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Number of hunters falls, worrying some
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rdncktink
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 9:34 pm    Post subject: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Hunters remain a powerful force in American society, as evidenced by the presidential candidates who routinely pay them homage, but their ranks are shrinking dramatically and wildlife agencies worry increasingly about the loss of sorely needed license-fee revenue.
New figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 — from 14 million to about 12.5 million. The drop was most acute in New England, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific states, which lost 400,000 hunters in that span.

The primary reasons, experts say, are the loss of hunting land to urbanization plus a perception by many families that they can't afford the time or costs that hunting entails.

"To recruit new hunters, it takes hunting families," said Gregg Patterson of Ducks Unlimited. "I was introduced to it by my father, he was introduced to it by his father. When you have boys and girls without a hunter in the household, it's tough to give them the experience."

Some animal-welfare activists welcome the trend, noting that it coincides with a 13 percent increase in wildlife watching since 1996. But hunters and state wildlife agencies, as they prepare for the fall hunting season, say the drop is worrisome.

"It's hunters who are the most willing to give their own dollar for wildlife conservation," Patterson said.

Compounding the problem, the number of Americans who fish also has dropped sharply — down 15 percent, from 35.2 million in 1996 to 30 million in 2006, according to the latest version of a national survey that the Fish and Wildlife Service conducts every five years.

Of the 50 state wildlife agencies, most rely on hunting and fishing license fees for the bulk of their revenue, and only a handful receive significant infusions from their state's general fund.

"They're trying to take care of all wildlife and all habitats on a shoestring budget," said Rachel Brittin of the Washington-based Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

In New Hampshire, only multiple fee increases — which produced numerous complaints — have enabled the Fish and Game Department to keep revenues robust. Its ranks of registered hunters has dropped from 83,292 in 1996 to 61,076 last year, according to department spokeswoman Judy Stokes.

"We hear concerns about land access," Stokes said. "People grew up hunting — you went out with your family, your uncle. And now you go back, and there's a shopping plaza or a housing development. Some of your favorite places just aren't available anymore."

National hunting expert Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Virginia-based research firm Responsive Management, says America's increasingly urban and suburban culture makes it less friendly toward the pastime.

"You don't just get up and go hunting one day — your father or father-type figure has to have hunted," Duda said. "In a rural environment, where your friends and family hunt, you feel comfortable with guns, you feel comfortable with killing an animal."

Indeed, hunting remains vibrant in many rural states — 19 percent of residents 16 and older hunted last year in Montana and 17 percent in North Dakota, compared with 1 percent in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Nationally, 5 percent of the 16-and-over population hunted in 2006, down from 7 percent in 1996.

As their ranks dwindle, hunters are far from unified. The often big-spending, wide-traveling trophy hunters of Safari Club International, for example, have different priorities from duck hunters frequenting close-to-home wetlands.

One rift involves hunters disenchanted with the National Rifle Association, which runs major hunting programs and lobbies vigorously against gun control. A Maryland hunter, Ray Schoenke, has formed a new group, the American Hunters and Shooters Association, primarily as a home for hunters who would support some restrictions on gun and ammunition sales.

"The NRA's extreme positions have hurt the hunting movement," Schoenke said. "Soccer moms now believe hunters have made things more dangerous."

Political support for hunting remains strong, though, with several states recently enshrining the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions.

Last month, President Bush ordered all federal agencies that manage public lands to look for more room for hunting. In the 2004 presidential campaign, both Bush and Democratic rival John Kerry courted hunters' and gun owners' votes. A camouflage-jacketed Kerry even toted a shotgun during a goose hunt.

Among the 2008 candidates, Democrat Bill Richardson aired a TV ad showing him hunting, while Republican Mitt Romney was derided for calling himself a lifelong hunter even though he never had state hunting licenses.

Public support for hunting also is high, in part because huge deer populations have become a nuisance in many areas. Duda's surveys indicate less than 25 percent of Americans oppose hunting, although groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals denounce it as cruel.

Most major animal-welfare and conservation groups don't campaign to end hunting, but some lobby against specific practices such as bear hunting or "canned" hunts in which game is confined in fenced areas and shot by hunters who pay large sums for the opportunity.

"As a matter of principle, we should not condone the killing of any animal in the interest of sport," said Andrew Page of the Humane Society of the United States. "But as a matter of pragmatism, we target those practices that even hunters would agree are egregious."

