Contributors to this thread:
With hunter numbers declining does anyone think we’re going to have better hunting in 20 years? Less competition for land - either purchased or leased? Lower prices for guided hunts? More bucks surviving the hunting season increasing trophy quality? Better access to lands simply by asking permission?
I understand all the downsides and risks to less hunters, and I’m absolutely not advocating for less hunters. But it was an interesting question posed to me over drinks a few days ago and I thought I’d extend the question to all of you...
Will say yes in my area, less competition for land and maybe deer will rebound declining numbers due to recent liberal bag limits, but that will be decided by the DOW of the time, but keeping fingers crossed... Less hunters, more land, more deer sound great to me, but be too old to hunt by then...
I’ve been pondering starting this exact thread. I’m 31 and very curious as to what things will look like when the baby boomers are gone. No indication the western interest is dying with my generation, but I have to imagine the leasing/pay to play/outfitter route will feel the affects in the whitetail world?
I have been saying for years that recreational land values will gradually decline as the number of hunters (as well as the dedication) slide. I am now starting to see that in northern WI. The number of people who are willing to pay the cost of carrying land for hunting just isn't there anymore.
I have helped broker several land deals for clients recently that had selling prices dramatically lower than the sellers paid 10-15 years earlier.
From a purely selfish point of view I love it. I will have my pick of places to hunt and nowhere near the competition I am used to.
From a bigger perspective it's terrible for hunting and conservation.
I'd say similar opportunity for tags, increased cost of land and hunts, but potentially increased trophy quality. Government intervention will continue to limit opportunities, but will be offset by fewer hunters competing for those opportunities. Those remaining hunters will be more dedicated, like most of us on this site, and we will continue to look for opportunities outside of state draws which will continue to increase land and guided hunt prices. Weeding out "marginally" interested hunters could result in better trophy quality overall.
A thought provoking question for sure.
Pat, that's a really, really good question.
Based on observation - solely, no research - I think it's at best neutral. We are losing hunters, but also spaces to hunt. Which paradoxically seems to accelerate the loss of hunters... it's a bad cycle.
Hopefully, odd as it may sound, the increasing curiosity among youngish folks interested in hunting from a "healthy food" focus point - IE, literally environmentally friendly, sustainable, locally produced etc point of view - may help fight the loss of hunters overall. And perhaps those folks will some how stem the tide when it comes to losing access.
I dont know... Long term, it's feeling shaky for "us" for sure...
I think about this frequently. Definately lower number of hunters now from 10 years ago but in Massachusetts they dole out so many more "surplus" permits it has been offsetting. Twenty years is along time. Don't even want to think of it but I think our biggest opposition will be the anti's. The generation of folks coming up behind us don't seem to be of the same mindset.
The hunting may be better, but the younger generation will be too busy taking care of the Baby Boomers to go hunt....
Sure doesn’t seem like hunter numbers are dropping in Colorado...
I think it's possible. The real concern is how are game departments going to function?
They only way the NA wildlife model continues to succeed is to somehow tap into other outdoor users. Hikers, bird watchers, trail rumners, etc. Are going to have to start pulling weight or else.
We still have 8-1/10-1 ratio of hunters applying for available tags so when it gets down to 2-1 then I will be concerned. I do my part to introduce young hunters to the outdoor world along with many conservation organizations that promote getting young people into the outdoors. A couple of years ago when my granddaughter took her hunter safety field day, there were about 12 people under 18yo out of 35 people in the class with half of them being females. I was very glad to see that.
If game numbers do start to creep up, this could be a rallying point for the predator (wolf) advocates saying we need more wolves to control the population.
I agree with Proline, 20 years is a long time, and for those still hunting, the antis will be their biggest concern...
I’m not sure it’s a total negative for hunting and conservation skookum. Let’s say you have a segment of landowners used to earning some sort of rec income through leasing or outfitting and all of a sudden that dries up, at least for the marginal properties. Do they say “well it was a good run” and let friends and family back in? Or do they at least snag a few dollars through state access programs like WIHA, PLOTS, Block Management, etc. Probably a variation of both... An uptick in accessible land could mean an uptick in hunter interest once again as well. Which may inevitably lead to leasing/pay to play/outfitter rejuvenation, lol! Maybe we’re in for a vicious cycle long term.
