How much is too much when it comes to technology in the hunting woods?
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is debating that right now.
Manufacturers are the reason.
Makers and sellers of assorted electronic products approached Game Commissioners earlier this year asking that they be made legal for hunting.
Jonathan Kalasinski of Heated Hunts in Clarks Summit makes a battery-operated scent dispenser. Users load up to one ounce of deer urine or other scents in the device, then turn it on. Heated vapors escape and, presumably, attract game.
The fact the commission doesn’t currently permit them is putting his 7-month-old company “at risk,” Kalasinski said.
Sheri Baity of Crow’s Nest Calls in Covington asked that hunters be allowed to use the Nite Site scope-mounted lights she sells at her predator hunting website.
The lights are not infrared and do not track an animal’s heat signature, she said. Nor do they make a rifle more accurate.
They do, however, allow hunters – typically out at night after coyotes and the like — to see entire targets. That, she said, promotes safety.
“I have found that when using the lighting (currently) allowed for coyote hunting, the eyes of the animal are illuminated. But the rest of the body is still a shadowy figure,” Baity said.
“I don’t feel it allows the whole target to be safely and positively identified.”
Finally, Mike Dillon, general manager of FoxPro in Lewistown, asked commissioners to legalize electronic turkey calls. Five states permit them, he said.
Electronic turkey calls are not, as some believe, as effective as mouth or hand calls, Dillon said. But they do make it possible for beginners to get in the woods.
They’re also safer, he said.
“By positioning the call away from a turkey hunter, the risk of being shot by another hunter is minimized,” Dillon said.
Commissioners had questions in each case. Some centered around fair chase.
One other expressed concerns about what might be called woodsmanship.
Commissioner Jim Daley of Butler County said learning to use a turkey hand or mouth call, for example, takes time and practice. That extends the season.
“But I think you’re going to lose that long-term commitment to turkey hunting when a person only has to put a new battery in and turn it on,” Daley said.
Still, Kalasinski asked commissioners to examine their regulations. It’s previously updated them to allow for hearing amplification devices, laser rangefinders and lighted nocks, among other things, he noted.
Perhaps it’s time to look at them again, he suggested.
Commissioners agreed. They tasked agency staff with looking into the rules and the new products and coming back with some recommendations, perhaps as early as the board’s June meeting.
“The regulations that are on the books have been there for a very long time,” said commissioner Tim Layton of Somerset County. “I think it’s time we take a look at it, review it, see if there is any way we can introduce some of these devices as long as the resources is kept in mind.”