Where Have All the Hunters Gone? (2 of 2)


The Birds Come -- Where Are the Hunters?


To recap the first part, there’s been a 10% drop in hunting/fishing in America in the past 10 years.

In some states the drop has been shocking: Illinois had a 27% decrease in hunting and 35% fewer anglers in the same 10 years. There are fewer young people taking up hunting and fishing: During that same 10 years, only 3% of the folks out hunting were under 17 years of age!

Those of you that read my postings regularly know I’m no rabid fanatic, however, this issue is worrisome.

All states rely on the permits, fees, licenses and tags to pay for wildlife and hunting land management. They also rely on donations from individuals and groups, such as Ducks Unlimited, as well as many others.

These groups form partnerships with state game and fishing management departments to provide tools, goods and/or lands that these departments cannot afford on their own.

However, they cannot supply the $7 or 8 billion annual loss from hunters and anglers.

Where Have All the Hunting Lands Gone?

How has this problem arisen under our very eyes? In a word, the answer is ‘urbanization.’ Land is being snapped up by developers for houses and commercial property. That land, often, is the habitat of wildlife.

In some states, hunters have to travel so far to find suitable hunting ground that many have given up on the sport. Many have to cross state lines and thus pay additional fees. When there’s no more open land for hunters, there’s no place for them to go. They cannot create new lands.

When MDH was younger, all he needed to do was contact a farmer and ask to hunt his land. This easy system has given way to leasing of lands (by hunters). Thus, lands are closed to anyone without the funds to participate.

For the farmers, the income is needed because of all the changes in farming (eg: he’s not making as much as in years past, his costs have increased {seeds, labor, taxes on his lands have increased, etc.}).

Large Tracts of Land Are Broken Up and Sold

As those old farmers die, their farms are often broken up, leading to, usually, sale of some of those lands and loss of hunting privileges by many hunters.

And guess who is waiting to buy with dollars in his pockets? The developer. It isn’t another farmer, because farming has become such a difficult way to make a living. So the developer creates another housing development — and more hunting lands are lost.

Changes in American society have also contributed to the change in hunting traditions. The rise of single-parent homes has had staggering effects on family traditions.

Helping a son to get his first shotgun and the bonding experience of fathers and sons going hunting are long-held traditions that have fallen by the wayside.

Youngsters are more likely to play video games about hunting, rather than experience the real thing when you have two parents living in two places.

The one bright light in all of this is the fact that women and girls are now trying hunting.  Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, and many of the other hunting/angling organizations are actively recruiting youngsters (both genders) and women.

What Can You Do?

I’m so-o glad you asked. Take a kid hunting! Better yet, take your kid (either gender) and a friend hunting. Hunting and angling are “home-grown” sports; the chances are low for an adult to take up hunting if he/she has no experience as a youngster or pre-teen.


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com