I don’t see it. I think acesss will get worse and worse. I also think that the over monetization of wildlife is leading us to a European type of system that only the wealthy will have opportunities and acess,
I’ve pondered this question myself. I’ve wondered about it from an african hunts perspective. IF it becomes impossible to import animals from Africa, will demand go down such that hunts drop in price?
It'll be better hunting....for those that will be able to afford it. Sport hunting in the US is going the way of Europe's.....for the wealthy only. It's damn near that now.
I don't see a lack of hunters here in Idaho. Over the past 5 years I have seen significant increase in folks around area's that used to be quiet during the week. I'm talking archery Elk and Muleys. Seems to be more not less. I love getting kids out and doing everything I can to put guns, bows and muzzleloaders into the hands of kids and "SELLING" them on the rush of the outdoors. More than 250 every year with our non profit kids hunting camp. Scooters camp dot com. Over 4,000 kids over the years here. Perhaps I am shooting my own hunting spots right in the foot, but I've killed plenty of critters so I am not losing sleep at night if a kid is at my favorite tree or duck blind......LOL.
With continued wealth concentration in the US, I think perhaps on public land but likely not on private.
In the unit I hunt deer with a rifle, the tag numbers have been down significantly. In the years I've been fortunate enough to draw a buck tag, the quality of bucks is better, and... 1. I see deer doing deer things i.e. sparring, breeding, chasing, feeding, tending scrapes. (in the past I usually saw them running all out from one field to another.) 2. they are more responsive to calling. ...and yet I'm not happy about lower hunter numbers. Mike
Interesting question. I’m 30 and I think a lot about what hunting might be like 20-30 years from now.
I think we’ll see increased opportunity, but it may not be in glamorous ways that some will hope for. I certainly don’t plan on drawing a sheep tag every year in the future.
It’s only going to get more expensive. Government grows, constantly. It’s like a tumor. Government is at its very nature almost incapable of shrinking. As license revenues and funding decrease with demographic shifts, the expense of keeping agencies running is going to be shifted to the remaining hunters.
I don’t think the economics of land use and leasing substantially change. Supply and demand. Demand may decrease a bit but supply is fixed. Actually decreasing due to development.
I think a lot of my generation has kind of rebelled against the pay-to-play games and outfitted hunts. DIY is so accessible with all the resources available. I do expect a shift in that regard and tons of outfitters to go out of business. But then again when our generation starts to have some play money, we’re going to spend it on something.
I don’t have the statistics to bear this out, but I believe much of the hubbub about declining participation is rooted in the fact that we are losing mostly the casual hunter. I think the number of hardcore hunters is growing. I think this is why observationally most of us notice steady increases in bowhunting pressure. I don’t look for that to change either. We may be able to kill two bucks instead of one, but I would expect for those of us that battle it out on public land, hunting pressure will always be a huge factor. We hardcore folks being the types to travel, I don’t think high-demand hunts will ever be easily obtained.
As far as antis the only concerns I have there is that I think we’ll see continued societal pushback against “trophy” hunts. Unless we can effectively reframe the narrative around hunting for species like grizzlies, wolves, etc. I look for that opportunity to disappear. That’s on us to fix.
CWD is a wild card, as I’ve said before if it becomes transmissible to humans, cervids will likely need to be eradicated from the continent.
Conservation depends on hunter dollars through license fees and excise taxes. As hunter numbers continue to dwindle hunters will lose their voice.
I don't see any improvement. I think the hunters that have disappeared are the people that only hunted 1 to 7 days a year and never had the desire to obtain/maintain land to hunt on once this leasing/buying/outfitting game started taking hold. Many of the ones left are the diehards that spend a lot of time and money. Of the diehards the ones that have come up with enough disposable income are travelling farther and hunting multiple states filling the void left behind by the ones that have left. They are getting rewarded with longer seasons and multiple tags because the same number or more animals are needed to be harvested.
It seems the only thing that could put a kink in things is if the number of people with disposable income decreases significantly.
Hate to say it but the way a lot of males are being raised up today hunting will be real good in 20 years because with today’s parents I think hunting will go by the way of cigarettes.....”WE” don’t want you to smoke so we are going to make it real uncomfortable for smokers $$$......Probably start in California with the PC crowd and snowball across the country. Hell, in NY you can’t even get a cup of coffee in a styrofoam cup anymore.
