Overdrive Extra

Jack Roberts

Technology creep

| November 26, 2012

To a large extent, both CCJ and Overdrive magazines focus on technology. CCJ, in particular, started out as a technology/business magazine way back in 1911 with the premise of telling people how the could use a new technological marvel – the motor car – to haul goods and make money.

The pace of technology is often uneven. Historically, technology’s two prime drivers have been war and capitalism; although I think today we can add “government” to that list. It happens that today we’re in an accelerated technological adaptation era in the trucking industry. But in reality, technology is always growing, shifting, reacting and adjusting to what’s going on in its target markets. Something new comes along. Something else changes. A product makes a big splash. Someone copies – and then improves on it. And then, one day you wake up and realize everything has changed.

That’s true for all of us in all aspects of our lives today. I was thinking about this last week when the holiday craziness finally subsided enough to let me grab my rifle and slip off into the woods and go hunting.

The first day of hunting season is filled with nostalgia for a lot hunters. You remember your father or uncle or cousin who first took you, taught you how to shoot, how to move through the woods and what to look for when you were out there. So it’s a time of reflection and fond memories for many of us.

And I was in that frame of mind when I suddenly took stock of all the equipment and gear I had with me that day and realized that, once again, the relentless pace of technology had overtaken yet another facet of my life with me really realizing it.

When I first went hunting back in the early 1980s, those efforts were a decidedly low-tech affair. No one wore camouflage: Jeans and a flannel shirt were the uniform of the day. And while I’m not really interested in staring a climate debate here, facts are facts: It used to get cold back in the 1980s with the ground frozen solid in mid-November, even down here in Alabama. To keep warm I had a pair of black, uninsulated, hand-me-down Air Force jump boots and a hand-me-down Air Force parka. If it got really cold, I’d dig out the wool socks and long johns.  Firepower was a 12-guage Winchester pump with 00 buckshot that I think my mother paid all of $75 for at the Woods & Water store in Northport.

And that was it.

Flash-forward to today and it’s a totally different ballgame. Now there’s full-line, scent-control camo that gets washed with special laundry detergents to make sure you don’t cast off an ultra-violet glow as you walk though the woods. I’ve got artic-rated rubber boots with no scent signature, unbelievably thin – yet warm – heat and moisture controlled underwear for those few days when the temperatures actually drop below 40 degrees and water-proof, insulated jackets that are so warm you have to carry them when you’re walking to your stand because you’ll overheat if you wear them while moving around.

Complimenting all of that, I have a high-powered Browning rifle, fitted with a telescopic sight with glow-in-the-dark reticles (they don’t work very well) that is easily accurate out to 300 yards, binoculars, all sorts of cover scents as well as calls and rattling antlers (which I never bother with). And, of course, there are four-wheel-drive pickup trucks, infrared game cameras, jacked-up golf carts and utility vehicles, LED flashlights with blood-detecting lens and a whole host of other products designed to help me find, shoot, track and collect game in the field.

And boredom in the stand? Not a problem any more. I have my Smartphone with me, of course. It cost as much as my first rifle. And I might take my iPad into the stand with me; I have a better wireless reception on the hunting club when I do at the house. So I can text with my friends, check Facebook, read about Auburn firing its football coach or even – regrettably – work while I’m out in the country getting away from it all.

Now; does all this technology actually make me a better hunter? I don’t know. That’s open to debate. It makes me a lazier hunter. I can tell you that much. And it makes me poorer, because I’ve spent a lot of money on a lot of that stuff I just mentioned. (And I’m the very model of restraint compared to some of my friends.)

The truth of the matter is that I killed the most, and biggest deer of my life, while I was sitting out in the open freezing my ass off in an old Air Force parka while my toes slowly went numb in those absolutely miserable combat boots.

Technology is only as good as you make it, I guess. But it can be remarkable to suddenly take stock of a hobby, application, vocation or pastime and suddenly realize how much it has changed over time. And how much money the innovators, entrepreneurs and inventors have made off of you in the meantime.