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BIGSHOT Magazine Top Ten Hunting Game Changers

21st century innovations that have changed the modern hunting landscape

Chris Maxwell: hunter and feature editorial writer

Hunting has come a long way in the past fifty years. Gone are the days where all that was deemed necessary to hunt was a rifle, a few cartridges and a pick up truck. Today’s hunter has entered a golden age with more products and gear to choose from than ever thought imaginable by our previous generations. Here are a few of the technological advances that have helped launch the modern day hunter into the 21st century.

I remember picking up my first pack. It was well built with a sturdy frame however the downside was that it weighed almost twelve pounds empty! With gear and food a sixty to seventy pound pack was inevitable. Today a hunter can cut the dry weight of a pack down to under five pounds. Advances in technology and innovative designs that incorporate carbon fiber frames with high tech synthetic bags are commonplace if not the new standard.

In the past there was only one option for scouting, go to the field! Sitting on a hill to glass the surrounding area, looking for sign and burning boot leather were the most common ways to search for quarry. Today a hunter can scout multiple locations 24 hours a day seven days a week with the aid of a handful of trail cameras. Knowing where the “big one” is has never been easier. Entry level cameras to sophisticated units that utilize cell phone service to send pictures back in real time are available to satisfy almost everyone’s requirements.

While the modern rifle really hasn’t changed that much in a hundred years, modern ammunition has advanced beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Historically, the bigger the animal the bigger the rifle you needed to use to take it down. Today’s selection of ammunition not only allows greater versatility with a single caliber but also allows you to specifically select the load you want to use for a particular animal. Whether it’s a Hornady GMX for an elk or a Winchester Ballistic Silver Tip for a sheep, the options are almost endless. Factory ammunition has also improved significantly with more consistent loads offering sub MOA groupings from almost every premium grade of ammunition. In the past this consistency was reserved for only those who hand loaded their own shells.

Cotton has almost become a dirty word in the modern hunting community. The inability to wick moisture and dry itself quickly has rendered it virtually obsolete. Long gone are the days where hunting garb consisted of blue jeans and a red plaid shirt. The options today for the modern sportsman are greater than ever before. Favourite camo patterns are available in almost every fabric type known to man making the options endless. Breathable materials, waterproof and lightweight are what define todays hunting apparel.

With information just a click away it’s no wonder the internet has become a favourite research tool among modern day hunters. Satellite images, maps and other information on an area are readily available. Add in the multitude of outdoors forums and the latest information on gear everything you need to know can be found while sipping on your morning coffee. Lets also not forget the almost unlimited amount of information on your targeted species. A quick search will find everything you ever wanted to know on virtually every popular game animal.

Names like SCI, GSCO, and WSF among others come to mind. These organizations have been around for some time but are thriving today with annual conventions promoting hunting, gear, top outfitters as well as lobbying for your rights as a hunter. Everyone should be a member of at least one hunting organization and attend their annual convention. You just might be surprised at the contacts you make and the success in the field that results from it.

Long gone are the days where you had to rely on a map and compass, or worse your memory! Modern GPS units are inexpensive, reliable, and host a wide variety of functions and data. Although a hunter should never enter the wilderness without a map and compass, a GPS is almost as standard as taking your riffle. Just remember to take extra batteries!

Legal in many jurisdictions scents and lures have become almost unlimited in variety and are available from a large number of manufactures. What drives deer “wild” in your area will more than likely be available on a shelf somewhere. Modern calls have also become wildly available. Everything from elk, deer and predator calls are available in a variety of tones. Not to mention electronic calls that have gone from what sounded like a blown speaker to lifelike imitations.

What started out as a niche backpack industry has now exploded into the mainstream hunting world. With multiple companies making freeze dried food, trail mix and high protein energy bars specifically designed for excursions the modern hunter has never had it so good. Long gone are the days of heavy packs full of canned beans. While freeze fry meals may still lack in the flavour department they are a great way to bring in enough food for your hunt.

While the modern day riffle has changed very little in terms of design and functionality that same cannot be said for archery gear. Bow speeds that were not imaginable even ten years ago are being achieved today. Carbon fiber arrows, knocks that light up when fired, bow designs that have more engineering hours put into them than some vehicles; I think even Fred Bear would have been impressed.

Today’s modern hunting innovations are like the cell phone. One has to wonder how the previous generation ever did without them. What modern hunting innovations have effected you the most?