Imagine all the work it takes to stealthily stalk your prey. As you get up early, dress in clothing you were careful to prepare, and travel over harsh terrain to your favorite hunting spot, you carry with you the expectation that you will be able to settle in for a quiet day of whitetail hunting. What if, instead of the calm and quiet you expect, the rising sun is accompanied by a persistent, annoying buzzing sound from overhead?
If this scenario sounds unlikely to you, then it is time you adjust your anticipation of the new reality with which hunters are now being faced. The fine folks at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have decided to take issue with hunters. With the intention of proving that hunting is cruel and game animals often suffer for long periods of time over days, weeks, or even months before dying, PETA has plans to video hunters in action with a drone. Referred to as "Air Angels" these drones are remote control and any footage they acquire can be live streamed via the internet, which goes hand in hand with PETA's plans to paint hunters as villains. Additionally, the noise these drones make could possibly scare off any game animal in the vicinity, making it tougher for you to get a shot off, and if you do make a shot that only injures, the drone will likely run that animal further away, vilifying hunters even more in the process.
Although this news of planned drone use is absurd, there is some good news for nine states in particular. Included in that tally is Missouri, which is taking a hint from Nebraska's Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act (LB412) and creating a bill of its own. Missouri state Rep. Casey Guernsey's bill will place a ban on people, state agencies, and organizations from using drones to watch and record the actions of others for purposes such as journalism, environmental data gathering, land use monitoring, and more. The only way such surveillance will be allowed and the resulting footage shared is through the acquisition of a warrant.
Photo: Alter the Course
Now that drones have been associated with hunting, a new Pandora's Box has been opened in the form of hunters who wish to use drones for their own personal hunting gain. Drones are being used by hunters themselves to track and scout game, which is seen as an unfair advantage amongst many in the hunting community. Also of concern is possible flushing of game towards hunters lying in wait. To date, four states (Colorado, Alaska, Montana, and New Mexico) have banned the use of drones in hunting, with more states likely to follow their lead. Anyone caught using a drone in violation of new laws is subject to punishment along the lines of fines of up to $500 and they could have their gear confiscated and license revoked as well.
What are your thoughts regarding drones in the field? Do they have a place there, or are they better left at home? Do you, or would you, use one personally? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.