I think it may be a stretch to assume there will still be legal hunting at all in 20 years in some parts of the U.S.
My first reaction is I understand the logic, Yes hunting should get better, more deer, better trophies, and better access to private lands.
But like any cyclical pattern it will find a way to balance itself. For example there seems to be a 5 year cycle to rabbit and grouse numbers. The numbers seem to increase for 4-5 years then plummet. Then begin the rise again. Disease/ predators/ and other factors increase as the population increases, and decrease as the population plummets. We would see the same thing with deer(in my opinion). More predators as the populations rise, and more disease along with that.
In my area I also see more land uses being invented as hunting decreases. For example fat tire bikes are getting further into public lands. More hikers, more geocaches, These will be factors into our access to public lands. We will not be the dominant users of public land and we will lose privileges, to the new dominant users.
As we lose numbers of hunters, we will also lose hunting privileges, seasons, access, etc.
I think. oz
Around here hunt clubs look a lot like churches. Gray hairs and wrinkles.
The modes of access will continue to be monetized but the opportunities found therein will get (even) better than they are now.
Guided hunts - being a distillation of the overall participation - will hold value for decades to come imo.
Locally in the midwest, east, etc...... whitetail country.... you might see more availability or at least lower prices for leases, etc. Maybe better deer quality and numbers? Don't know..... likely be some time before all that filters on through? I think it would take quite a drop in numbers to see much effect.
Western big game, AK, BC, Yukon, etc. I think lower numbers will have zero effect. Too much demand on a fairly limited recourse. There may be overall lower hunter numbers.... but the hard core doing these hunts will still be doing them, probably yet more demand as knowledge, desire, time and money will increase.
Years ago when "overall" hunters numbers were higher..... there was actually less demand for these hunts. Over the years numbers declined some..... but demand for the "adventure" hunts has only gotten higher. Much higher in some states and species. (that reminds me.... I have to do some heavy research for some applications coming up.....)
I do not see declining hunter numbers as an issue, and it is inevitable . There will also be fewer public places to hunt and technology will continue to increase hunter success, with less of a commitment to actual hunting skill, and time spent. There will be a continuing loss of real bow and arrow hunting culture.
There is no going back, the trends will continue. For some species private land and private land habitat improvement is where I would concentrate my efforts.
For those who choose, high P&Y scoring animal opportunities will be available for purchase, same as today.
I look forward to the future with my stickbow. For me it is not, and will never be about the score.
I’ve thought of that too, but around here bowhunting is growing, and not just by small margins. The bowhunting competition for good pieces has grown like crazy. Buying land for hunting purposes was never a thing here. That has become a thing and growing over the last 5-10 years. People keep talking about the declines but I just don’t see it in bowhunting. Look at the record books. Years ago archery kills were different completely than rifle kills for size. Look at the new WR whitetail - killed at 320” not that much smaller than the largest B and C which was a pickup.
Maybe overall numbers but I don’t see them here so I can’t answer your questions and I don’t see it in the bowhunting crowd. Bowhunting technology has come to where any die hard hunter is gonna be able to proficiently use it and therefore will
This may surpass my Megyn Markle topic!
Considering all negative events coming in faster in faster, there is no need to worry much about hunting on Earth. We do not have much time left here for anything other than receiving God's Grace thru His Son Jesus. Soon majority will work only for food anyway. The super-rich will inherit this Earth but not for long. I missed what is truly important for the first 53 years of my life. No more confusion for me.
I don't see land value or demand decreasing at all. We are making more people everyday. With that said, how could the cost of hunting land and leases decrease? Maybe I'm looking at it wrong but, I don't think so because the number of people buying land to hunt on is small in comparison to other demands. I think we will simply be out priced by competition. Making what's left even higher.
I wish I would see declining numbers on the State land I hunt :0( ............ in all actuality, this dosnt bother me one way or the other, Ive got maybe 10-15 yrs of serious hunting left in me before age really becomes a factor ... I'll enjoy what I can till then ..
In a vacuum, only considering will it be better due to that factor the answer could be yes,
but we don't live in a vacuum so what ever gains we would see from less is more will be offset by all the other factors that are putting downward pressure on the sport, such as access, cost, societal pressures, legislation, etc.
net net to me is today is better than it will ever been and five, 10 20 50 years from now the same statement will be true....the current is better than the future in this country of this sport.
