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Inventions that changed hunting industry

Break out your camo and zero in your rifles – the hunting season has begun. Around 6% of Americans (approximately 16.9 million) consider themselves hunters. According to the latest available U.S. Census Bureau’s National Survey report, total hunting spending constitutes $33.7 billion which is a little less than the GDP of Slovenia. No question there that hunting is one of the America’s favorite hobbies. Contemporary hunting relies on innovations as much as on experience. Below we have listed inventions and innovative products that have shaped the hunting industry.

Rangefinders

Rangefinders measure the distance between an observer and the target. Knowing the distance to a target allows a hunter not to miss the target. Moreover, every hunter with integrity wants to make a clean shot to prevent tracking a wounded animal, let alone inflicting any unnecessary pain and suffering to the prey.

The first rangefinder (coincidence rangefinder) was introduced by Scottish company Barr and Stroud in the 1880s that evolved later to sophisticated gadgets used for surveillance and surveying in World War II. The user used to determine the range of the objects by calculating the angles created by the line of the sight at the both ends of the rangefinder (see the image below). If the angle is small, the object is located at far distances and if the angle is large, the object is located at a close distance.

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Coincidence rangefinder in use by a soldier in World War II

The optical technology has come a long way since World War II.  Currently, the majority of hunters avoid using bulky old-fashioned rangefinders and prefer laser alternative. The first laser rangefinder (LRF) was developed in 1965. The device emits laser beams at the push of a button. Those beams bounce off distant objects and return back to the device where a high-speed clock measures the total time it took the beam to come back.

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An example of Modern Laser Rangefinder

Compound bow

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Recurve vs Compound Bow

Bowhunting would not become so popular nowadays unless Holless Wilbur Allen invented and patented his compound bow in the mid-1960’s. Traditional (recurve) bow makes a relatively poor tool to hunt with since it has a limited range (20 yards), takes a lot of time to master and is hard to draw and hold back. In the process of modifying his recurve bow, Allen sawed the limbs and attached pulleys to the new ends. Many traditional bowmen resisted the idea at first. Allen has reached out to the technical editor of the Archery Magazine (later renamed Archery World) to write a technical review of his new design. The editor agreed and sent the bow to Tom Jennings a bowman for the field test. Jennings was the first to recognize the potential of Allen’s design resulting in purchasing the intellectual property rights for manufacturing of Allen’s compound bows. From there, competitors followed by hunters took interest in the bow, the entire market was born. A survey performed in 2015 by the Archery Trade Association (ATA) revealed that out of 235 million citizens 18 and older, 9.2 percent participate in archery at some level. This recent increase in archery or bowhunting participation mirrors a growth in federal excise taxes (FET) collected from the sales of bows and arrows between 2012 and 2014 through the Pittman-Robertson Act (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act). Those FET totals rose from $44.38 million in 2012 to $55.13 million in 2014.

Camouflage for hunting

Military camouflage went mainstream when a bowhunter enthusiast Jim Crumley drew a tree bark pattern with a permanent marker on his work clothes to better blend in with the hardwood. When more hunters saw his patented “Trebark” design in small ads in Bowhunter magazine and wanted one for themselves, Crumley decided to commercially produce the camouflage suits in the 1980s. In the following years, Bill Jordan has created his Realtree pattern and Toxey Haas has come up with Mossy Oak. To this day familiar motif could be found on everything from firearms to furniture. Realtree and Mossy Oak are two biggest companies in the outdoor industry offering virtually every type of product for sportsmen. In the early 2000s, Haas Outdoors Inc. (parent company of the Mossy Oak) purchased all ownership rights to Trebark®.

A few hunters today would even walk into the woods without wearing a camo suit manufactured by one of those companies.

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Bill Jordan CEO of Realtree

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Toxey Haas CEO of Mossy Oak

Adhesive light strips

Police officers Glen Bushee and Jon Neal designed their first tactical flashlight for law enforcement that can be used to temporarily distract and disorient a suspect or attacker. Later the officers established Brite-Strike Technology Inc. the company that develops new LED containing products for law enforcement and outdoorsmen. The latest addition to the line of products for outdoor enthusiasts is All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips. The strip can be attached to the trees to mark the trail in the dark. Most importantly, green LEDs cannot be detected by animals.

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All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips

Hearing protection

Ear plugs are the simplest hearing protection known since the ancient times. Home-made earplugs made of cotton, wax, and clay were used by ancient people as far back as 700BC. Introduction of conventional earplugs wasn’t until 1907 when Max Negwer established Ohropax, the company was the first to make ear wax plugs commercially available. Over a half a century later, Ray and Cecilia Benner invented the first moldable earplugs. Since then ear protection technology has come a long way. Sometimes the danger comes from what you can’t hear as opposed from what you can hear. Conventional earplugs would not make you safer at the construction site.

A single gunshot can easily reach 140 dB resulting in permanent hearing damage. While hunting it is important to protect your hearing when you make a shot but at the same time a hunter should be aware of his surroundings and be able to hear the tiniest rustle a hundred yards away. Luckily, hearing protection technology available today can block out harmful noises while allowing full hearing perception. Some models can provide audio enhancement of speech and ambient noise so you can enjoy nature and hear your hunting buddy’s chatter.

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About The Author

Onega Ulanova

Onega co-founded LA NPDT because of her love to innovation, brand development, and people. She is passionate about making the world around her a better place and gives back through volunteering.

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