Habitat for Wildlife's Link
Habitat for Wildlife's Link
Pressure/competition for the discretionary dollar
Ambivalence toward the killing of animals
Lack of early indoctrination into the culture of hunting
Al Gore (the internet)
Smart Phones (have we ever seen a more ubiquitous distraction for humans?)
The media and anti-gun drumbeat going on for decades
Limited land access is a huge factor in my opinion.
Our aging demographic
Diseased wildlife, or the perception of such
Hunting is a perceived hassle. So many regulations. Gun laws. Hunter education maybe. Competition for limited access. Cost of admission. Time commitment. And so on.....
Will it die completely, not likely in the next generation or two, but it will become more unpopular with voters and largely confined to remote public areas, and private lands.
Now at least half of the adults with young children don’t even hunt so they get no exposure or motivation to do it and I’d speculate that maybe 1 out of 10 or more turns off the video games long enough to even think about it.
I find it depressing.
Support the P&Y Youth raffle if you want to have a positive impact. We tend to think about our generation which doesn’t matter if we don’t clear the path for the next.
We HAVE cleared the path. At least here in PA. We have mentored youth hunts. We have youth hunts. Sunday hunting is being legalised in PA mainly because of youth an extra-curricular activities. Hunting is no longer THE thing to do, but something to be squeezed in between travel soccer, travel baseball, fall baseball, volleyball, swimming, music lessons, ballet and a host of others. Parents have enrolled their kids in every activity under the sun. Hunting is no longer a priority. If it was, well, it would be.
But I think our opportunities and rights as hunters are dying.
My suspicion is that over the next 20 years or so, there will be an influx of folks who grew up suburban, and without hunting, and opt in due to the desire for "organic" food that's close to home and the mental health component of being in the outdoors. It will be an interesting influx as it will not come with traditional hunting views or ideas, so it's likely that if this were to really occur, it would be interesting. But positive - having more folks involved is good, for the long term sustainability of what we do.
That’s because they want to hunt and can’t find a place closer to home.
Actually, I wasn’t referring to NR in my post at all...strictly residents.
That's the article that Habitat for Wildlife posted as the OP of this thread I think??
Lots of good points, agree with Kevin Dill and Missouri Breaks.
I can't help but think about a conversation I had with a friend the other day who's son just recently informed him he no longer wanted to play hockey. This young man is extremely talented but has completely lost the desire to play a game that is feeling more and more like a job. What does this have to do with a thread about the future of hunting you might ask?
Kids (and their families) who aren't willing to invest massive amounts of time, and money, year around, in order to succeed, are increasingly losing interest in the game. Not to mention they are increasingly less welcome on teams who's coaches expect and demand that kind of commitment from entire families.
The vast majority of hunters have no desire to become farmers, habitat managers, biologists, and geneticists just to play the game. If that's what they are expected to do, or feel as thought they are, they will find something else to do.
Hunters can blame themselves (ourselves) for that.
I can't speak to your specific area but I suspect over all it is a matter of the hunters that are left are being displaced by less private property access, high lease fees, etc.
You can have a much smaller number of hunters overall but if more of them are forced to hunt a static or shrinking amount of public land, it will seem like there are more hunters than ever, but the opposite is actually the case.
Think about it, if 100 hunters equally share 5 parcels of land, that is 20hunters per parcel.
If the number of hunters shrinks to 80 but they are all hunting on 3 parcels instead of 5, that increases substantially the number of hunters per parcel.
In Colorado it's because of human population growth and development is shrinking the available habitat, which consolidates hunters into the habitat that is left. Colorado's population has quadrupled in my lifetime. As a kid, I recall taking short rides from the Denver area with my family to view abundant wildlife. Now, those same areas are packed with residential and commercial development. It's that way up and down the front range, as well as many western slope areas. Hunter numbers have steadily declined in Colorado, and nationwide, over the last 25 years., even though it may not seem that way at your favorite trailhead.
Someone really has to want to hunt these days. And for young men, in urban areas it is really uncool with girls. As fast as hunting is declining among the young, Esports are exploding. Thats a perfect "sport" for obese teenagers.
You hit on a big one there, Jimmy. In my father's generation, a large percentage of hunters hunted private ranches/farms, and were welcomed by landowners, because there was little to no monetary value placed on wildlife. Then came the private leases, outfitters, and competition for the best properties. Hunters who could afford it basically slammed the door on the vast majority who couldn't. With dwindling opportunity came dwindling interest. No big revelation there.
Around home we could get permission to bird hunt pretty much anywhere. Impossible today.
Yep, my Father hunted the same ranch near Meeker for nearly 60 years, I had the pleasure to hunt it for about 25. In the early days, I vividly remember my Father trying to offer the rancher a small monetary compensation for allowing us access and an electrical hookup at his ranch house. The old rancher always flatly refused the money. We were considered welcomed guests. Then his son took over the ranch, and quickly realized the commercial value of the wildlife. He started demanding a trespass fee, which increased every year. We accepted that for what it was, and paid it. Then he leased the entire archery season to a group from Michigan for big $$$, and suddenly a friendly, loving relationship between 2 families, that spanned over 70 years, was over. That was almost 25 years ago, and it's still painful to think about.
How about if a landowner all of a sudden discovers natural gas on his land. Should he be expected to give it away to anyone who wants or needs it?
In my opinion, the problem is not the landowner who monetizes his resource, it's the culture that creates the demand. As long as people are willing to literally pay anything for the possibility of shooting a book animal, there will be a whole host of landowners willing to relieve them of their cash.
When demand exceeds supply, we all know what happens.
Some people recognize that wildlife isn't a landowner's resource, like the corn or beans he grows on his property.
"Some people recognize that wildlife isn't a landowner's resource..."
I didn't say it was. However, a private place grow, protect, and hunt that wildlife most certainly is.
Wildlife might well be a "public" resource but anyone with half a brain knows that without the ability to access it, it might just as well be private.
It is a distinction without a difference.
“Road closures everywhere are great for flatbrims, but with the average age of hunters now over 50, not so great for older guys who can no longer reach the places where they grew up hunting”
“ Horn porn, private leases, outfitting, hunting website owners buying property purely on the basis of its trophy deer population”
"...we should quit worrying about "recruitment" so much and start taking strides to ensure we have a place to hunt by either supporting habitat projects on public land or buying our own land and improving it to attract wildlife...or both!"
Spot on IMHO!
And I get many, maybe most, don't want to farm or do habitat projects for hunting but enough have figured out the mentally and physically therapeutic value of getting their hands dirty and the satisfaction received from giving back. Thanks South Farm!
As a Colorado landowner, I CANNOT control hunting seasons, tags, bag limits, or other hunting regulations. I CANNOT erect high fences or other structures to enclose wildlife on my property. I CANNOT intentionally place or distribute feed, or other attractants for big game animals on my property. The wildlife is free to use my property as they choose, or not. They aren't my private resource any more than the air I breath.
Anyone with "half a brain" can clearly see that distinction.
This is going to lead to a massive conundrum in 20 years. Too many animals and not enough hunters to keep populations in check. Farmers, gardeners, cities and insurance companies will all be demanding that somebody do something.
Good grief, learn how to read. I never said they were.
Even so, I can no more enter your property to hunt public wildlife than I can enter your property to breathe public air.
You are not allowed to high fence your own property in Colorado? Did the state just grandfather the high fence places that are in Coloradoand not make them take the fences down?
You might, if you asked nicely. You'd have to get in line, though. I already allow enough friends to hunt my property...free of charge. I consider it my privilege and a blessing to be able to offer that opportunity to them. To bad most landowners don't feel that way, anymore.
Per Colorado code for Commercial Wildlife Parks (aka: high fence hunting operations):
"All big game animals owned by the State shall be removed from the confines of the proposed commercial area at the applicant's expense before the application for a license is approved. The applicant shall provide to the Division a plan or plans for removal. The Division shall supervise all removal operations. Where complete removal is not possible or management on site is deemed appropriate by the Division, the State must be fully compensated pursuant to written agreement for the animals and/or provide sufficient free public hunting to remove the animals."
Grey Ghost's Link
"Big Game Hunting Park - Issued for hunting privately owned big game animals on private property. No new big game hunting park licenses shall be issued after July 1, 1996, except when a change of ownership occurs on an existing Big Game Hunting Park The new applicant(s) must comply with all regulations in place at the time of the change of ownership when applying for the new license."
GG yea the first item is what most states do when high fences go in. Since the animals belong to the state they have to be removed before the ones owned by the landowner can be released. I think they do that in a bunch of northern states.
The other probably is the grandfather clause.
My point of bringing it up was not the high fence issue. It is a landowner issue. The state or federal gov. telling you what to do with private property is a no no here. I bet you can high fence just not put animals into that fence. That makes more sense.
Thanks for the info.
We are HUNTERS period....
End the bickering or see it all go away.