The Humane Society welcomed the new federal data showing a surging number of birdwatchers, wildlife photographers and other wildlife watchers. They increased from 62.8 million in 1996 to 71.1 million in 2006, spending $45 billion on their activities compared to $75 billion spent by hunters and anglers.

"The American attitude regarding wildlife is changing," Page said. "I suspect the day will come when a presidential candidate goes to a local humane society to adopt a homeless animal, rather than go the field and pose as hunter with a gun."

However, hunting groups and state wildlife agencies are striving to reverse the decline by recruiting new hunters. Vermont's Game and Wildlife Department, for example, sponsors thrice-annual youth hunting weekends, offers low-cost youth licenses and teaches firearms safety and outdoor skills each summer at youth conservation camps.

Another initiative is Families Afield, sponsored by three national hunting groups; it aims to ease state restrictions on youth hunting. At least 12 states have obliged, enabling thousands of youths to sample hunting before taking required hunter education courses.

Other programs seek to attract more women, though few promote racial diversity. More than 90 percent of U.S. hunters are male; roughly 96 percent are white.

Rob Sexton, a vice president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, said one upside of the shrinking numbers is that hunting groups are more motivated to seek remedies, such as access to more land and less burdensome regulations.

"There are still a lot of us," he said. "Hunting is a great passion for our people."

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20...MSm4.s0NUE

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ElyBoy
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Great information.
In Minnesota, hunting is alive and well, but it is surprising to see the downward trend across the United States.

Creating new habitat is critical for improving hunting, and thus, getting more people to hunt.
I know a lot of people in Minnesota have quit duck hunting because of poor habitat, and gone to other types of hunting like archery.

Thanks for the great post.

Eric

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keetoowah
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:45 am    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Here in Montana 1 out of every 4 people hunt.
kids do their homework at night in the camps so they dont get behind
sounds like a war with all the rifles being sited in here near my cabin
there is a rifle range up in the state lands where all of us go to shoot
sales are on like crazy, and the kalispell gun show is this coming weekend
cant wait. i'll have money for a 30 30 or a 308 and all the ammo for my pistol and rifle
bow season of course is kicked in.
mine is 45lb seneca
the boys that live next door have those pulley sissy bows and i still out shoot them.. woman's ego. hahaha

hunting here is still a huge event and i have seen no sign of it dwindling here.

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Handloader
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Getting game permits is increasingly a problem in states like Arizona with rapidly expanding populations. For many, years of failing to draw a tag is discouraging and soon leads to the conclusion that it is a vain effort. Urbanization is the bane of hunting and swallows up huge tracts of land. Along with private land holder tags, the costs of hunting have increased enormously.

For many, varmint hunting has supplanted big game hunting. In Arizona, many discouraged applicants for big game tags have found enjoyable outlet with varmint calling. The numbers have swollen. Whether it offsets the decline in hunter numbers, I don't know.

As hunting has transitioned from an effort for supplemental food as a main incentive to, now, sport, the costs have increased significantly. So, people find other options. Kids get more atuned to their video games, their parents are refocusing their money and interests to more accessible outleets. Regretably, costs will continue to increase to offset revenue declines, thus discouraging even more from continuing the sport.

Mentoring the youth is one thing we can all accomplish. Taking our kids hunting and familiarizing them with the realities of nature is also important.

Tough challenges lie ahead.
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1895ss
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Hunter numbers have fallen in this neck of the woods for many reasons. Crying or Very sad

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FALPhil
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:39 am    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Handloader wrote:
As hunting has transitioned from an effort for supplemental food as a main incentive to, now, sport, the costs have increased significantly. So, people find other options. Kids get more atuned to their video games, their parents are refocusing their money and interests to more accessible outlets. Regrettably, costs will continue to increase to offset revenue declines, thus discouraging even more from continuing the sport.

That - and time commitment - is why hunting participation is declining, not urbanization. And it's not the cost of government fees, but the cost of access. Hunting is rapidly becoming a rich man's sport. In my neck of the woods, a hunting club slot for urban dwellers with no relatives who own hunting land is about $800 a season. Furthermore, you have to drive around 2 hours to get to it because the counties surrounding the city have restrictions on hunting. Public access land is available, but access is only a fraction of the percentage of the season on WMAs, and when the WMAs are open, they are swamped with hunters.