With a 30% decrease in hunter numbers in 15 years (what most game department number crunchers predict based upon current demographic trends), everything will change. It will be gradual, but dramatic in some cases.
Revenue to states is a big concern. Then there's the HUGE challenge of managing game populations, especially whitetails. We may see some weird things, like insurance companies incenting hunters in some creative ways. Hunting may become a career opportunity to curb runaway animal numbers. Instead of leasing to outfitters, farmers may pay hunters to thin deer by any legal means possible.
I believe in 20 years those who are still doing it will experience a new Golden Age of hunting, with less competition, plentiful game, easier access, and if animal populations start to get out of control, perhaps better public acceptance of hunting. Somebody will have to do it, because they sure aren't going to reintroduce wolves to Tennessee...
Archery here in Iowa is growing every year. See article above about how archery is taking off in our schools. It seems in northeast Iowa that land is getting harder and harder to get permission to hunt. I have a friend who didn't bowhunt this year because he lost both pieces of ground he used to hunt for the past 10 years. It seems that when I drive down the gravel roads by my farm there is a truck in every driveway at each parcel of woods when the rut is on. So, if there is a decline in hunter numbers I'm not seeing it yet, at least where I hunt. Bow hunting I think is getting bigger and bigger but it seems that the gun hunter numbers are going down. We don't see near as many hunters out gun hunting like we did 10 years ago. Anyone else on here from north east Iowa seeing the same?
To answer your questions, no I don't think we will see better or more deer or have better access to land. Great topic as this was a discussion in our deer camp this year.
As they say- "Pat, that's a great question." We need to have a panel discussion or symposium at the BS Gathering in Omaha on this topic.
With the current cultural trending we will have more tree "huggers" and less tree "climbers/sitters". Public land will be greater regulated by liberals with less hunting privileges and access. Wealthy conservatives will own the private land and they will be ones who can afford hunting.
Hunters will no longer have the role as conservationist. The antis will want everything to live- disease, starvation, survival from wolves could become really serious issues for animals. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg on this matter.
Instead of special seasons for archery, there will be a limited season with "weapon of choice". There will no longer be arguments of trad bow vs. compound vs. crossbow.
P&Y will extend "Regular" membership requirement time from 14 years to 20 years. Most of the "Senior Members" will be incapable of hunting (due to old age with physical or mental issues or dead).
I hate to say it, but with the current trends, I do not see "blue skies and sunny days" for the American hunter, unless hunters get busy an start standing up for their rights and privileges. Otherwise, apathy will eventually suffocate the passion we love as hunters.
I don't know about other states, but most acreage being sold in Texas is for recreational use. I just sold my place to a couple with no kids, 30ish in age, and that's what sold it, food plots, deer stands, and wildlife exemption in place.
I am a member of TexasBowhunter.com and there is always a "looking for a lease" thread going, most of them say "must be family friendly". Always guys posting about their kids, little kids, killing hogs or deer. I don't know how many are gonna continue to hunt, some of them are gonna drift away like my 22 year old did a few years ago, but half or more, especially the boys, will probably hunt some from now on. Some folks have different priorities when they get older, especially when they start raising their own kids. Leases are hard to find, and we have very little public, but the public gets lots of pressure too.
In short, I can't answer the question, but I tend to believe that prices won't go down, and people will continue to hunt, at least in this state.
In my neck of there are way less hunters than 20 years ago but the private land is no easier to gain access to. In fact I believe that the difficulty in gaining access has led to the decline locally. Used to be a friendly knock and a polite asking of permission would gain you a place to hunt. Now you are likely to be told to never come back and have a door slammed in your face. This is locally and I do understand it is not like that everywhere. Of course the population has exploded around me and now there are allot more houses here which doesn't help either. I will add that on the 80 I lease the mature buck sightings have went up in the last 10 years and I believe it is directly related to the lack of hunters. So for me locally access is tougher hunter numbers are down and bucks are bigger.
Not seeing any decrease in demand yet out west. If there are fewer people, then the ones left are more serious about it. I fear for our political future, but lack of good opportunity is what is killing hunting with the folks I know. Maybe that will improve...