I agree...to the extent that you buy into the notion that you need the newest and the best of technology in order to kill a deer.
If however, you don't buy into that mindset, the equipment needed to kill a deer can be had for very little money. In many cases, no money at all.
The top of the line bows from 10 or 15 years ago can be had for literally next to nothing on ebay, a pawn shop, or at many garage sales.
A hundred dollar bill will outfit most kids with everything they need to start bow hunting and in many states that includes the license.
90% of it is urban life has taken over rural life. Even in rural areas. Small farms (and the corresponding number of rural families and lifestyles) are disappearing, replaced by larger corporate farms. Paradoxically on the other end huge ranches and properties are being chopped up and sold off into developments and ranchettes by families who no longer want the rural life and hard work but do want the easy money selling off dad's or grandpa's place. Was a time these things were seen as burning the furniture to stay warm rather than the foresight and effort to stockpile firewood, but times and mentality have changed. It is what it is, culturally or otherwise and has absolutely NOTHING to do with hunting. But does greatly effect it along with other rural lifestyles. Another irony some seem to completely miss..... leasing out hunting rights on many of these places are what is keeping the ranch in one piece and not being put on the instant easy money chopping block.
And again, hunting is, um... hard. Hard in comparison to the instant gratification and short attention span of modern urban life.
Same correlation of hunting to small farms. Gardening for food. Canning, DIY butchering..... Dozens, hundreds of other crafts and hobbies. Know anyone who sews anymore? I used to know a good many. Now..... a couple. Soon..... nobody I know....
Close a hunting season.... many will complain and then move on..... shut off the internet for a day and cities will burn....
Doesn't take long to breed out instincts and such of a species, not that many generations to dull them. Look at how fast a great hunting breed like the golden retriever was turned into a maltese or poodle. Poodles for that matter were one time great hunters. (although some breeders claim these breeds are making a comeback WRT hunting.... good for them)
The modern metrosexual is quickly going that route as we speak...... some looking kinda poodlish already......
Just for grins, I went to my local Craig's List just to see what was available. It took me less than a minute to find the following:
"PSE Nova Compound Bow. All accessories included. 100% ready to hunt. BSA Red Dot scope,13 arrows, release, vibration dampener, broadheads, field tips, etc. Hard case too. Great bow to get started with. $50 obo"
Equipment deals like these are literally a dime a dozen, and are infinitely more technologically advanced than what I (or most of us) started with. Heck, I hunt with traditional equipment so it's actually more advanced than what I use now.
I didn't have a tree stand, no need for a safety harness, my camo was army surplus that I wore over layers of other clothing, my rain gear was non existent, we just hunted until we were too cold or too wet to continue.
My point was simple. If a parent truly wants to get their kids started bow hunting, it doesn't take a whole lot.
Hell, I hunt out West and I sure as chit don't see hunting dying. Its the exact opposite. I can think of absolutely ZERO hunting areas that are less crowded than they used to be. I can think of exactly ZERO good hunting tags that are easier to draw. Also ZERO guided hunts or landowner tags that are cheaper than they used to be.
So there is obviously greater hunting demand forcing these economic circumstances. Yet hunter numbers are declining? I just don't see it. Did all the Eastern hunters shift their hunting focus out West?
Or maybe it’s hunters always pissing down other hunter‘s necks.
To a large extent, that’s true.
Hunters with the “do it my way or don’t do it at all” attitude will eventually ruin it for everyone.
Martin Niemöller was right in 1946 and he is right today, albeit in a different context.
"First they came for the
socialists baiters, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a
socialist baiter. Then they came for the trade unionists crossbow hunters, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a
trade unionist crossbow hunter. Then they came for the Jews hound hunters, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a
Jew hound hunter. Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me."
Let go of the drama. Lou called it exactly as to what is causing hunting to be in dire straits.
It costs more than $100 to get a kid started, that was my only point. It has little to do with money, everything to do with demographics. Baby boomers are dropping out in droves.
There was a thread about five years ago with the simple question being something to the effect, " do you think there will be more or less hunting opportunities in 50 years; if you had the chance to freeze what we have today forever or roll the dice and see if the future would be better, what would you choose"
the overwhelming response, in excess of 90% on a long thread said take today the future won't be as good.
My area of southern Ohio used to get pounded extremely hard in firearms season. The last 15 years I hear the occasional gunshot on opening day, but certainly not the barrage it used to be for 3 straight days...then a break....then the final fireworks on the weekend. I attribute a good part of this to access issues. There was a time when trespassing was common and hunters went wherever they pleased without worrying. Landowners complained and the state drastically stiffened their trespass and hunting permission laws. Enforcement is a fact, and property owners know it. I used to have to kick illegal hunters off my farms every season, but haven't had to do that for 20 years....and I don't have any signage posted anywhere.
From a national perspective, I do think hunting is declining due to a shift in outdoor interests. Children who are exposed to hunting, fishing, farming, gardening, butchering, birthing and so on from their earliest years see it as an integral part of their existence. It's just what they do. They don't have to decide to do it at age 18 or 28, nor do they need to develop an acceptance of it. We simply don't have as many kids...rural or otherwise....getting that indoctrination from their earliest years. I notice that very few rural families under the age of 50 grow gardens now, and very few farm owners are actually killing or butchering their own beef, pork, etc. Chickens are a hobby thing. We're simply shifting the culture away from all this. And hunting is often viewed as largely about social success....less about nutritional benefit. It makes it harder to justify (to those who see what we do) as a recreational activity they can support or engage in.
We live in a totally different world from 50 years ago. Us neighbor hood kids lived in the woods. Catching crayfish, fishing for minnows, shooting bb guns and our bows. Could ride a bicycle across any of the farms if respected the crops and closed the gates. Ninety percent of this is either posted now or housing developments. Never worried about a tick bite, crab apple stick wars were common (lol)
The schools all had extra sport activities but very rarely on a Saturday, let alone Sunday. If my grandkids misses a Saturday practice now they not play in the next game.
Fifty years ago money was tight, mom ripped seams out and reworked hunting pants to adapt them for me. Dad hand sewed old blue jeans legs to my blue jeans for small game hunting. Kids and women's hunting clothes were non existent. No hunting tv shows and only a few hunting magazines I never new the difference, might even see a kid in the game news dressed like me. Heck Cabella's was invented yet.
Now it's a advertising world for hunting, new everything, 125 dollar muck boots for a early teenager. Compound bows are a great improvement in weight and draw length adjustability. But 6 dollars and up for arrows a release, rain gear it is expensive. And I haven't touched on side by sides and electronics. Have a good day.
Let's not forget that people are willing to pay almost any price for the opportunity to hunt animals on someone else's land that are worthy of some book, and even more to attempt to grow and protect them on their own land.
When I started bow hunting 40+ years ago, not only did we make do with the equipment that we could get our hands on (and we managed to be successful), but any legal deer was an accomplishment and for the most part celebrated by other hunters and non hunters alike.
Now we live in a culture where people are routinely ridiculed for shooting deer that don't meet some arbitrary standard, or in a manner or method that some "real" hunters deem to be less than worthy.
It's no longer OK to give hunters a choice. Some "real" hunters don't seem to have any problem lobbying to pass laws that restrict certain methods and weapons, and place arbitrary size restrictions based on their own personal goals.
Is it really any wonder why people are losing interest?
"LOL K Cummings, I'm not that poor or desperate. I got one kid a Ross Cardiac, another a Diamond Black Ice, and the third will probably get one of my Synergys."
So much for the hardship argument.
If Americans have proven anything, it's if they want something they will find a way to buy it...
...and then complain that they just can't support a family on todays wages.
" Killing animals for food isn't going away if anything it may do just the opposite. Now sport hunting that's entirely different "
Timex, sounds logical to me. If the sport hunting goes away, the premise of this article is the reduced funding received by all states will place a lot of pressure on game departments to help manage not only target animals, but also some endangered species that benefit from that funding.
That is why I have always been a proponent of habitat management, I think more species benefit and it is a way to offset public sector spending that may decline in the near future. But, guys who like to bait make fun of us folks who also care about the bees and butterflies;-)
One said his neighbors bow hunt, he lives out in a rural area. I asked if he was interested to try it. He was polite and said he did not want to offend me but killing animals that came into a feeder just didn't seem fair to him.
I took the opportunity to talk about conservation, license revenue etc. It seemed to start some wheels turning in his head. I asked some questions and found out the properties are mostly pasture with a small island of trees/brush. That's where the two neighbors have their feeder.
I explained how deer numbers needed to be kept in check and since there was not a lot of habitat there to attract and hold deer, baiting would be somewhat effective. The other kid said why don't they just go hunt where the deer are. I did my best to explain, not sure it made much difference.
But this is not why numbers are down, it's still mainly demographics.
