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Doug Leier, Published December 03 2013

Leier: Technology not always the best method in the outdoors

West Fargo - I am pretty certain my wife and kids tire of my stories from “back in the day” or “how things used to be.”

More often than not it’s a discussion about how technology and electronic advances keep people from getting outside, or the capability to visit with new “friends” while waiting in checkout lines or at kids’ activities.

Instead of visiting with the people in the same venue, you’re texting people miles away. It’s simply an observation and not meant to judge, but technology continues to change what was once considered normal, and that applies in the outdoors scene just as much as it does in everyday life. Instead of visiting in person with other hunters and anglers, it’s Facebook and Twitter, and those are already “old.”

A few years back we lamented the advances with Global Positioning Systems (GPS),

cellphones and the internet. Hunters and anglers who had scouting and map-reading skills no longer had as much of an advantage. Now, instead of long hours in the field watching deer movements, hunters can monitor photos sent from multiple trail cameras before deciding which stand or spot to use.

If you look in the 2013 deer guide, you’ll even see that drones are already addressed. Who could have imagined the possibility of using drones as a hunting aid even just a couple years ago?

And who knows what the next new idea is.

My point is, people who can’t keep a secret about a hunting or fishing hot spot have been around for decades. The means of revealing those secrets, however, have changed, from settlers sending telegraphs, to brothers relaying via cellphone – complete with photos – that the hot bite has begun on the old backyard slough.

Let’s face it, if you discover a productive spot and tell anyone – anyone – you’ve just added a bit of gasoline and matches to a potential prairie fire of interest. The more who know, the better the odds of an exploitative onslaught.

Online aerial photographs have also changed hunter and angler expectations when it comes to information requests. Used to be that people were satisfied with the name of a lake where the fish were biting, or a county where pheasant hunting might be good.

Nowadays, I’ll get text messages, or even old-fashioned phone calls, from hunters or anglers looking for the “x,” or an exact location of where to go for the best bite or hunt.

Professionally, I explain the reality that “good” means something different to everyone, and it’s impossible for me to meet their expectations. And is it really the role of a biologist to tell hunters or anglers where to go? Besides, isn’t half the fun just getting out on your own, scouting and exploring?

In this day and age, it’s easy for locals to take issue with the unearthing of their favorite spots at the gas station or on the Internet. These are discovered and publicized on a regular basis. As such, you’re not likely to find many good places while searching electronic reports, because lots of other people are doing the same thing.

Your time is better spent out in the field, looking to discover your own secret spot, or establishing relationships that lead to access to private land.


Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov

Leier’s blog can be found online

at dougleier.areavoices.com