I think its a downward spiral... $$$$, greed, and the quest for the biggest buck, elk, etc.. decreasing lands to hunt, overpopulation, anti hunters all contribute to the spiral.. I can't say I see a decrease in hunters, but take away opportunities for the regular type hunters who don't want to, or cannot afford leases, paying for hunts, etc., and numbers have to drop.. As many hunters that buy property up to hunt, there are as many anti's who buy it up to not hunt... I also think disease will eventually have major effect in all states..
You haven't been able to knock on doors and get permission to hunt deer here in years and years. Coyote hunting, maybe, if you have some kind of introduction other than a cold call. Landowners ain't what they used to be. Deer hunting is big business here and they're not giving it away.
Here in the northeast part of Iowa I don't see much changing. Quite a few land owners are still willing to allow bow hunting on their property but come Shotgun season in December and everyone goes crazy. It's impossible to get permission to hunt new land around here. The old guys that quit hunting just aren't willing to let new groups in to hunt either from my experience. I don't think demand or price will go down. I think people that want to hunt will just be able to do so more often at least in the numbers that want to go west.
I see little reason to believe there will be lower prices for guided hunts. Only a relatively small percentage of hunters use outfitters.
Local hunting pressure on pulic land, might decrease raising limits over time, but only where outfitters don't go
Where outfitters are, they seem to be booking further and further out and I don't see that changing
No. Overall population continues to increase and so will land values. Land once used for hunting will be reallocated for other purposes.
The front range of Colorado is one of the biggest growth areas in the country right now, so we have more humans every day. More people = more hunters. In my elk unit, 10 years ago I could count on drawing an archery tag on a 2nd choice with no points. This past season, only about 70% drew on first choice, and I believe it will soon be a 1 point minimum unit. I had several hundred photos of elk last summer - on opening weekend, I saw no less than 8 hunters within 1/4 mile of my best camera location, and saw 1 bull all weekend, who was spooked by one of those other hunters. hunters may be declining nationally, but I see more hunting pressure in Colorado, rather than less.
I’ve pondered on this often and for my job I’ve had to research declining hunter stats. In my opinion, it boils down to a simple question, at what rate will hunting opportunity decline compared to hunter participation? Increasing population, less land, the public adopting a liberal view that hunting is immoral...vs the baby boomer cliff pulling large numbers of hunter’s out of the field each successive year. If we maintain the same or similar “access” to hunting opportunity then younger hunters should see some pretty great years in the coming decades. Of course, there are a great many assumptions that go into that and it doesn’t account for financially irrational decisions such as a law makers imposing drachonian laws on public hunting, which while I think is unlikely, is not impossible. All in all I hold a moderately favorable view from the hunter’s perspective, but a neutral to bearish view from the manufacturer’s perspective.
In Minnesota archery and trap shooting in the schools has huge numbers of participants. The high school State tournaments are big. I would expect some recruitment into the hunting ranks from those numbers. A few years ago we didn't have those sports in the schools. So who knows where it'll all go.
I think the principle of supply and demand holds true here, just like anywhere else. IF there are less hunters and therefore more opportunities, than more hunters will join our ranks. As a result, opportunities will become harder to find, and hunting numbers will decline. All other variables asside, like less habitat and increasing costs to name a couple, I think this back and forth will continue.
Lot's of contributing factors.. Lack of access, high costs, kids involved in year-round sport activities, lack of time, etc.. I own 600 acres of pretty decent deer hunting land but get out less than 10 days a year. Just not enough time.
I’m sure not seeing any decrease in bowhunter numbers around me! There are considerably more archery hunters within spitting distance of me than there were ten years ago. Like a couple of other Iowa guys posted above, I would say the shotgunners’ numbers seem to be declining slightly, but the number of bow hunters seem to grow larger every year.
Seems like there are less people hunting private ground with small numbers of people that have exclusive access to thousands of acres and more and more people trying to hunt the same public ground... Unless things change, does seem like young hunter numbers will continue to decline....