K Cummings's Link
"Why We Suck at Recruiting New Hunters, Why It Matters, and How You Can Fix It"
"Hunter numbers have been dwindling for decades; now the bottom is about to fall out of license-funded conservation. Here’s what went wrong and what you—yes, you—can do about it"
“Hipsters want to hunt. But they don’t want to hunt the way a rural farm boy from Illinois wants to hunt,” Dunfee says. “They don’t want to dress the same way, they don’t like focusing on antlers, they don’t like taking pictures of their animals. But they want local, sustainable, ecologically conscious meat. And within our efforts, there are few places to realize those values.”
For the past two seasons I've mentored two thirty-somethings from the same demographic. Decided they wanted organic meat for their families, they like hiking and camping so this was a natural. All they needed was some guidance. Now they are shopping for used bows because bowhunting seems "cooler".
Recruiting, one at a time.
I respectfully disagree that price is any factor in the lack of youth recruitment. They all have $600 phones, wear $100 sneakers, drink $5 coffee and $6 microbrews. The reasons run far deeper than "cost".
When it comes to attracting a different demographic, it makes you wonder if the bigger, better, APR approach won't ultimately be falling on deaf ears.
At the end of the day, we need people, millions and millions of them, buying licenses and filling them with any legal animal. It is THE single most important thing we can do in terms of wildlife management.
The notion that we are going to "habitat improve" our way out of this problem is just plain silly. Sure, any little bit helps but we cannot create or improve enough habitat to keep up with a deer population that doubles every year.
At the end of the day, on average hunters need to kill 1/3 to 1/2 of the deer population every single year just to maintain the status quo. All the food plots, native grasses and bedding areas mean squat unless millions of hunters are participating and killing enough deer.
This isn't an issue in most of the whitetail states where does are like rabbits. There, it seems to be more of an access issue, especially near urban areas where most of our targeted demographic lives.
In 20 years when whitetails are overrunning everyone, insurance companies, farmers groups, and suburban communities may have to start paying bounties for deer, or even hiring hunters. Seasons and tags will be more liberal. Deer hunting could become a lucrative second job.
I can honestly say I never really thought of it that much in terms of demographics but it does make sense. That's why I found the article worth sharing.
Like it or not, kids are changing. I raised my own in a hunting culture but once my daughter graduated from college, she wanted to move to the "city" and make her way in the world. It's not that she didn't enjoy hunting or that she's against it in any way, it just doesn't work for her at this stage in her life. She only gets so much vacation and you can't do everything. Her boyfriend has never hunted but has shown some interest. Maybe she will come back around through him.
My stepson couldn't care less about hunting but is a literal fishing fanatic. To him, hunting is a complete waste of fishing time. That's OK too. His stepson on the other hand could care less about fishing but LOVES hunting with his father and grandfather.
You just never know.
For some, I think you are right. The point I was trying to make is that it certainly doesn't have to be that way.
I would wager to say that most of us over the age of 40, certainly over the age of 50 started hunting with whatever hand-me-down, borrowed, and cobbled together stuff we could get out hands on. Whatever got us in the woods chasing an animal was good enough for us.
Unfortunately we have created a culture where new hunters (and some old ones) believe that in order to be successful, you have to have the latest and greatest and most technologically advanced equipment, clothing, and accessories, not to mention private tracts of "improved habitat" teaming with "quality" bucks.
My fist hunting bow was a solid glass 45# Brown Bear. It came in a kit with a half dozen cedar arrows, some Bear Razorheads, an armguard, a Kwikee "suicide" quiver and book with hunting tips. The whole kit was about 15 bucks.
Combine that with some army surplus camo, some public land, and lo and behold we were bow huntin'. It would kill a deer then and it will kill a deer just as dead today (as well as every frog, rabbit, squirrel and chipmunk within range).
Disagree on the habitat approach you are discounting. Really is necessary, especially in the Midwest and back east where habitat is becoming fragmented. Education is the key, for example big expanses of native grasses have been lost and states will never have enough to make a difference. Some song birds for example need 200 continuous acres of native grass for secure nesting. By working with individual LOs and coordinating efforts via private sector entities I believe a difference can and is being made.
That won't happen though as there are too many "hunters" who want to do things their own way even when we know public support is eroding for certain practices, like baiting. Getting on some band wagon where we all need to support each other will not make a difference either.
Lou, your background, you know more than most that public opinion counts. It is amazing how many non-hunters you can convince to improve their land when they think cuddly stuff will be saved. The public opinion matters, and the differences between geographic areas and what factors are at play must be taken into consideration.
Increasing public and individual interest in habitat, and as important the juxtaposition of the habitat is critical. This thread keeps mentioning hunter density increasing when we all know that is due to hunting land being lost to commercialization interests, development etc. faster than hunter numbers are declining. My opinion, not worth much, is to continue receiving the support of the non-hunting public our efforts much show we care about all animals, not just game animals. Heck, back when I taught HE we were proud to talk about PR and the excise taxes and how all wildlife benefitted. Government budgets are not going to get any better, private sector will have to take the lead. And that will not happen with buying bags of corn, and Kevin I am not saying that to continue exchanging zingers, it flat out is the reality IMO. Our image is important, think about VA and the gun rights advocates and how careful they were to not allow any negative publicity to unfold. It makes an impression, we must do the same. I take kids every semester to help with habitat projects. After 30 years of teaching, I now have kids that contact me to say what they are doing with their own land. I appreciate that you are doing much the same Lou, thanks.
Granted, we still have National Forest where hunting is allowed if a new hunter can figure out the convoluted draw process and actually get a tag. But the low animal density during season, compression of hunters due to factors like beetle kill and road closures, and the huge numbers of non hunters flooding the woods in fall here, all add to the challenge. If the overall archery elk success rate is 7-8%, that means the public land success rate is closer to 4-5%. Dedicating much of someone's lifestyle and expendable income toward something with 5% success rate is a stretch for today's "instant gratification" generations.
It's a lot easier to do other cool stuff like mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, climbing, frisbee golf, going to football games, playing sports, etc.. which are also cool with chicks, then stop at Mishawaka afterwards for a burger, couple microbrews, smoke some legal weed, and listen to a band on the deck over the river.
Where hunting was part of a boy's culture when we were growing up, it is so far from today's culture that it isn't even a blip on the screen. If a young man tells his girlfriend he is going to learn to hunt, he is likely to have all sorts of hell thrown in his face. The variables working against hunting are enormous today, and it isn't anti-hunters to blame.
One of the most true statements I have ever read on this forum!
Nobody is discounting the importance of habitat. That is red herring that some like to use to suggest that they are better than other hunters or better at "giving back."
If improving habitat is what you enjoy doing, or what you feel compelled to do, that is great and admirable. However, at the end of the day any wildlife department will tell you that the single most important thing the rank and file hunter can do to help manage wildlife" is to buy a license(s), and by doing so fund their management efforts...which includes habitat preservation and improvement.
Anything that encourages that participation, without putting the resource at undue risk, should be encouraged, not discouraged. If that happens to be planting a food plot, installing a feeder, using a crossbow, engaging in a family deer drive, or whatever it is that keeps people interested and engaged, so be it.
All the "I'm better than someone else because I do it this way" chest thumping is driving hunters away, not attracting them.
We can have the most amazing wildlife habitat imaginable right outside our front door (as with the more than hundred thousand acres of "Open Space" surrounding the area where I live), but if people can no longer hunt there, nobody is going to buy the licenses to fund wildlife management. If access to amazing habitat is limited and access to publicly-owned habitat is difficult to reach or overcrowded (which invariably leads to huntable species fleeing to "sanctuaries"), potential hunters will focus their energy on other things. Which is exactly what is happening.
Please give up the drama, this is too important for that. I am not better than anyone else, and do not think so, I know people who put more into habitat management than I make in a year. And I don't think they are any better than me. Yes, I said stuff in the past because I knew it would get a rise out of you, and sometimes you deserved it and sometimes not.
A good friend is one of those biologists you speak of. States are starting to see a reduction in funding and the biologists that care for our resources are doing all they can to encourage private sector involvement. The premise of this article, and why I posted it, is the license revenue is starting to shrink nationwide. You can continue to view disagreements with you as an attack on you, but that is not the case. It is simply two guys who are passionate about hunting/conservation and see a different path to sustain what we love.
To both Lou and you, millennials and gen Zers are not some monolithic group that think alike across the county. Kids growing up in KS no doubt think differently than kids in CO. I am fortunate to be able to talk with many members of these two groups, and have always been able to reach across generations to invite conversation. The kids in KS I talk with do not support anything short of free range/fair chase, even for 100% organic. Much talk here of land that used to be available to hunt is now locked up by big money for leasing. A perusal of the KS state forum would show plenty of opinions that outlawing baiting in KS would probably cause less outfitter involvement and free some of that land back up. I get things may be different in CO and MI, but we are here to discuss and hopefully learn.
