Times of Change

Jamie Ham
Jamie Ham

It’s no secret that time changes things. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. Change can be your friend and change can be your enemy. For our little area here in Eastern North Carolina, hunting has experienced much of both.

Technology has taken hunting to a level that many people may have never imagined possible. Although the first trail or “game” camera was introduced in the late 1800s and operated by a tripwire, today’s cameras take real time videosand pictures, use infrared, have long battery life or run off of solar and send real-time photos and pictures directly to your smartphone. Animal tracking devices have also been around since the 1950s.

In the early 1970s the Global Positioning System (GPS) came along. In the 1980s it was made available to the public. While it has taken a while to gain traction, hound hunting with GPS has revolutionized the sport (and quite possibly saved it).

While I take pleasure in using both forms of technology, I’m also old enough to remember when it wasn’t around.Believe it or not, there was actually a time when you had to scout for deer sign and spend much more time in the woodstrying to find the right spot for a trophy buck. The size of tracks, rubs and scrapes was often used as a determining factor on the size of the deer in that area.

Now it’s as simple as hanging a camera on a tree. Within a few weeks you’ll have a picture of most of the deer traveling through the area.

On the hound side, I remember a time when you turned your hound loose and may or may not see them again that day or night depending on the game you pursued. I once lost a coonhound for over a week because I had no way of knowing where he was. I also remember losing deer hounds for days or even weeks until someone called to let me know they had picked them up. There were also hounds that I never laid my eyes on again.

If you talk to enough of the old-timers you’ll hear the stories about “Ole Blue” or “Dan and Anne” and how they carried them hunting and never saw them again. Many times they would just leave a shirt or jacket on the ground right where they turned them loose and come back later to find their hound bedded down nearby.

Track and training systems nowadays allow you to see your hounds every move (both good and bad) and also allow you to control much of what they do. If used properly, a track and training system can be a very valuable asset for both you and your hounds.

I can’t count the times that I walked all the way through a plot of land to get my coonhound, only to emerge on the other side and realize I could have driven around. With GPS that is no longer an issue.  In short, I feel like the upside of technology far outweighs the downside.

But with the coming of technology being used for hunting negative changes have been experienced as well.   

Just because you have a picture of that big 10 pointer it doesn’t make him yours. Just because you got a picture of someone’s hound, that doesn’t mean they were intentionally hunting your property.  Although I use them, I am not a trail camera fan. It seems quite often that trail camera photos can create greed and many times destroy friendships.  I’m also quite certain they have caused a few divorces. 

On the track and training side, hounds can literally be ruined by the press of a button. Believe it or not, the hound hunting sport has just as many lazy people as it does top notch houndsmen (and houndswomen). 

Many people mistakenly use the training side of their GPS out of laziness. “He didn’t do this, so I shocked him. He didn’t do that, so I shocked him. I was ready to go home, so I shocked him.” 

While the training aspect is a wonderful thing, too often it has taken laziness to a new level. Track and training equipment can be a tool used to improve a hound and also used to ruin a hound. Although I can’t find many negative things to say about the tracking side of the GPS, I could go on and on about the training side.

Early on, I myself made many mistakes just by pressing a button.  Thankfully I learned from those mistakes and I have been able to utilize track and training equipment as an invaluable tool for my hound hunting. There’s a good chance that without GPS track and training systems, hound hunting would be gone in our area.  Using this equipment properly is the key.  

There’s no telling what the future holds for hunting. With technology almost anything is possible. I can’t control the future, but I am thankful I know who holds my future. While He has a way of getting my attention when I mess up, I am also very thankful that He is just  in His correction and doesn’t “light me up on the highest setting” just because he can.