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WILTZ: Remington’s new technology is mind boggling

I’m guessing that I’ll alienate a few readers today — those whose god is a plastic phone that answers questions you verbally ask of it. “Can Samuel Jackson sing blues?” But they’ll come back.

The advent of new technology, even when it deals with hunting or fishing, doesn’t get me very excited. It might almost be safe to say I have a bad attitude toward it. Sitting in a room where most everyone is running their fingers over some sort of electronic mini-screen comes close to evoking anger in me. I almost hate what it’s doing to my grandchildren.

Today’s cell phone is undermining our ability to plan ahead even for a day. Forget something? Just call. No matter that the victim on the other end has important things to do. Perhaps they’re even driving. The way I see it, handheld iPods are depriving our children of basic learning skills, including math and writing.

Sometimes new technology falls by the wayside. Back in 2000, Remington Arms introduced a firearms ignition system that detonated its special ammunition with an electronic spark or charge instead of the standard primer that has been around for 130 years. The rifle required batteries, the system was expensive, and the concept failed to attract the general public. It “died” within three years.

I mention this because Remington recently introduced another firearms technological breakthrough. I saw Remington’s new offering last January at the Safari Club International convention in Las Vegas. It is a new shooting system built around a digital optical instrument which Remington calls the greatest shooting advancement since the telescopic sight. They named it the Remington 2020.

The rifle that supports the 2020 system looks like the bolt-action or AR-15 rifle we are familiar with. The 2020 mounts above the rifle’s receiver in the same place we would mount a scope. Now the similarity ends. The 2020 looks like the head of a Star Wars robot, and is actually about the same size as a human head. While carrying a 2020 mounted rifle around in the hunting field would be bulky and impractical, what it can do just might out-weigh all of its shortcomings.

Remington offers three different rifles that support the 2020 system. They include the BFI Varminter based on an AR platform and chambered in .223 Remington; a bolt-action Model 700 SPS Tactical in .308 Winchester; and a bolt-action Model 700 Long Range in .30-06. Remington’s special ammo is programmed and calibrated to the 2020 systems.

The 2020 system will immediately improve your accuracy and mine. The 2020’s 3-21x zoom range system includes a laser that will distance a deer-sized target out to 750 yards. Once the specific load is entered into its computer, the 2020 computes the aiming point based on temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, wind velocity and direction, inclination, and whether the rifle is canted. It also tracks moving targets and computes the necessary lead. An on-board video camera records the shot. All I can say is “Wow!”

In the 60 years that I’ve been a hunter, I’ve learned to estimate range and approximate a lead on a running animal. The same is true of wind compensation. I’ll give myself a grade of “B” in these skills. Since I’m not perfect, I pass on long shots. Now I could take a 2020 to my favorite antelope pasture, set up on a bench, and touch off a shot at a running pronghorn 600 yards out. He’d roll over stone dead. Would I be amazed? Yes. Would I be proud? No. I’ll never take a 2020 into the field.

However, if I were still the city of Wagner police commissioner, I’d sit down with our chief and ask him if our police department needs a Remington 2020. He would know better than I. I can also see military uses for such a system. Today’s cost is about $5,500.

Where do I see this system going? Some “outdoors enthusiasts” will buy one today. Others will wait until Remington can “compress” today’s unit into a package the size of a telescopic sight. The price will also come down. We’ll see these advances within 10 years. We might also see

some fish and game departments say “No” to 2020 technology. That would be fine with me. I suspect we’ll be seeing a 2020 on the shelf at Cabela’s if it isn’t already there.

Alaska to McDonalds: Fish sandwich

Back in 2001, Mike Hall, Curt Kaberna, Ed Kniffen, Doug Koupal, Greg McCann and I drove two pickups to Montreal, flew to Kuujjuaq, boarded a twin-engine Otter, and flew into caribou camp. Here we teamed up with six more hunters including two Mississippi gentlemen who commercially raised catfish. Through this relationship, I became aware of Chinese non-catfish being marketed as American grown catfish. Since then, I’ve wondered what I am really eating when I eat a commercial fish product.

Regardless of what they are made from, I really enjoy the McDonald’s fish sandwich. While chomping one down last Friday, I noted the following message on the McDonald’s fish sandwich box: “Wild-caught Alaskan Pollock responsibly sourced from an MSC certified sustainable fishery.

Learn more at”

I went to the website and saw a video of Ken Longaker and his boat on the Bering Sea catching tons of Alaskan Pollock in huge nets. While it would be foolhardy to believe everything we see on the Internet, I liked what I saw and I’d like to believe that Ken is out there right now catching my next fish burger. I also like the tartar sauce.

You know, I could get a “big head” from writing this column. Last week I received an email letter from a Missouri reader. He suggested that the piece I wrote a few weeks ago about small-town South Dakota should be required reading for our youth. Holy cow. See you next week when we take a look at a growing moose problem.