And speaking of commercialization, unlike a lot of you I grew up in the concrete jungle with no relatives to introduce me to hunting. I think leasing has allowed kids with a similar background to mine to participate in hunting on a more equal footing with the kids who grew up in rural America. I get many of the rural folks who experienced "free range, total access" hunting long for those days to return. But guys like me never had those days, and without owning property, I would have no problem leasing.
I am not taking shots at you Kevin, maybe both of us can let it go. I bet most others would appreciate that. Thanks.
Please let's not start this dance? M'kay?
I already extended the olive branch. It is up to Kevin.
I wasn't gonna do this...... habitat work and the opportunity to lease is NOT going to increase participation. We've lost 250,000 hunters in PA since 2000. We have leasing and habitat work. The only thing that has increased is the drive for bigger buck. I know of many farms and even developments where the lots range from 10 to 30 acres. Great habitat for wildlife. No hunting. Unless you live there or have permission. Or leased. Sorry this aint the way to recruit new hunters. Nor is the buying up of farms because of buck potential.
While there may be areas that see increased pressure, hunting is on the decline because of many issues. Lack of habitat enhancement ain't one. Lack of hunting habitat is. And probably the biggest factor is, hunting is no longer THE thing to do, but a thing to do.
I am a lousy communicator. Habitat work for me is NOT about recruiting new hunters, it is about securing the future of the resource. Hunter numbers and habitat are both in rapid decline. Up above a couple of posters mentioned loss of small game opportunity. Fragmented habitat that leads to genetic isolation and in the long run the extinction of certain animals in small locales is what I hope to see avoided or reduced by increasing management. The secondary benefit is by making the public aware of our work that benefits all wildlife, hunter image is polished and that will help us, I believe, protect the hunting heritage for future generations.
But I agree, declining hunter numbers and habitat loss are the main challenges. It will take a multi-faceted approach to keep hunting alive. Reading Lou's post and getting an idea that young folks in CO may like "green activities", habitat work may be a win-win for us. It is a green activity and just maybe we can use it to introduce young people to hunting. I know many kids have enjoyed it with me, and some have been invited to hunt with me through the years. Think about the thread regarding the water capture system created to help certain sheep species. I remember lots of volunteers, and a lot of good will created. If we could do that in thousands of places with habitat on a micro level and have social media experts get the word out, I see a lot of upside.
Hope that helps make my point a little clearer. Thanks.
I'm sorry for the confusion, I was responding to your response to another poster:
"Frank, if I came across as discounting the importance of habitat, that was not my intent."
Nobody to my knowledge discounts habitat improvements if that's what your into. Whenever people like Frank accuse people of that, it is nothing but a red herring. That was my point.
I agree with you, access is becoming more and more of a problem. Ironically, often the people doing all the improvements are locking up those very parcels to themselves as well as expensive leases. I'm not saying that's a bad thing necessarily, but it does little to alleviate the overpopulation problem or the lack of hunter recruitment.
Around these parts, the DNR is literally BEGGING private land owners to take more deer.
Simply put, we need more dead deer, not more fed deer.
Lou, Kevin, let me try again. IMHO nearly the same percentage of biologists that tell you buying a license is the best thing you can do for wildlife will most likely say habitat improvements are superior to baiting for wildlife. They would say this with or without deer present because it benefits a multitude of species, including endangered ones, which is a big concern in this article. No red herring, honestly. Habitat management for me is not about feeding deer/turkey as the only priority, I can bait in KS to accomplish that if I want.
EDIT: We took 8 deer off of my 120 acre farm this season, all archery. We do our part, and the "we" is myself and friends who are invited. Just in case folks think I am one of those habitat guys who lock up property and don't share. As thank yous I received, for Robin, $110 in restaurant gift cards, no other money was exchanged, but some labor was extended. Thanks.
I can't speak for others but I understand what you are saying.
The only point I was trying to make is that if a person really want's to get started bow hunting, the cost to do so doesn't have to be expensive at all.
Hitting the woods with all the equipment necessary to humanely kill a deer CAN be done for less than a hundred dollar bill...and in most states, that includes the tag.
Can it be done with brand new top of the line equipment and clothing? No. Can it be done on expensive , well managed leases? Probably not.
Bet then again, that's not the way most of us started either. I know it sure wasn't the way I started.
Ironically, over the last 40+ years of hunting, I've done it both ways and without a doubt, the best hunting memories I have are from when I had virtually nothing.
Your resident VA combo Sportsman hunting and fishing combo license for everything is $100. Our license costs for comparable (except we can only shoot ONE deer) is just over $200.
The median home price in CO is $425,000. The median home price in VA (including the DC suburbs) is $285,000.
I could keep going, but the point is, your example of cost of hunting in VA is cheaper today than it was in 1980, cheaper than many other parts of the country. It isn't cost that's causing a decline in hunting.
But nobody forces anyone to pay $40,000 for a sheep hunt, or to buy a $1.5M house. Hunting is only perceived as a "rich man's sport" by those who want to hunt what the "rich man" hunts, but can't afford it.
I agree. Folks that still want to hunt will find a way...leasing, buying, hunting clubs etc. Someone mentioned they are already finding places to hunt just by asking. That is indicative of slackening demand, maybe not in the trophy areas, but probably elsewhere.
Reading some of these threads, guys who want better trophy hunting are bashing the Amish for brown and down, while others are just wanting any deer. The market will figure it out and hunting will continue to exist for those who really want it.
Maybe those that are wanting generic free range food will replace the older guys dropping out, otherwise even though hunting will continue to exist there will be some species that don't make it. And that will be a sad testimonial that we will share some of the blame for.
"Hunting is only perceived as a "rich man's sport" by those who want to hunt what the "rich man" hunts, but can't afford it."
Excellent points, both.
Unfortunately a culture has been created (by many among our own ranks), that just showing up and participating for the fun of it is no longer good enough. And it's not just hunting. And it's not just in hunting, just ask any parent with kids in school sports. Unless a parent is willing to purchase the best of the best of equipment, send their kids to expensive sports camps, commit their entire summer to "travel teams" and various other events and activities, they are simply not welcome.
To many, that type of player (or hunter) shows a lack of commitment, a lack of respect and a complete lack of caring for the future of the sport and above all, a lack of willingness to "give back."
What an elitist crock of s...
...auerkraut that is.
That’s true, but I think the bigger obstacle to overcome for recruitment is that most of the population doesn’t even know they might want to hunt because they never had.
You’re not going to sell your soul to get Dots Pretzels if you’ve never had Dots Pretzels. Even if you walk past the opportunity every week. Someone has to introduce you. And that is where individual and organizational effort comes in. Who sponsors school archery activities or shooting sports? Get behind them.
A life of service, giving back, is not sauerkraut, it is a Divine Directive. I hope some day you can find peace Kevin and let go of past conflicts.
A person doesn't know what they don't know.
I'd guess the majority here were introduced fairly young to hunting, outdoor sports in general. I'd guess the vast majority of population have never so much as camped, much less hunted. Fewer even drive now (as a percentage anyway) and fewer yet have ever been off a paved road. Hunting? A GREAT many have no idea where milk even comes from, much less that meat isn't grown in supermarkets under plastic wrap.
But even exposing more folks to the outdoors is no guaranty they take to it. There are just a great many..... options. Most a good deal easier with higher levels of instant gratification, not to mention "comfort". Beauty of nature and the sounds of a "silent" forest are lost on many when the cacophony of urban sounds are actually familiar and "soothing" to them. Literally took a couple camping last year and one of the ladies was very uncomfortable being away from civilization..... the next night actually commented she felt "safer" when we were camped closer to the road that night and she could hear the traffic. To me it made no sense. But obviously was how she felt.
That club still exists, and I believe that they still can earn the first day of deer shot gun season off. Not sure if it's as big as once... And the kids definitely can no longer leave their shotgun in the car in the parking lot prior to an after school hunt.
I think this dead horse is thoroughly beaten. Hunting will eventually come down to a battle between the haves and the have nots. The haves will fight to keep their hunting at whatever costs. The have nots will get disgruntled and lose interest due to lack of opportunity and costs, while blaming the haves for their misfortune. Hunting is a microcosm of our society in general.
I also knew a very well known celebrity hunter who hunted with this outfitter. He told me he felt bad for the residents, but sure enjoyed the hunting.
I have hunted the same piece of property for 38 yrs. The last two years have been touch and go because of family issues and the landowner told me I might not be there long. I keep trying to find other places to hunt and nothing so far or I can't afford the lease price.
I hate to think the biggest obstacle I will have to hunting in the future will be a place to go.
I agree that hunting for food will never go away, but the number of people who hunt for food is dwindling along with every other segment. Anyone who can't afford $82 for a hunting license has no business hunting.
