local tire shop and an older farmer gentleman came in out of the cold wearing coveralls. It reminded me of my younger days hunting and how tough some of those days were wearing that kind of clothing because it was all we had. The stuff we wear today from Under Armour and other clothing makers, even when compared to just 10 years ago, is light years ahead and helps us stay out there a lot longer on those tough weather days."

Holder agrees and notes that the clothing and boots of today enable hunters to stay out longer and be stealthier as they hunt. But he is quick to point out that advancements in technology has no doubt drawn new young hunters from the high-tech era into the fold.

"Easton Holder, the 14-year-old in our house, says that this is very important because it opens the door for all sorts of kids to get involved," said David. "These are kids that would never have thought of picking up a bow before, who can now go to a local sporting goods store or archery shop and quickly begin to see some sort of accomplishment."

Drury agrees: "I think specifically, over the last 10 years or so, we've seen major advancements in bows, arrows, guns, bullets, game cameras and other gear. All of that has helped to make us more efficient hunters and has helped to enhance the enjoyment of the sport that we find in the field. In fact, I don't know if there is another decade in our industry's history like the past 10 years."

While the influx of high-tech gear has found its way into all forms of fall hunting from the chase for western big game to waterfowl hunts to upland bird outings, Drury is convinced that the trend has been most noticeable in deer hunting circles.

"In my opinion, there has not been a greater advancement in recent years than trail cameras," said Drury. "At least as far as where Terry and I are concerned, over the last five years, these cameras have taken our whitetail hunting to a whole other level."

How so?

"Because of (game management techniques) and the use of cameras, we get to see which deer live on our lands and we get to analyze the data about their travel habits, where they bed, what they eat, etc.," said Drury. "Because of that, we have a carefully formulated game plan when we encounter a deer now rather than a shoot or don't shoot snap decision after a 15-second glimpse of a buck like we had not too many years ago."

Does such high-tech gear and gadgets make hunting too easy as some critics claim?

"I won't make an argument either way," said Holder. "I think the most important part of our pastime is not what we use to hunt, but that we hunt and that we do it with people we love and with respect for fair chase of the quarry that we pursue. If we keep those elements in mind, I don't care if you have (the latest) electronic scope or a long bow."

Drury says that he is certain of one area where new technologies have helped hunting, although it isn't necessarily with gear.

"I'm thinking that the high-tech communication that we have available to us today helps through the use of social media," he said. "It presents hunting in a positive light and keeps the fire stoked for others out there. It's the same thing with outdoor television too, it helps show hunting in a positive light and it draws interest and participation from others."

Holder agrees: "The next time we share a selfie of our hunt, as long as we do it in a clean and a tasteful way, even the smartphone is helping to promote the time-honored tradition that we love."

And that's something that excites both Drury and Holder as they get into the woods with their families each year.

With backpacks containing selections of high-tech gear and gadgets, things that help make an age-old experience more enjoyable, comfortable and efficient.

All while priming the pump to keep them and their families coming back for more in the years to come.

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