(WSIL) -- Advancements in technology and new tactics are allowing a wider age group of deer hunters to participate, according to local experts.
Deer hunting today is safer and more inclusive thanks to technology and new techniques.
In the past, getting into the woods could be a tough task for elderly and youth hunters. but now UTV's make it a lot easier.
Deer Hunter Tim Shaputis has been hunting for 30 years and has had a front-row seat for the changes. "I've got a Polaris Ranger that I use all the time," said Shaputis. "It makes getting to the stands and blinds a lot easier."
Hunting along the edge of farm fields is still popular but planting deer attracting crops like turnips and corn is a growing trend. Shaputis said hunters are able to plant the crops in stages and this allows them to better plan their hunts depending on the maturity of the crop.
Treestands and hunting blinds are still the chosen method for hunters but there have been advancements for both.
In years past most heavy blinds were constructed of wood and either built on-site or hauled in on a trailer. Portable blinds were usually just pieces of camouflage burlap. Modern blinds are built in factories and sold at most sporting goods stores.
Heavy blinds are still hauled in on trailers but now they're constructed of fiberglass. The inside on some pricier models has foam insulation on the walls and helps sound dampening and retaining heat. The windows have the ability to open or close to block out the elements.
Portable blinds today, resemble pop up tents and are able to be set up in a matter of minutes. These also have the ability to open and close windows while also helping to retain heat.
Shaputis said hunting in blinds also requires different clothing to be worn. He said Camouflage is not preferred "Your background and your blind have black walls have black clothes and kind of match your background."
Shuputis still hunts out of treestands on occasion but admits the safety and cover from the weather make blinds more attractive. "You don't have to get up 15 to 20 feet in a tree. For me, I get to hunt in bad weather. That's the big thing, hunt in bad weather and get away with a little movement," said Shaputis.
For treestand hunters, the use of safety lines and harnesses has made hunting much safer.
Officer Chris Johnson with the Illinois Department of Conservation said the numbers are proof. "If we have 20 accidents, I would say 16 of them are from treestand falls. But last year in 2019 we had a total of 20 accidents and only 10 were from treestand falls. That's still too many but that number is going down," said Johnson.
With better guns, crossbows, and a new minimum lower compound bow draw weight, Johnson said he is seeing a broader range of hunters hitting the woods. "Firearm season a lot of these kids are shooting 300 blackouts. They're not having to lug grandpa's shotgun and horse it around. It's something they can make an ethical shot with and it gets them out there and that's what we want," said Johnson.
Technology continues to make getting into the great outdoors more desirable for all and this is the progress Shuputis said he likes the most. "You know the benefits from it mentally is going to be worth every penny of it I guarantee it," he added.