Are current advancements in hunting the future of hunting, or just the latest fad? Here are three things to know before anyone else that will affect future of hunting.
You can count on crossbows, thermal or night vision optics, and food plots to affect the future of hunting for years to come. It is one thing for celebrity hunters to use the new technology their sponsor provides, but a growing number of average hunters are deer hunting with crossbows, predator hunting with a thermal scope, and clearing land for food plots.
1. Crossbows are here to stay
States across the country are making hunting with a crossbow legal and crossbows are gaining in popularity. Up until now I have been on the fence regarding crossbows. My dad, a recurve bow addict, felt the same way about my compound bow. To him, the technology behind the compound bow was an unfair advantage. Until recently, I felt the same way regarding crossbows.
My wife and I had set up our Davis Outdoor Adventures booth at the Big Town Gun Show in Mesquite, Texas. As the day went along, a hunter stopped by and we had a chat about bow hunting. He mentioned he no longer hunts with a bow due to a rotator cuff tear in his shoulder. Within the hour, two other hunters had similar stories.
After talking to these hunters, I understood why crossbows were gaining in popularity. According to the Sporting Good Manufacturer's Association, crossbow manufacturing has grown by 80 percent since 2006 and crossbows now make up 25 percent of all bow sales.
If you consider the fact that a growing number of states now allow you to use a crossbow, older or disabled bow hunters need an alternative to their compound bow and see the technology advancements in crossbows you quickly realize that the crossbow is here to stay.
2. Hunters are turning to thermal and night vision optics to hunt hogs more effectively
Hogs are often nocturnal and always on the move. They are difficult to pattern and cause millions of dollars of damage to crops and fields every year. Farmers and hunters are having a difficult time controlling them.
Many hunters are now using thermal and or night vision scopes to hunt hogs and predators at night. Of course, this may not be legal everywhere, so check your local regulations before dropping down the cash it takes to buy a thermal scope. Contrary to popular belief, hunting with a thermal or night vision scope does not give you the right to hunt from the road
With that said, outfitters are now offering guided thermal hunts. Hunters can hunt at night when it is cooler, and the pigs are more likely to be in the open. The outfitter provides the gun and thermal scope, so hunters don't have to make that investment.
As advancement in thermal or night vision technology drives down costs, many hunters are buying their own thermal and night vision scopes. These scopes have a variety of options and prices, so choose what works best for your quarry and budget. Setting up your rifle and thermal or night vision scope, practicing to make a shot at night, scouting the hog or predator, and the harvest will make your hunt even more rewarding.
It doesn't matter if you use an outfitters thermal or night vision rig, buy your own optics, hunt for hogs, hunt for predators, or hunt for both, thermal and night vision optics are here to stay.
3. Since Lee and Tiffany Lakosky burst on the scene killing monster deer on food plots, hunters everywhere have started planting food plots.
There has been a lot of research done on food plots recently. The result is you have a better product that you can use to keep wildlife on your property year around. In fact, you can plant a food plot for whitetail deer, turkey, dove, rabbits, quail, and waterfowl.
Improving wildlife habitat not only benefits the target species but often benefits unintended species as well. For instance quail and songbirds may enjoy the same food source. A quality food plot often correlates to a healthier herd. The young of a given species starts life off with access to a food source rich in nutritional value; often resulting in more healthy adults of that species.
Recent advancements in food plot science have given those of us in parts of the country like west Texas or mountain states the ability to plant food plots. In the past, the soil was too poor, and food plot products simply did not work in our climate. That is no longer the case. This year, we planted several small food plots near Olney, Texas. In two weeks, we had crop breaking through, very impressive given the climate and we still see growth.
Just a few years ago hunting with a crossbow was not legal, thermal or night vision scopes were not available, and food plot products did not exist. The advancements we have seen in these areas are just the beginning. The next generation of hunters will consider them essential to their hunting success.