Sportsmen not immune from "iHunting" world by John

Sportsmen not immune from ‘iHunting’ world By: John Martino The fall season and Thanksgiving are one of the best times of the year. A period when the air is crisp, warm pumpkin pies cool on kitchen counters and the sweet smell of roasting turkey fills the house. It’s also when hordes of hunters take to the woods. When I was a teenager that meant waking up early on Saturday morning, throwing on a heavy coat and orange hat and walking out the door with a 20-gauge shotgun to go lean against a tree for a few hours. Maybe I’d eat a candy bar, watch a few squirrels and think about why that pretty girl in high school math class always ignored me. If things got too boring, I’d switch from deer slugs to shot-shells and take a few of those pesky squirrels. Things were so simple back then. It was a typical childhood. Well, those wholesome and simple ways of taking game are long gone. To some degree, the tradition of hunting seems less of an escape from iPhones, iPads and other electronic gadgets and more of an extension of the Bluetooth world we try so hard to evade. Today’s hunters use GPS devices to mark trails, pinpoint stand locations and hopefully not get lost. Hunting dogs wear fancy electronic tracking collars so they don’t do the same. We map out deer trails in advance with wireless, motion-sensor cameras that instantaneously send the pictures directly to our e-mail or iPhone. Plus, there are more hunting apps than you can count. It used to be rifle scopes came in 4-power and had standard reticles and that was it. They worked just fine and people still took lots of deer. Now optics give specific distances, sport bulging knobs, little lights and controls that belong on the instrument panel of an F-16. They come equipped with a BDC automatically adjusting the MOA perfectly positioning the POI. We carry small, expensive lights capable of piercing the darkness with hundreds of lumens, instead of the two dollar flashlights we used as kids. The sale of hunting equipment and accessories is big business - to the tune of roughly $50 million each year. Today, there are thousands of off-beat products looking for a piece of that pie. This brings me to “Gum-O-Flage,” a specialty gum that creates a natural scent that won’t spook game. After all, what deer in its right mind would come to a hunter with breath smelling like last night’s chicken wings and beer? There are liquids, sprays and gels that help mask other odors as well. We have scent free deodorants, shampoos and even powders we can apply to private parts so we don’t go into the woods smelling like…well, you know. If hunting geese is your specialty, then what better way to hide than pretending to be a cow. A leading outdoor equipment catalog offers a life-sized fake bovine that you can hide inside of, like a Trojan horse. What could be more harmless than a cow grazing in a field, you might ask? A lot of things, especially if there is a love-sick Angus bull in that same field feeling frisky! Now, let’s say your breath isn’t too smelly, your fancy electronics have got you where you want to be, you’re disguised perfectly as a cow and you have just taken the biggest buck that you called in with your triple reed, variable tone deer grunter. Who wants to wait until you get back to town to see just how big the rack is? Now you don’t have to because you can use the “Rackulator,” billed by the manufacturer as “The World’s Only Electronic Calculating Big Game Scoring Tool!” It’s sort of a high-tech tape measure that you trace over the antlers and it tells you the score instantly - in four different categories. All this for only $129.95. (Actually I planned on making more fun of this but after reading about it I just ordered one.) How about this one. There’s a product currently being tested called “Season Shot.” Their slogan is “Shoot, Kill, Season.” According to its website (, it’s the only “ammo with flavor.” The idea is the shot dissolves when heated so after cooking your game it is automatically flavored for you. That’s right, you can season on impact. The product will come in garlic, Cajun and lemon-pepper. Even words used by manufacturers to describe modern (and not so modern) hunting gadgets have gotten creative. There are “Whisker Biscuits” and “BoDoodles” for your compound bow. And if you want to shoot with perfect form, eliminating any human variable, you need to buy a “Hooter Shooter.” When the hunt is over and you’re back at the cabin, what better way to relax than popping in the latest copy of “Bikini Bucks.” This video shows perfectly proportioned, scantily clad ladies holding enormous racks. I am talking about antlers. If you are an avid hunter like me then you will truly enjoy watching this video - over and over and over. So what does all this off-the-wall hunting stuff really mean for the future of hunting? “Do you need all that expensive fancy stuff,” my dad used to say when I’d show him the latest in outdoor equipment. “The Indians killed 2,000 pound buffalo with a wooden bow and stone points,” he’d tell me. (I did however keep my collection of “Bikini Bucks” a secret.) Yet some avid hunters, like my brother Jim, believe the more advanced our equipment the more efficient and effective we become. “There is no doubt some of that stuff works,” he said, while discussing several of the items mentioned in this column. I guess the debate will always continue. But what everyone does agree on is “who would really want to carry all that stuff into the woods.” I am still undecided on whether or not all the latest, high-tech stuff is really necessary. But, after a lifetime of hunting, one thing has become perfectly clear. That hot babe in high school probably ignored me because I was a bit on the pudgy side topped with a head the size of a prize winning pumpkin!