I don't know what will happen. The worst case in my eyes is the deer population will expand beyond carrying capacity. in the process deer will become less valued and viewed as vermin. The land will be able to support the deer and the few hunters left will be blamed for the population explosion. I see it even here on bowsite. When I was growing up any buck was a trophy and poaching was on par with murder . Now folks are not impressed with a buck unless it is a "booner" I went on a hunt in the mid west and the landowner told me to gut shoot a few. I hope we don't come to that.
the largest downside to less hunters is the antis will have more support to ban hunting. The up side will be more land to hunt without the outrageous dollars to lease a property. This is the biggest reason I see as to why hunting is fading, to much money to participate and not enough accessible land. Most of the tv hunting shows give a unrealistic view of hunting. And I feel newcomers get disenchanted quickly.
I’d say yes. But there are pros and cons to everything. Conservation and wildlife management isn’t cheap so with less people splitting the bills it could cost more per person.
In my home State of Massachusetts I don't see declining hunter numbers as anything but a negative. The general non-hunting public claim to be very green in their opinions of energy consumption and protection of wildlife habitat, but they want fancy new condos to live in and malls out their back doors. MA is being developed at 20 acres a day! More concrete and less woods can't possibly lead to better hunting. The loudest voices for the protection of wildlife habitat have always been ours, without us I can only see that protection decreasing.
I believe hunting may get better but only for those who have access to quality private land. Too many of today's folks are worried about liability so getting permission will be the tough part. Shawn
Hunting is almost dead and we are the fault! Do you hunt wothout asking permission to trespass? I bet you do! Look around how much trash have you seen? did you ever pick up any of it? Have you ever helped teach a group of young hunters like ast a learn to hunt day? We all sit back and hope something will save us yet we are not smart enough to save ourselves! Think about it.
Ole Coyote has a good point. Trespassing is the number one black eye for the hunting community, rampant in many areas.
"Do you hunt wothout asking permission to trespass? I bet you do!"
I do?? Speak for yourself sir.
I find it near impossible to believe that hunter numbers are actually "decreasing". Per ca-pita perhaps, but not over all. And to answer your question: No hunting will not get better. Information has become to easy to obtain for the lazy and to hard to keep secret by the people out there actually earning said information. That will not change now that people have found out they can make a living prostituting nature on TV, and online.
In theory hunting in MN should get better as participation decreases. I also have this idealistic thought that the younger crowd might be a little more interested in quality rather than shooting the first buck they see and our buck quality will get better. And I hope I'm still in good enough shape to take advantage of it. But I also have full confidence that our DNR will still be able to screw up our deer herd and make hunting sub-par.
Woods walker X10 !! Ole coyote maybe you do or have and that's why you think everyone does, as mentioned, speak for yourself.
IMO, lack of time is the biggest factor these days. Nobody seems to have spare time anymore, and hunting requires a lot of it.
I do think we will see a drop in recreational land prices when the baby boomers start to decline. Many properties will be inherited by kids that don't have time for it, and will be sold off.
Intersting topic. Hunting becoming big business is not helping.
I've also pondered this question. And I agree with the comments of hunting in the USA migrating to a rich mans sport. Not only for the land to hunt but also the cost of equipment, gear, and all the must have items required to hunt in today's world. We are pricing a lot of people out of this great pastime. Then add CWD, EHD, lyme disease, etc.
How does one define a " rich man " ?
I don’t know how much money one needs to be called rich, but if you don’t have enough expendable income to pursue your passion, chances are, you won’t.
60 years ago we didn't ask permission because everyone knew all the neighbors and most hunted their own land. Fast forward and today people hardly know their neighbors, many of whom don't allow hunting. I don't see an improvement in 20 years, while competition will be down, so to will be opportunity in those states without large tracts of public land. I can't decide if I was born 100 years to late, or will miss the apocalypse where urbanites will be rioting over can openers while I dine on venison, woodchuck, squirrel and trout.
"Rich man" Well it's quite evident many of us grew up in different times. Growing up I recieved hand me down clothes and mom might have added a couple tucks either way to fit. Five buckle boots on your feet. Dad and I built our duck hunting canoe and fishing boat. Reloaded all of our shells, bought used guns and we hunted out of a 20 year old car. We hunted for everything Pennsylvania had to offer, balonely sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and supper. Absolutely formed the man I am today and fueled my hunting passion. I was richly blessed then and still am.
"Expendable income to pursue your passion" didn't then or now define a hunter. Neither does what one has hanging on the walls. IMHO
I’ll be too old to hunt in 20 years. But I think it will become increasingly difficult to find a place to hunt, unless you own land or want to pay big $$ to an outfitter. Population is increasing, land is being developed, and the culture of hunting is fading. I’m a pessimist on the topic.
