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Modernist vs. Traditionalist Debate:
A losing battle for both sides

By: Mark Banta

Technological advances in todayís society are occurring at such an alarming pace, that itís hard for the average Joe to keep up. In my short life span of 25 years, I have personally witnessed things that I never dreamed could become reality. Looking back and seeing where we were 20 years ago, and where we are today is amazing to me. I can only imagine what the senior age citizens of our society must be feeling.

When I was young, I remember thinking that the invention of the Atari and Microwave were quite amazing. Can you imagine what your Grandfather must think? When he was a boy, he rode to school on a horse, listened to the Grand Ole Opera on the radio for entertainment, and bathed in a wash tub. Now that he is in his senior years, he can buy a CD containing every Grand Ole Opera performance ever made. He can listen to it on a portable laptop computer, and surf the TV channels with his remote control. The same remote control that also controls the house alarm, his heart monitor, and the lights. I think you get the point.

Technological advances are viewed differently, depending on the person. The younger generation sees it as normal, because it is all they have ever known. It must scare the older generation somewhat, making them feel left behind and sometimes unable to keep up.

Left behind and unable to keep up pretty well describes how I am starting to feel about my hunting equipment. The hunting markets are literally being flooded with new equipment that makes the equipment I own obsolete. I would almost have to be a millionaire and a rocket scientist to keep up.

A good example of this is the black powder rifle. When I was 14 years old, I got my first black powder gun. It was a Hawkens Replica I ordered out of Cabelaís. A few years later, I started hearing about a new type of black powder rifle, the in-line. In-line black powder rifles have now taken over the market. Theyíre still breach loaded, making them legal for hunting, but theyíre as light as a .22 and have a bolt that keeps your cap dry and secure.

All the new computer programs available to track and plot your hunting areas are another advance in hunting equipment. I can now go out into the woods, push a few buttons on my GPS (Global Positioning System) Unit and know exactly where I am, and no matter where I go, I canít get lost. I can then go home, download the information onto my computer program and print out a map plotting the exact course I took that day.

Letís not forget bowhunting either. It used to be that bowhunting was simple. Youíd go out and buy a bow, a few arrows, and you were set. Now, I need to have a bow with the right type of cams, risers, and split in the right places for optimum performance. I shoot carbon arrows topped off with retractable blades, and release my string with a fifty-dollar device designed to provide a smoother release, so I donít disturb the arrow flight. I have to have the right type of sights too. I need some that account for elevation, and tell me whether or not I am holding my bow straight.

Now, here is the big question. Is all this technologically advanced equipment good or bad when it comes to hunting? The answer is; it depends on whom you ask. Many donít like it. They say it is unfair and takes the sport out of hunting. Others feel that it is the only way to go. They feel it helps people to be more accurate with their shots, thus eliminating needless suffering by the animal being hunted.

I feel that it is up to the individual. The traditionalist market is still flourishing. There are still many reputable manufacturers producing traditional style hunting equipment. Some swear by their flintlocks and only bowhunt with their long bow that they shoot instinctively. And, for those who prefer the modern approach, there is a limitless source of new technologically advanced equipment on the market for them.

My fear is not so much of all the change, but the impact it is having on the hunting community as a whole. Too many hunters are becoming more and more unrelenting on their views of one another. Some traditionalists are intolerant of those who choose to hunt with the best equipment money can buy and will publicly demean the modern style hunter. The same goes for some of the modern style hunters. They will shame the traditionalist, claiming he is less of a hunter for not keeping up with the times. I have been in countless chat rooms on the Internet that are hunting related in nature. Some of them are downright brutal. It is not uncommon to see a friendly debate turn into an all out name calling brawl.

It is this trickle down effect of technology that worries me. Now more than ever, it is important for hunters to unite in a unified voice. We must not get so caught up in hunting equipment, and debating one another, that we loosen the bond that unites us and protects us from our real foes.

Anti hunting sentiment in America is on the rise. Those who wish to take away our rights are knocking at the door. My fear is that they are beginning to sense friction between fellow hunters, and like a shark that smells blood in the water, are moving in for the kill.

The truth is that there are two sides to every story. I could make a good argument for both sides of the traditionalist vs. modernist debate. There is something much more important I need to be focusing on though. There is something much more important we should all be focusing on.