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100710 hunting 4 pb

Elk hunters will hope to cross paths with a big bull during general hunting season.

Heading out for the big hunt? Leave your drone at home.

The Missoula-based Boone and Crockett Club, North America’s oldest hunting and conservation organization, has announced that any game scouted or taken with the help of drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles is ineligible for entry into its records program.

“Boone and Crockett likes to, as much as possible, set the standard for fair chase,” said Richard Hale, the chairman of the club’s big game records committee.

The club defines fair chase as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.

“These drones, like all technology, have advanced rapidly. We need to be responsive to the way technology is changing things,” Hale said Sunday, adding that several states, including Colorado and Alaska, have already moved to ban the use of drone-aided hunting.

Curbing the use of technology is not new for the Boone and Crockett Club.

In the 1960s, the group declared that trophies taken with the use or assistance of aircraft, including spotting or herding game, would be ineligible for its prestigious records.

“We already don’t allow things like trail cameras that could send an image to, say, your phone, or pursuing game in a vehicle,” Hale said.

He said if Boone and Crockett or even state wildlife agencies take a wait-and-see approach on new technology, companies and other groups can develop an entrenched interest in seeing such technology stay legal, and lobby against any moves to limit them later on.

The Boone and Crockett Club was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887 to promote the proper management of wildlife and encourage hunting sportsmanship. Its international headquarters is in Missoula.

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