With all due respect, I know very well about the plight of those living near the poverty level. I hear about it weekly from my brilliant, beautiful 28 year old daughter, who is in that situation due to a litany of bad choices she has made. She, of course, blames everything and everyone, mostly Republicans, for her dilemma. She could hunt for food and knows how, has guns (at my house) but chooses to spend her time and disposable income on other things, while complaining that she can barely afford food.
"The have nots will get disgruntled and lose interest due to lack of opportunity and costs, while blaming the haves for their misfortune. Hunting is a microcosm of our society in general."
This is so true.
That is already fading. We just don't realize it because we are on a site that caters to "intense" hunters.
Look at the hog threads. Not a word about leasing costs to hunt them. Nuisance animals most want rid of and we still pay to hunt. Whitetails for now are just so much more in demand, the price is higher.
The double talk abounds...we supposedly need more dead than fed deer yet we have people passing up deer over their feeders waiting for the right one and then criticizing others for doing the same.
Some of that leased ground allows youths and others to harvest does, but the willing to do that is usually limited. How many guys ask for permission to just hunt does late season?
GG and Lou are right, hunting is a microcosm of society. Everyone wants the best and points fingers when they cannot find a way to do it. I don't have a $50k truck, I can't afford that and property too.
While I'm not necessarily surprised, it's unfortunate that some can't see the distinction.
It's called changing consumer tastes and preferences, one of those determinants of demand. Horn porn is just a way to paint a naturally occurring phenomenon in a negative light. Were beanie babies toy porn? No, just a market driven by herd mentality that came back to Earth.
There are LOs out there who manage their property and don't care about horns. I know one who took a button buck in the snow and cold and was proud enough to share it here:-)
Pat's hunts are fun to read every year. I am glad for him that he receives so much enjoyment from it. I and many others in my hunting circle would never spend the money to do that. Most of us won't even spend the money on a full mount any longer. Things are changing right now and we just don't see it.
My neck of the woods is much like yours in terms of public land hunting opportunities. We have massive amounts of federal and state land to hunt on. Granted, it's not the best habitat, and it doesn't necessarily have the best trophy potential, but if that's not what you're hunting for, it can be good.
Unfortunately, in my neck of the woods we have antler point restrictions (which is just another symptom of that whole "horn porn" movement, promulgated by the let 'em go let 'em grow, QDM, habitat manager crowd...but that's a whole different discussion) so that puts a lot more pressure on the antlerless population. Because of this, deer numbers in many areas are below, sometimes well below the population goals stated by our wildlife division. While the number of larger bucks might have increased, the number of deer overall has decreased.
That puts hunters in areas like mine in a box. You may hunt all season and not see a "legal" buck , while still having opportunities on the few antlerless deer that we might see.
Some people might assume we are passing up deer just because we are waiting on a trophy, but they would be ignorant. While it's true that we could be selfish and shoot does, in an area that is already below population goal, we know that would only exacerbate the problem.
Some of us would like to see the population in our DMU rebound a little so we choose to let the does walk.
I guess you can say it's our way of "giving back."
APRs are not perfect. Talk to biologists and it is not about horn porn. It is mainly an attempt to improve herd structure that when in balance helps with herd health. Using APRs is a way to get public support and yes, should eventually increase interest and participation in hunting. That's called a win-win.
If you are as concerned as you say, quit baiting and do some habitat work. You can increase the carrying capacity and encourage fawn recruitment.
To a certain extend that's true.
Selling horn porn is a little like selling meth. Initially, some people love the rush but eventually it all comes crashing down.
Even some wildlife divisions have bought into the notion that bigger antlers will equate to more hunters but many are seeing that it isn't quite the panacea that they thought it was going to be, and in a number of cases, the unintended consequences are worse.
Let me know when that increases hunter recruitment.
You are smart enough to know that was not the point I was making. The point was Kevin saying the doe numbers do not support an increase in harvest in his area. Let's all try and remember we are supposedly Christians. I have tried really hard not to take shots and call people names, I appreciate that Kevin did the same on the last post.
Consistency is key in one's positions for me. Habitat improvements are necessary with everything else going on, and yes I probably do push that too much.
Boy: "My neighbor took me squirrel hunting and I killed three! It was fun!"
Former girlfriend: "EWWW! YOU'RE SICK! YOU HAD FUN KILLING CUTE SQUIRRELS?"
Within minutes, viral texts light up and every girl in school knows our young new hunter is a sociopathic murderer of innocent, cute, furry, loveable creatures. He is branded.
This is just one factor working against us.
It won't. Nor will it ever increase overall deer numbers in areas where there is too much pressure on antlerless deer. Talk about bass-ackward thinking.
All the habitat improvements in the world will not increase the deer population in areas where too many does are being killed. In cases such as this, the ONLY way to increase the deer population is to stop killing the does.
How ignorant is the notion that you can kill all the does in the fall and expect to have more deer next year by planting a food plot.
Granted, you might attract a few more from another area, but you aren't building up the overall herd.
A feeder will do the same thing and to a large extent that's why many habitat improvement and QDM folks hate them. It simply drives them crazy when 10.00 worth of corn pulls a deer away from thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of their "habitat improvements."
And God forbid, kill one of their deer before they think it's ripe and the top of their heads explode.
You can call people all the names you want, but your post above showed exactly how lacking in knowledge you are. The reports that you have posted about your own state documenting the DNR is allowing supplemental feeding until LOs can be educated about habitat improvements that will allow for the deer numbers to exist without harm to existing habitat is proof. I hope folks really don't listen to your uninformed postings. Your hatred of me knows no bounds, it really is sad.
"How ignorant is the notion that you can kill all the does in the fall and expect to have more deer next year by planting a food plot."
It never was, and K has posted pictures of multiple deer on his feeder. Calling people names and claiming they said things they didn't...
If this is true, why do folks do plots and other habitat in states that allow baiting? Are they stupid? Or do they know that habitat is a better long term strategy and is giving back?
RK, you were an outfitter right? Would love to get your opinion on that.
What I do have is a visceral disdain for the holier than thou attitudes of some that think that unless another hunter wants to do the same, hunt they way they hunt, or shoot the deer they would shoot, they are somehow less of hunter, "give back" less, or simply don't know what they are talking about if they don't buy into their mantra.
I am for everyone being able to hunt or improve their land in in any way that brings them the most enjoyment as long as it's legal, or doesn't pose a demonstrable biological threat to the resource.
And yes, I honestly believe that hunters who try to impose their way on others will eventually bring about the demise of what we all hold dear. We are seeing it happen already. That's why I'm passionate about it. Don't mistake the abhorrence of an attitude with the hatred of a specific person.
And the decline in public support of hunting is what many believe will be the demise of hunting. But because our opinion disagrees with yours, we are the ones holier than thou.
No matter how much mentoring, how many "youth outdoor days", free youth licenses, "take a kid fishing", whatever, the dropout rate is staggering and they have no clue what to do next.
I Interviewed some DNR spokesmen around the country for an article on this topic. One told me they had effectively given up on youth recruitment and were instead shifting focus to recruiting women, thirty-something men who had dropped out in their youth, and locavores who have never hunted before.
Did they say whether they are having more success with the target groups you mentioned. I have not heard we are not trying as hard to recruit youngsters, wow!
No problem. FWIW, when I make statements like the ones you took offense to, I’m always very careful to include qualifiers like “some” or “many.” I never meant to imply that all QDM or habitat folks are that way. They (you) are obviously not.
Sadly, enough of them are that it gives the good ones a bad name. Just as every person who utilizes a feeder or a corn pile isn’t a beer guzzling rube who cares nothing about wildlife, and couldn’t kill a deer any other way.
You sound like a great neighbor.
USFWS and other surveys indicate that the youths who drop out at 16-18 and never restart list every sort of reason for not taking it up again as they get older. Careers, families, other interests, lack of ready access (unbanization), lack of peers/friends to hunt with, families don't like game meat, you name it. But cost of hunting is way down the list since these same former hunters don't blink at paying $100 for a round of golf or $600 a day for the family to ski.
Thanks jaquomo for that information. My hunting dropped drastically while in school but returned as soon as I could manage the time and finances. Sometimes you have to work from dark to dark for a section of life and that doesn't bode well for hunting. I wouldn't have dreamed of not returning though. Some just don't have the drive or support to get back into it. I hope enough do...
Say that again because it is the truth!!
My experience as well. Glad to see you are a Kansan!
Why access and stuff is harder. We making more people and essentially more hunters even though the percentage is low, YET there isn’t any land being created. What’s there is there.
