How one gadget guru realized it was time to gear down

I once believed the more hunting and fishing gadgets I used, the better the chances I would have of harvesting fish and game. At any given time during my hunts, for example, it was not uncommon for me to carry a digital rangefinder, handheld GPS unit, GMRS two-way radio, digital compass, conventional compass, weather alert radio, binoculars, spotting scope, digital camera, disposable camera and trail camera—all stuffed into my backpack. As for fishing, it was pretty much the same story: a fishfinder, old-school flasher, 10 different rod set-ups, digital temperature gauge and so on joined me on every outing.

When it came to high-tech gear, the more the merrier I always said-until the day I suffered gadget overkill and discovered something I like to call the gadget law of diminishing returns. Namely, this is the point at which each new hunting and fishing accessory you add to your collection begins to adversely affect your productivity. Let me tell you, it was a big revelation for this gadget guru.

It was a fall day in Quebec's beautiful Laurentian Mountains when the buck of a lifetime appeared at a most inopportune time and my accessory love affair came crashing down. With a GPS in one hand and two-way radio buzzing in the other, the rifle I had cradled over my right shoulder felt more than a mile away. I was so busy chatting with a hunting partner, I didn't even hear the giant buck barrel over the knoll in front of me. I was completely preoccupied and unprepared, and the enormous deer disappeared from view long before I could even reach for my firearm.

From that point on, I made the tough decision to scale back my accessories, gadget by gadget. After several outings of consciously experimenting, I came up with a hit list of essential items to carry afield, along with a list of what to leave back at camp. For a guy who gets turned on by digital electronics, this was not an easy task.

Paring back gadgets from my hunting repertoire was particularly difficult, but as painful as it was, I found a way to do it. For those of you who do a lot of walking during hunting season, added bulk and weight is always a concern. So I first trimmed back by eliminating large, superfluous items such as spotting scopes and trail cameras. These tools are great for pre-season scouting, but they're really too heavy to carry in the woods on a regular basis.

Next, I examined those gadgets I don't use that often and decided that if something hadn't been touched for an entire season, it could be left at home. Such was the case with my digital compass, weather-alert radio and digital rangefinder. While the list of what to leave out will of course differ from hunter to hunter, you get the idea.

I then performed the same triage on my fishing tackle, and that, too, was not an easy task. Still, I've managed to get back to basics as far as equipment goes. For most days on the water, all I now need is one comprehensive tacklebox with a few chosen baits and accessories, two fishing rods, a landing net or cradle and a small portable fishfinder. All those extraneous flashers, temperature gauges, underwater cameras and other bells and whistles only serve to create unnecessary diversions—and potentially hinder my chances of success. As my father has always told me, you can't catch fish with your line out of the water.

Now that I've cut back on nearly half my accessory list, the question arises: Are fewer gadgets really the way to go? My success has certainly increased since I shed the unwanted weight and distraction those items brought with them. Now, I'm much better prepared-both physically and mentally-when it comes to unexpected hunting situations. Likewise, my angling endeavours have also become more efficient.

In a world continually bombarded by the latest and greatest electronic gadgetry, I've learned how to properly accessorize yet still maximize for success afield. Take it from this self-proclaimed gear junkie: Do yourself a favour and break free from the shackles of modern technology before it's too late. Remember, high-tech equipment can be your friend, as long as you don't overdo it.