Then, there is equipment. Granted, you don't need the latest and greatest to hunt with, but being Americans, we don't want to show up with a Steyr M95 Steutzen with a Tasco 3x9 on top of it, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt and K-Mart boots. That's a shame. A hunting outfit like the type the magazines say we need runs upwards towards $2000. The latest whiz-bang tree climbing stand is another $500, and God forbid you get to your hunting spot in an old Volkswagen Passat! How is a young married guy starting his career in the city with one baby and another on the way going to afford to hunt?
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WileyWapiti
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Folks, it all needs to be focused on our youth - I agree that hunting has become commercialized in many areas. Where I live in Northwest Colorado is a prime example, if all hunting were to cease tomorrow our economy would go bust - no kidding. One of the largest growing sports in Colorado is the shooting aspect of 4H, we have sports shops here that will give..not sell.. the small game permits to the kids who have passed hunter safety. Sure it only costs a $1 for the license, but the focus is on the kids. Colorado DOW sponsors kids hunts which help keep the elk out of the hay stacks, easy hunts, it peaks the kids interest and hopefully keeps them coming back and investing in the future of the sport....or should I say way of life. Please - lets invest this culture to our youth!

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Crackshot
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Well what realy burns my A$$ is that every bit of good hunting land in this area is being leased by big money jerks and they close all hunting to the good ol boys who have hunted and been stewarts of the land in this area for decades. Know we are not good enough to hunt unless we have thousands of dollars to lease property from greedy farmers. OHHH dont get me started! Mad

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d_hoffman
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Handloader and FALPhil, Salute Bow my hat's off to you (shade your eyes from the glare). You guys hit it on the head. It is becoming a "rich man's sport.

Watching hunting videos like on the outdoor channel doesn't help either. People see them using all the latest and greatest and hear them saying that they'd be foolish to try to go hunting with out it. That's the biggest bunch of bull. My boots come from Wal-Mart. Got them on last springs end of season sale. Traded my shotgun for my crossbow because of an injury that keeps me from using a compound bow. My hunting suit came from Bass Pro. It was on a close-out sale along with my muzzle loader which only cost $109.00. The point to all this is, I get deer every year with out paying top dollar for all the gizmo's.

Then you've got the people buying up large tracts of land from the government, for more than it's worth I might add, for starting a "wild game ranch". Then charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to hunt there. I have great success on public lands. Not to mention the slightly rustic '93 jeep that gets me there.

Between cable tv and video games turning them into mindless idiots, young people are'nt exposed to the outdoors. When I , and several others on here, were growing up they didn't have video games and tv was only 3 channels.

Then there's the people so wound up in thier "careers" that they go through life with thier butt cheeks so clenched they could crack walnuts from all the tension and stress that they don't have time for hunting or to even stop for a minute just to smell the roses. Rant

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GroovyJack
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 3:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

We only got three channels if the weather was jus' right otherwise , it was only two , and there was a whole lot more to watch to boot ..

Also stay away from the American Hunters and Shooters Association .. 'Nuff said ..

Everyone pretty well covered all my points already ..

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rdncktink
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

Even with almost 100 channels, a computer, and an Atari home game thing I still spent almost every weekend camping when the weather was good. And when it was bad still would spend time out fishing.

I remember my grandpa talking about hunting used to be how people would feed their family when they couldn't afford food. Now its seems to be something people do when they have extra money.

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brabus
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 8:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Number of hunters falls, worrying some Reply with quote

I know the only reason I was able to get into hunting was through my father-in-law. I don't think either of my parents have even shot a gun in their life, let alone gone hunting. In fact, my dad isn't really into the outdoors stuff at all...he'll ski a few times a year and loves sports, but that's where it ends. I mostly got into all outdoor stuff by myself/with friends. However, hunting probably would have never happened had it not been for my father-in-law. I've always had the desire, but never had a real means of doing it until him. It seems the problem is not just desire to do it, but the means to do it. There's so much involved that I've only began to learn...without someone like a family member to show you the way, it's almost impossible.

Quote::
we are not good enough to hunt unless we have thousands of dollars to lease property from greedy farmers. OHHH dont get me started!

That seems to be the overall trend for OK, unfortunately. I had one connection last season for upland birds, but zero connection this year. Sucks.
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