This is why you see and hear “nobody hunts anymore while at the same time hearing omg my hunting area is crowded” it’s all about how you wanna look at the statistics
I can't argue with that, but most of the outdoor hunting I see being shown to kids, is Deer hunting from TV and adults. A lot of time spent with only a rare reward. For kids it gets boring. Yes, It is getting tougher to find small game hunting spaces for like rabbit hunting or birds where shot opportunities are more frequent and keep a kids interest more, it is more active. The farm I have rabbit hunted and introduced many to rabbit hunting for the last 42 years is being sold to developers for housing. So that it is sad for me that now I will not be able to introduce anymore to it. So now I will switch gears to squirrels, most woods hold squirrels to introduce people to hunting. Public lands are mostly woods at least here in Ohio. At 65 and the only dogs I ever used to hunt rabbits were the ones at the end of my legs. The enjoyment I have got the last few years was watching others getting the rabbits, because it would just wear me out, but I just loved being out there, and kept taking them. I think we as adult hunters have forgotten how important small game hunting is for kids. How many Small Game hunting shows do you see on TV? They are about as rare as finding Chicken's teeth. The Deer Hunting TV shows that are watched also put unreal expectations of what they need to shoot when they go into the woods to deer hunt, how many times have I heard people say, "My kid said it wasn't big enough to shoot.". What have we taught them, it is only about the antlers? We should all know it is not! I am not bashing Deer Hunting at all, I am looking at it as one who remembers what it is like to be a kid. This goes for both boys and girls. If they are only taught deer hunting or turkey hunting, look at the times you need to be in the woods, Sun Rise or a half an hour before, so if you have to drive any distance to get there, it is much earlier than that you have to get up. Teenagers don't want to do that, they want to sleep. If that is the only kind of hunting they know, then no they aren't going to want to do it. Plus they have their other activities they are involved in. That is why it is not only important to introduce your kids but their friends to the woods if their parents will allow. If they don't have any peers to enjoy it with them, they have no reason to do it alone, and most won't. For most teenagers today they need to be/have to be social, think cell phone. Deer hunting (especially bowhunting) and turkey hunting is not social for a teenager. Small game hunting can be social with friends and can be done anytime of day not just the wee hours in the morning,all day, or late afternoon and evening. I BELIEVE if all these kids know and are taught is big game hunting, which many of us as adults have gotten stuck on because it is the only thing that is important to us, because small game isn't worth our effort, then we will continue to see the decline in hunting numbers. I enjoy being in the woods deer hunting by myself because it is an escape from my job, I have more FUN rabbit hunting with others. Which do you think most kids/teenagers/young adults are going to enjoy more: Being alone in a stand hunting or being in a social hunting environment? DANNY
You might be right Catscratch and if you took my statements as being directed toward you personally, I apologize.
My strong negative opinions regarding certain groups and certain attitudes likely come from personal dealings with them in my home state. It just so happens that those groups and attitudes have been the main drivers of three of the most divisive hunting regulation changes in my lifetime, mandatory antler point restrictions, baiting and feeding ban, and crossbows.
The arguments and tactics that they used were/are the same ones that some like to employ here. If you don't hunt the way they hunt, you aren't a "real hunter." If you don't agree with them, you must not know what you're talking about. And the attitude I find especially arrogant and disgusting, if you don't do what I do, you are only a taker and you don't "give back."
” Total number of hunters is up, percentage based on the human population is down!!”
If that was the case, license sales would be up...but they’re not. In most areas of the country license sales are down significantly.
Limited access, EXPENSE, and not being sociably accepted isn't going away and hunting numbers are going to suffer. Let alone CWD and ticks.
This article was posted to show declining hunter numbers will have unintended, and probably little thought of by hunters, consequences on wildlife in far reaching ways including a negative impacts on certain endangered species. Please don't lose sight of that.
Habitat management, something I support, can POSSIBLY help reduce the impact of this.
All of the other garbage and distractions attempted flow from past disagreements. ALL QDM people are thrown into the same category until the person stereotyping is called on it. So are college professors, all liberal elitist, arrogant...by the same people stereotyping QDM folks.
Then we have an actual QDM person besides myself tell us that he is not one of those who have been described here, nor are any of the other QDM folks he knows. Catscratch's experience is exactly identical to mine.
I have no doubt the person offering all of the criticism attracts nasty people around him, so I believe his stories. He relates to us the divisive regulations he disagrees with, baiting, APRs, crossbows. He is incapable of understanding that folks will disagree based on principle. I do not support baiting for the reasons listed above. Many others do not as well, including game departments in numerous states. I accept these experts know more than I do, others are too arrogant to accept these views, or dishonest.
APRs have been placed in the area my farm is in. I also accept them as we do more often than not see better herd structure, and an improvement in herd health such as body weight as pointed out above. I get others may disagree with me.
I also accept crossbows because the biggest group of hunters is leaving our passion because of age and making it easier for them to stay seems a logical way to prevent license revenue from collapsing. I accept others disagree.
With regards to tactics they used in MI, most groups use tactics some of us find repulsive. At a minimum it is disingenuous to attack other people for their tactics when one employs nastiness themselves. It is ironic that a person who states he has strong negative opinions about what happened in MI and that if people want to express they believe something different they are somehow arrogant and elitist is exactly how this individual comes off. Most folks can disagree and move on. Some can't.
FYI, Kevin's post above originally had only the last two paragraphs starting with bold "Total number..." He added the garbage above because he is incapable of getting over this. Yes Kevin, I do believe a guy fortunate enough to own land surrounded by thousands of acres of public land should not use a feeder to draw a public resource off of public land to shoot it on private, especially when no baiting is allowed on public. I think that person should go find the deer, they are obviously there. I think that is what is best for hunter image and is what will protect the hunting heritage from negative public blowback. I have that position because I have read polls saying as much. If that makes me an arrogant elitist, guilty as charged. I bet I am in good company. The fact that the president of P&Y does not support baiting himself was the main reason I joined the organization.
Man up or keep whining, it's your call. I will bet $50 bucks to a charity you will continue to whine about being picked on because other people don't agree with you. In fact, give it a rest for a year and I will send $100 donation to P&Y. We have both clearly stated our positions, no need to keep doing this in public.
We didn't live in farm area but I can tell you how many summer evenings a buddy and me spent shooting chipmunks, ground squirrels, and frogs at the country club down the road.
The superintendent just told us "don't get in the way of the golfers" and "don't leave any dead critters on the fairway."
I live on a golf course now and unfortunately if that were to go on today, most of my neighbors would be calling the cops.
I grew up hunting blackbirds, sparrows, crows, and rats just for the fun of it. Lots of things we hunted but didn't eat. I still kill the occasional coyote, coon, and armadillo without eating them. I feel it's important to accept it's ok to kill some animals for reasons other than personal sustenance. I fear that knowledge is quickly going away.
The lack of places to hunt is also caused by the advancement of "clean" farming. In MO/KS, so many of the draws or corners that held woods/brush/grassland are being bulldozed under to make room for today's larger equipment. Economies of scale are dictating eliminating non-productive areas.
I support leasing to the extent if farmers can earn revenue from leasing and realize they don't have to turn every inch of habitat into production to be profitable it may help with the habitat fragmentation taking place. This is not a popular position no doubt.
Let's not forget that not everyone defines "challenge" the same way. Some people challenge themselves with antlers, some with habitat, some with equipment, some with methods, etc., etc., etc..
Furthermore, I think it is a mistake to assume that young people don't like challenging themselves just because their challenge doesn't happen to coincide with our challenge.
And lastly, if the next generation truly is a bunch of lazy basement dwellers, that's our fault. After all, we raised them.
As if hunting is reserved for men only.
Ohio general population in 2018: 11.7 million. Ohio hunting licenses sold in 2018: 390,268.
That's almost a 44% decline in licenses sold over a 60 year span...and my lifetime. In 2019 the number of licenses sold dropped by another 14,000 hunters to 376,435.
It's interesting to understand that....despite a decline of those 14,000 hunters, the state's deer take for 2019-2020 was UP by 12,000 deer. This says something about our deer population, hunter success, or both. It appears we have fewer hunters here than ever before, and they are more successful than ever. Personally I think part of it is that little attention is given to small game in Ohio, compared to 50 years ago. I can't remember the last time I saw a gang of beagles and bunny hunters anywhere. Squirrel hunting is almost passe here. Hunting for furbearers is mostly about coyotes.
I believe in many instances (of crowded landscapes) we're seeing focal hunting pressure and competition. By that I mean hunters converging on a popular state/region/area to hunt a popular species at a popular (or limited) time. The early October woods here in Ohio are largely quiet in terms of gunshots and bow pressure. But check again on November 15 and see what's happening. There is much pressure to bowhunt during the peak rut period....maybe more than the general firearms season.
What I think some of us are seeing is a shift in hunter preference toward larger game species. Meanwhile small game goes largely ignored. I recall being in the pre-dawn woods on the opener of squirrel season. As the woods brightened gunshots would be heard in many directions in the hills. Statewide, tens of thousands of squirrel hunters avidly hunted them. Today I simply don't see a squirrel hunter, and the biggest number are getting killed by cars.
In 1958 Ohio had essentially NO whitetail deer to speak of, and NO wild turkeys to hunt. Over 692k licensed hunters took to the fields.