I think fewer hunters can only make things worse for hunting. It takes money to manage game and the land they need to live on. You also need conservation officers to patrol and protect what public land we have. The animals we hunt belong to the state not the land owners. With out license dollars to manage the game we have the quality of hunting can only decline. Just having private land to hunt on won't take care of the problems that effect all the game we hunt. I think we all understand when hunter's become to big of a minority we could lose hunting as we know it now.
I know the stats, but I still don't buy the less hunters argument. I hunt out west. There are not less hunters, period. And we wouldn't even be having this "rich man's" argument if there were less people hunting. Can anyone here actually say the woods, Rockies and West, are less crowded?
I'm calling BS on hawkeye in pa! Cars didn't last 20 years back then! Ours burned as much oil as gas in about 10 years!
Some may have already viewed these, but here is the latest (I believe) USFWS report. Big game hunting is hanging on, but trending downward. Small game hunting is essentially decreasing at an inverse rate to overall population (or worse). Small game hunting isn't coming back (imo), so if numbers are key, big game is our only hope. Yet, we still have many on here who hope to price out the "little man", so they can go on 6 out-of-state hunts a year, instead of 4. Waterfowl hunting is basically holding steady.
I wish there was better information about national archery hunting participation, as I have not seen much. I would bet that it is still on the incline or at the top of a plateau currently.
Older report for comparison. I hope this one works.
If there was a significant increase in hunting license sales west of the Mississippi that coincided with a minor decrease in hunting license sales east of the Mississippi then overall there would be a decrease in hunters. Most people who hunt live east of the big river.
Pat.... after an initial surge..... I don't think this topic is gonna have the legs a hot princess has....... heheheheh......
Less hunters = more predators.
It is rapidly getting to be that only people who can pay the dough needed to access private land. public land hunting has really deteriorated in the last 30 years. I do not see this trend reversing anywhere.
For the first 20 years of my hunting life I was so broke I couldn't pay attention, but that didn't keep me from hunting. Squirrells, rabbits, ducks, any and all varmints. There were zero deer in ETexas at that point. As the National Forest land began to have a few deer, that's where I hunted. I usually owned only a couple guns, normally a 12 gauge and a .22 rifle. With those, hunted everything I could legally hunt. As with most people, the older I got, the more income I had and didn't have to rub shoulders in the woods with guys from Houston or Dallas that didn't know which way was up. Maybe young guys are not like we were back then, but at least some of them will have the passion to hunt and fish no matter what. We choose our priorities in all phases of life, and some just won't stop hunting no matter what their income level. There are opportunities out there even for those with modest incomes.
More people are hunting the West because it's easier than ever to do it DIY. The internet and smart phones have made that possible, and we have the millions of acres of public land. That, and there are way more people now in the 40-60 age group with expendable income than there ever have been before in the history of our country.
For a couple thousand bucks a nonresident can come west and hunt multiple species. Costs more than that for a family weekend at Disney World.
As far as hunter decline overall, its pretty simple to track. Each state has computerized records of each unique hunter. USFWS can access these databases. We are losing hunters at around 2-3% a year now, which has held pretty steady for the past 12 years or so. Sometimes it may "seem" like there are more in certain places, because there are. But a guy who hunts 5 states each year does not equal "5 hunters".
A rich man (as in "rich man's sport") is anyone who has more accumulated wealth and expendable play money than I do...
Hawkeye.... it still takes money though. That’s all I’m saying. It sounds like you grew up just like me. On a farm with 2 brothers, a sister and us boys all wore hand me downs. I can remember at 6or 7 yrs. old, sitting on an oak ridge, shooting squirrels with my dad. We hunted out our back door. In a lot of places, it’s not like that anymore. I wish it was. Every property that I hunt is public land.
One thing is for sure though, the next several years, is gonna be interesting, to say the least. As for me, I have no idea how it will go. The large expanses of land are west of the Mississippi, and in the east, they are developing everywhere.
I agree with you though on one thing. Money does not make you a hunter, but it sure as heck affords you more opportunities. And I don’t even know how to dream of being rich.
