Gadget Smadget By Scott Welch
*An excerpt from the July/August 2011 issue
The older I get, the more and more annoyed I get with all the sure-fire gadgets that follow outdoor pursuits around like a vulture. Whitetail deer hunting is the most blatant example. My Grandpa would roll over in his grave if he could see the amount of gear (and amount of money that is spent on the gear) that is "needed" to hunt deer nowadays. It seems that sportsmen have been made to think that being well equipped is a suitable substitute for being competent. Trappers are not insulated from this and may even be subject to more of it than any other group. Though, with the glut of "kill shows" on TV, deer hunters may now be in the lead. I do deer hunt, so I don’t feel bad poking fun at them. The difference between having caught or shooting an animal, it seems, is just one more piece of equipment. This is not a new trend, look at ads in magazines from the thirties and forties and you will find the same, "you need this to succeed" advertising. I would guess this has been true as long as there has been trapping and sport hunting, and advertising for that matter.
As a kid I fell for all of this. Newer had to be better. My Grandpa and I had constant disagreements on this. Not arguments, we never did that. Just remarks like, "Hey Grandpa, maybe we should try that new-fill in the blank." "You don’t need all that stuff," he would reply, and that would be the end of it. I would blow all my boyhood money on what I was sure to help me catch bigger fish, or trap more critters or shoot more animals. Grandpa, on the other hand just used the same old gear, and enjoyed himself just as much. I paint us as extremes on this topic and I guess that could be true. I well remember sitting at night with our "chicken in distress" tape trying to call in fox. My Grandpa raised Bantam show chickens as a hobby, so the tape was homemade. There was a trick to this set-up as at the tail end of this tape there must have been some difficulties in handling the bantie rooster that supplied the squawking. After the last bout of spirited "distress" several human voices broke in and could be heard in the background. They stayed on that tape forever. Come to think of it, I don’t know why. I just know that when you saw the eyes making their way across the pasture, you prayed that they beat the voices! I was all in favor of paying the $9.99 for a new tape, Grandpa didn’t see where there was a problem. (I think I was right in this case, however.)