In 2019 Ohio has abundant deer and turkeys, but only 376K licensed hunters chasing them.
It may be unique to Ohio, but I doubt it. Guys complain here (Ohio) about hunting pressure, but what if we had 600k hunters hitting the deer woods every fall? The truth is we have more deer hunters by far than say in 1960, but our overall hunter numbers are severely down and declining steadily. The endangered species just may be us.
Frank, Not sure about Ohio, but in PA it IS because of the xbow. Since 2000, we've lost about 250,000 licensed hunters. From a peak of about 1,000,000 to around 750,000. In 2009 xbows were legalized in PA. The archery ranks grew from 275,000 to 325,000. Over 1/2 of our archery kill is now from xbows.
Thanks. Do they have stats like the average age of crossbow hunters? Wondering if this is mainly older folks trying to remain hunters, or rifle guys getting in on the rut?
As well as a shift in hunter preference in terms of weapon. Here in Michigan, we aren't experiencing an increase in hunters overall, but we are seeing the crossbow cannibalize other weapons/seasons.
In other words, less hunters overall, less deer taken overall, but a larger percentage of them are being taken by crossbows during archery season.
No they don't have age related data. What I can tell you from being in the woods, Lancaster Archery, Kinseys and other archery shops, it's bowhunters on the younger side. The ones my age (58) that are using them, for the most part, is health related. A good friend who's in his early 30's sends me pics all season long of the deer his buddies (same age) have killed. The vast majority are xbow kills.
The attraction, other than the "coolness" factor, is they don't have time to practice, set up and forget, increased range, ease of use, ability to brace on a shooting rail, or shooting sticks,...........GAH!!!!!!!!
A survey of deer hunters was conducted following the 2018 hunting seasons to estimate hunter participation, harvest, and hunting effort.
In 2018, an estimated 554,331 hunters spent 7.5 million days afield. Statewide, the number of people hunting decreased significantly by 3% between 2017 and 2018.
Hunters harvested about 361,000 deer. Harvest decreased significantly by 4% between 2017 and 2018. Statewide, nearly 49% of hunters harvested a deer in 2018. About 22% of hunters took an antlerless deer and 35% took an antlered buck. Approximately 15% of deer hunters harvested two or more deer of any type. About 5% of hunters statewide harvested two antlered bucks.
Levels of satisfaction with the number of bucks seen, deer harvested, and overall experience in 2018 were not significantly different from 2017; however, satisfaction with the number of deer seen decreased significantly in 2018. Statewide, 52% of hunters were satisfied with their overall hunting experience in 2018.
About 202,600 hunters used a crossbow during the 2018 archery season, and they harvested approximately 74,700 deer with the crossbow. About 18% fewer individuals purchased a deer hunting license in 2018 than ten years ago in 2008. Although the overall number of license buyers declined from 2008, an increased number of people younger than 12 years of age andpeople older than 54 purchased a license in 2018. About 10% of the license buyers in 2018 were younger than 17 years old. Among hunters who harvested a deer in 2018, 84% shared their venison with somebody. Sharing occurred most frequently among members of hunters’ households (58%), relatives (43%), and friends, neighbors, or coworkers (39%). Hunters who shared did so with an average of 5.5 people. The 2018 estimates of venison sharing were similar to estimates reported in 2013; thus, it doesn’t appear that hunters have altered the frequency and extent that they share venison since CWD was discovered among Michigan wild deer in 2015. An estimated 134,644 hunters took 161,824 deer to a commercial meat processor in 2018 (i.e., 45% of the harvested deer). About 40% of hunters supported the new discounted antlerless license that was available for use on private land in the 16-county CWD Management Zone, and about 39% of hunters supported making this new license type available in their preferred hunting area.
Tom, I am inclined initially to still support it if it keeps people in the field. I use a compound, but the way I understand initial archery seasons, they were for traditional equipment. I use a release, multi-pin sight, drop away rest etc. I also have a range in my back yard.
A close friend hunts my farm with me and took 2 deer with his crossbow. Suffered a severe shoulder injury a few years ago from a tree stand fall. Both deer were killed at less than 12 yards. I am OK with it but I understand the concern for those hunting on public.
I've mentored 3 young men in the sport of bowhunting, all in their 20's, and all of them are addicted. Now, one of them is my regular hunting partner. 2 of the 3 are now married with wives who fully support their hunting. One has young kids who I'm sure will be exposed to hunting at an early age.
Based on my experience, If you want to recruit hunters (which I don't think many hunters do), recruit young adults in their 20's. That seems to be a time in their lives when they really take to it, and it sticks.
Embracing different ideas, accepting them, and the old "agree to disagree now lets go have coffee and enjoy life" mentality would help further recruitment I suspect.
GG had the point of helping folks in their post collegiate or early 20's get involved... I think those folks and women form great areas to help expand what we do. My wife really enjoys it, and started when she was in her late 20's. Now our daughter just thinks it's normal for women to hunt, she's surprised that other moms or girls dont - ha!
I also think a great ally in this are folks keen on the environment and it's protection from all areas. There are young people who are nervous about hunting due to stereotypes... but if presented with kindness and openness, they may very well either become neutral, or actually grow curious, and hope to try it.
There are a lot more folks that dont get to enjoy this activity we all love. If we present it really well to them, some will become curious.
I think it's more of a shift than retention. At least from PA's numbers anyway. I know a big part of the push was to recruit young hunters.... I just have mixed feelings about a six year old standing over a deer they just killed. Not sure if they understand the ramifications of what just took place. OTOH, they are out, hunting, enjoying the outdoors instead of sitting inside or wrapped up in structured activities 24/7. And xbows for everybody hasn't stopped the downward trend of hunter numbers.
What it has done, has led to a push for increased technology in PA's primitive season. We have the only flintlock season in the country. It's 2-3 weeks long right after Christmas. There has been a concerted effort to allow scoped in-lines in this season. Now our PA flintlock season is a non starter for herd management. They simply don't kill enough deer. Their argument is "It's a muzzleloader". Yes........and no. My inline will shoot 1-1/2" groups at 100 yards, all day long. It's basically a single shot rifle. It's not by any way comparable to a flintlock. Same with xbows.
Just ramblin' here...... I use a bow cuz I love the challenge. I use a flintlock for the same reason. Both are basically short range weapons...at least in my hands. And I love big racks as much as the next guy, but if a year and half old doe, or six point walks by, chances are I'm dropping the string or hammer. And happier than hell to do it!
Smilin' here. Good on you!
Always nice to look at the actual numbers instead of relying on anecdotal info heard at the bow shop or coffee shop. :) KPC
"A survey of Michigan deer hunters was conducted following the 1998-99 deer hunting season to determine deer harvest and hunter participation. Deer were pursued by 836, 961 hunters."
"In 2007, an estimated 683,000 hunters spent 9.7 million days afield."
"In 2018, an estimated 554,331 hunters spent 7.5 million days afield."
No wonder wildlife departments are freaking out. In two decades Michigan lost almost 35% of their deer hunters.
It will be very interesting to see what affect the state wide baiting and feeding ban had on the 2019 season.
This is not aimed at you...
If there is a significant drop in license sales as the result of a ban on baiting, that will be disappointing. It will reinforce the line of thought that SOME hunters could not harvest a deer without baiting.
And if the drop is significant, I guess I would have to support allowing baiting again for the good of the resource, at least in the short run. Hopefully the lost revenue can be replaced in the long run. More states need to consider what MO has, a statewide tax to support conservation. Probably not a political reality but IMHO more than sportsmen and women need to be supporting conservation.
how does that work............the "public" is voting us to a slow extinction when we don't cost them anything and you are suggesting we start to hit their wallets? That will win some friends for sure.
Exactly. One of the reasons I think hunters are their own worst enemies. We will eat our own until there is nothing left to eat. All under the guise of purity and public (non-hunting) perception.
I fear, at least in Michigan, we may have to chalk another one up to "careful what you wish for, you just might get it."
Keep chipping away. First it's this method, and then it's that weapon, and before you know it, it's all gone. Probably not in my lifetime, but eventually.
Some will accuse me of being "dramatic," but the numbers don't lie.
Revenue is important for sure, but there absolutely MUST be hunters dropping the string and pulling the trigger on 1/3 to 1/2 of the deer herd every year. If that doesn't happen, the resource, the habitat, and public property is going to be in a world of hurt in short order.
All the private land habitat improvements in the world won't fix that.
I understand the concern about tax revenue, and called out the reality of trying to have all taxpayers contribute. Yet, MO somehow educated their citizens and do have their backing. A few times folks have tried to yank away the tax revenue or redirect it and they have been shot down, so far. This may still be a viable, long term, strategy. Educating the public using social media experts might have some potential? An option to consider possibly? Maybe studying what MO did and any similarities other states can copy?