I don’t think guys out west really understand how little public land there is east and of the river. You have to pay to play here and a couple grand gets you very, very little. Truth is, the middle class can’t afford to hunt in many states. And when the choice comes down to either vacation with the family or join a lease, hunting takes a back seat. As it should
I'm wondering if hunter numbers and interest have peaked and is now declining, BUT, it will level off eventually at a lower level and maintain at that lower level. I think there will still be plenty of hunters to fund conservation. We might have to pay a bit higher license costs, but I think we'll still be a fairly large force. Maybe I'm the optimist here.
I live in Illinois. For deer hunting if you want to hunt private land, you pay...period. Fortunately for me it's not a lot and for now is affordable. But it's definitely a "Pay To Play" endeavor in Illinois and has been for at least 15 years.
Woods, I guess Texas paved the road to "pay for play" deer hunting. Deer leases have been reality here since I was just a kid. Either "day leases" or season leases, or a combination thereof. When I was a teenager we hunted in the Hill Country for does each year. The land was leased for the season by a group but the rancher cut them off mid-December or so to day lease it to doe hunters, mainly because the season hunters wouldn't shoot any. That was my first "deer hunting" success. Several times my brother and I would drive from midnight to arrive before daylight, kill two does each and be headed back to ETexas by 2:00 or 3:00 PM. It was more a grocery run than it was hunting. The modern equivalent of that is the game farms. Lots of guys who do not have enough time to enjoy a season lease go one or two times a year for three days and (depending on how much money they can afford), kill one to three animals. I've done it twice myself for axis does, but mainly because it was an outing for my wife and me and I love axis meat. My point is, we have been paying to play for so long here that asking and receiving permission to hunt is a foreign concept to us.
Woods Walker you are spot on for Illinois, you either own ground or lease it from a farmer. The days of walking up to someone's house and getting permission for free are over. I see hunter numbers slightly increasing while more federal lands will be taken away due to the anti hunters. Ranch hunting will become more popular and outfitting costs will go up.
It'll be far better hunting but it would be way way more expensive less people to pay the bill etc.
Anyone that thinks that hunter numbers are declining have not seen the application numbers in Colorado in the last year. Bowhunter numbers have quadrupled in the last 20... Global warming, fake news, all the same category me thinks..... ;-)
Maybe if you guys weren't jerks you wouldn't have to pony up for the lease? Now if you want prime ground all to yourself, then yeah, that will be a bit harder to luck into.
"I think it may be a stretch to assume there will still be legal hunting at all in 20 years in some parts of the U.S. "
This for sure in CA! I think it'll be more private lands than anything, with Federal and State lands becoming smaller and harder to access for hunting...Unfortunately!
I am 69 years old, so I hope I am still at it, at 89,,,,,, with that said, the greatest threat to hunting is not the antis, nor hunting recruitment,,,,,,, to me it will be access to land.....
Most western states want to fully control all of the federal land, and all the areas I have hunted thru the years, Kansas, Iowa, to some extent South Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and so much of Wisconsin, will be leased up, and locked up........
Its a 2 edge sword for me,,,, I fully support the ranchers and family farms, making money off their land, as it should be,,,,, but so much of it now, has priced the diy hunter out of it,,,,, a good old boys club, and the key, is big $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to join
its so obvious on the Outdoor Channel, hey lets lease up all the land, lets show all the great bucks we can shoot, lets go to deer shows, and sell our stuff, and sign autographs, to those who will never really be in the game,,,,,,,
It will get worse, I am afraid, and I feel for the young guys today, ,,,,,, I look back and realize how blessed I have been ,,,,,,, we did not have the best equipment like today, but we could go just about anywhere, including areas in Canada, and just simply hunt,,,,, I hate to tell you what a bow hunting paradise California use to be, add on Catalina Island, that was some place, in my early years
Muley...I agree. Small game hunter numbers are down.
Bowhunting deer is more popular than ever. There isnt a block of timber in the northeast corner of Iowa that doesn't have multiple tree stands in it.
Shotgun deer hunter numbers are down, because access is so difficult. More and more places have one or two guys hunting... they dont want big groups on their land anymore...might shoot one of their bucks...
In my opinion most of this is driven by a craze for big antlers...if deer quit growing them you could hunt anywhere you wanted.
"In my opinion most of this is driven by a craze for big antlers...if deer quit growing them you could hunt anywhere you wanted."
Good point! I agree. "Antler-itis" is addictive.