There was a day in the life of a deer hunter when his technological aids were limited to a functional deer rifle, a hunting knife, a good compass, and, perhaps, a topo map. That all changed with the dawning of satellite technology and all of the gizmo spinoffs that have followed. Hunter’s today have choices — from special Topo Map applications on their Smart Phones to trail cameras and various communication links with fellow hunters.

Then there is the drone. The dreaded drone. A hunter, with a small drone carrying a mounted camera, can scout game from on high. According to P.J. DelHomme in Bugle Magazine, Colorado became the first state in 2014 to outlaw the use of drones for scouting, hunting and taking wildlife. The Boone & Crockett Club issued a policy that game taken with the aid of drones would not be eligible for the record books. Additionally, according to DelHomme, state wildlife agencies, the Pope and Young Club and hunter-conservationists everywhere are discouraging the use of drones in hunting.

Interestingly, DeHomme points out that drones have become such a nuisance and safety issue in some metropolitan areas that the Dutch Police, for example, have trained eagles to snatch the drones out of the air!

How do you come down on this? Do you think that the use of a drone in the deer woods is consistent with your concept of fair chase?

Hunting ethicist Jim Posewitz defines the ethical hunter: “A person who knows and respects the animals hunted, follows the law, and behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of him or her as a hunter.”

Special emphasis should be placed on the social dimension mentioned above by Posewitz: “..behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of him or her as a hunter.”

In this era of intense social media and anti-hunting activism impressions count. If hunters are going to continue enjoying their heritage and pass it along to younger generations, they will adapt to ever-changing social norms.

Sure, drones can be a fun recreational device, but do they have a place in a deer hunter’s bag of tricks? As far as I am concerned, a drone has no place in the deer woods. It would be a real stretch to argue that a drone for scouting or hunting fits into the parameters of fair chase. Even if you as a hunter can rationalize use of a drone in the deer woods, you know that your non-hunting neighbor would be hard-pressed to accept drones as a fair chase device.

Besides, drones in the Maine deer woods are illegal. The law says:

No. Title 12 Section 11216 prohibits the use of aircraft to assist a person on the ground in hunting Bear, Deer, or Moose, and Title 12 Section 10001(1) defines an aircraft as “ a machine or device designed for flight.” Radio controlled helicopters and airplanes are machines or devices that are designed for flight and, therefore, are aircraft as defined in statute.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors,” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books. Online purchase information is available at

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