I understand the argument that chipping away makes, and certainly one should consider the credibility of it. But looking at hunting through the years, we have changed what is acceptable, and ethical standards continue to evolve. Public opinion has to be considered IMHO, that is the reality like it or not.
The revenue is important for all species, most here recognize where at least some of us stand on that. In terms of some methods helping control herds and whether or not we should continue with the same path is a good discussion to have and there will be solid view points on both sides. I understand and hear what you are saying Kevin.
The elk in Idaho that were recently harvested by sharp shooters, it seems the public understands steps must be taken on occasion when numbers get out of whack with habitat. Here locally, a few years back a city park, albeit a large one, had deer numbers out of control. They tried allowing bow hunters while the park was open and that was a disaster. They ended up closing the park for one or two days and brought in sharp shooters who took care of things quickly and out of sight of the public. Very little outcry as people understood why, especially since the Conservation Department was involved and did a good job educating folks. I understand this approach, and in this area at least an approach like this will probably be accepted more and tarnish less the image of hunters in general. Others will understandably disagree.
Regarding the habitat management/manipulation I am always pushing...I and no one else I know believes this is a panacea for hunter recruitment, herd control, land access, etc. Most biologists will talk about habitat loss/fragmentation as a huge challenge, probably one that even we hunters do not readily identify. Please try and not use one's QDM experiences as representative all of habitat folks or that any of us are claiming it accomplishes anything other than what we have conveyed. Again, I saw this article as a way to bring some attention to habitat loss and it's affects on game and non-game species, and how future revenue stream reductions will have an even greater negative impact. As a conservative one hopes the free market private sector may offset some of the future negative forces predicted. If I did a lousy job explaining that, my apology. And you are free to disagree, obviously;-) Thanks.
All I know is, both you and I will continue to provide habitat that wildlife can live on year around without relying on feeders, high fences, or the measly price we pay for government wildlife management purposes via tag prices. Someone will buy or inherit our properties, and hopefully maintain that ideology for future generations to enjoy. Others will blame us for selfishly "controlling" the wildlife at the detriment of the average Joe hunter. They can kiss our asses, when private properties with proper wildlife management are the only places where a quality hunt can be enjoyed.
Carry on, brother, I'm in your camp.
There you have it. This attitude is emblematic of why we are in the situation we are in.
Is it any wonder we are losing hunters in droves?
Knowing Matt, he probably said that knowing he would get a rise out of some. Another way might have been to say we should all realize by now what is happening to access and opportunity and each of us must take our own steps to ensure we will be able to continue hunting down the road.
No doubt some of his reaction is due though to the criticism frequently mentioned on sites like this towards private LOs who have "locked-up" hunting for everyone else. Many don't realize the sacrifices made for average Joes to purchase land, though I know you do. And many probably don't realize habitat improvements taken with sometimes great expense and sacrifice also benefit surrounding properties. Usually only the negatives are pointed out, and it does wear on a responsible LO trying to do things properly.
Neat story going from KY to CO, and you have multiple species you can apply for each year. Owning land eliminates a lot of opportunities for me like the ones you enjoy. Good for you, makes me wonder at times if a land purchase was worth it. Thanks for sharing.
Accept the reality, or continue to live in denial. Private land with quality hunting is the last bastion for all hunters. Do your part and don't rely on the government to do it for you. It's your choice.
And the hits just keep on coming.
The average Joe public land hunter, or even the average private land owner who doesn't do it the way some would have you believe is "properly" and "responsibly," just isn't welcome.
In the words of one of the truly great philosophers, Tupac Shakur:
"If you let a person talk long enough you'll hear their true intentions."
And what do you mean by "not welcome"? Speaking strictly for me, but assuming Matt would agree, I welcome anyone to find a legal way to pursue their hunting dreams and am excited for all who do. I assume you don't leave your cabin door open with a sign letting anyone who wants to use it to hunt there is "welcome" to do so? Or maybe you do? If so, that is commendable but not something I am willing to copy.
Yes they do for you. Most people would quit trying, but that doesn't stop you. Keep trying, it's comical.
Can't help most of you but GG time for you to go catch Tarpon:)
I don’t think it‘s my imagination that I see some of the pasty anti’s at protest who’s eyes are slowly moving to the sides of their heads. Skulls are smaller and narrower too.
Wonder what they taste like??
60 years ago about 7% of Ohioans bought licenses to hunt. Today the percentage is 3% and headed downward. It bodes trouble if the trend doesn't reverse, and I don't see signs of it reversing.
Oklahoma seems to be one of the few states that is bucking the trend of cratering hunter numbers. Maybe other states could/should look to them as a model. What do you think you are doing different? What makes OK an outlier in terms of retaining hunter numbers?
As I stated earlier, the three most divisive hunting regs, at least in my lifetime have been mandatory antler point restrictions, baiting, and crossbows during bow season.
I'd be curious to know where OK stands on those three issues?
I friend explained the concept to me this way......an Olympic size pool that leaks a gallon a day will eventually be empty if the hose putting water into it is only adding a half gallon a day.
there was information shared a number of years ago about the average age of the hunter in the US and it was something to the effect every 10 years the average age of the hunter gets a tad over two years older. the information was making the point the youth hunter population is not exceeding or even just replacing the dying or dropping out population
Started another 5 kids hunting with similar results with eventual loss of interest. Have not started any of them before age twelve. Not sure that would have made a difference or not.
Have a twelve year old niece that loves shooting a bow but so far has no interest in hunting.
It looks like OK is doing everything it can to encourage hunters and hunting by allowing hunters the latitude to employ the methods and weapons they prefer, on the animals they feel are worthy of harvest. Good for you guys.
I suspect my state got it right with the expansion of weapons (crossbows), but in my opinion they have succumbed to pressure by interest groups in terms of going the other way in terms of chosen methods and take (mandatory antler point restrictions and the use of bait)
I guess we will see if we can expand by contracting...but I have my doubts.
Habitat for Wildlife's Link
Baiting probably was not used much in the farm land in southern MI though since farm land hunting is so much easier, I think someone said?
The farthest back I could find that particular chart is 1999.
Quite a shift in 20 years.
No doubt you guys are bucking the national trend and that might continue to help your state continue to go against the prevailing winds. I believe PR revenue is portioned out based on license sales in each state?
Good job men, and ladies!
Valid points also.
Michigan is almost 30% public land so comparing it to states like Oklahoma at 3% or Kansas at 2% is tricky.
Heck, Michigan is one of those states where it's a fools errand to even compare the two peninsulas let alone the northern half vs the southern half of the lower peninsula.
They are like completely different states in terms of land patterns in general, public vs private, ag vs non-ag, and overall political "culture."
The 1999 graph shows max deer hunting licenses at about ages 36-42.
The 2018 graph shows max licenses at about age 54-60.
If you take the 36-42 year old group from '99 and age it forward 19 years, it becomes the 54-60 group in 2018.
Just thought that was interesting and shows how stagnant Michigan is in terms of recruiting and retaining younger deer hunters. It also makes me wonder what other factors or things were occurring during those intervening 19 years. I also wonder what will happen when that 54-60 group ages out of hunting and there is no big bump behind it.
Exactly the challenge the article cites!
Exactly. You can watch that wave progress and unless we get our stuff together, we are going to be in serious trouble when it crests.
I realize it's anecdotal but I know a number of people that have just found better things to do. They're tired of the battles over crossbows, bait, antler point restrictions, special seasons etc..
This is why I'm so curious to see what the 2019 Survey Reports shows after the first year of the state wide bait ban.
Just the opposite reaction from all of my neighbors and folks they lease to after APRs went in for MO. Do most hunters care, much less even know the disagreements you reference? Marginally it may effect a few people in deciding to discontinue hunting, but statistically it is probably insignificant.
K Cummings's Link
While it's not my intent to turn this into a bait -vs- no bait argument (the author actually makes good points on both sides) there are some valid points to consider in terms of the hunter retention angle.
"Personally, I don’t think a bunch of bait piles scattered across the landscape is really a good thing for the deer herd. Bait congregates deer, particularly in the late summer and again in the late winter, and that makes it easier for them to swap spit, which could mean swapping infectious prions. For me, a baiting ban wouldn’t mean too much—a tougher early season, maybe, but not much difference over the long haul.
But my hunting situation is different than most. I have plenty of very good places to go and plenty of time to hunt. I don’t think a baiting ban is enough of a silver bullet in the CWD fight to tell weekend hunters they should stop doing it. It will absolutely affect their success rate. Can they learn to hunt without it? Sure. But that’s not the point. The idea is to not give them another reason to quit."
Anyone who thinks Michigan hunters aren't engaged enough to have a strong opinion on different regulations, quite simply doesn't know much about Michigan hunters.
When the author of the linked article uses germs like "backlash, "contentious," and "anarchy," people in states like Michigan know full well he's not being hyperbolic.
Agreed, valid points on BOTH sides. Thanks.