How Do We Stop the Decline in Hunting?
Kevin Felts 10.27.17
It is no secret the number of hunters has been decreasing over the decades. There are numerous reasons for the decline. Access to hunting land is one of the biggest challenges. Cost and time are other issues.
For example, hunting leases across the nation are being sold to developers. As urban populations swell, hunting land that used to be just outside the city limits is now a developed neighborhood. Due to this, people have to drive farther to hunt.
On page 14 of the November 2017 issue of Shooting Illustrated there is an article which states: “We must stop the decline in hunting.” The piece was authored by Pete R. Brownell.
Mr. Brownell talks about how the decline in hunting is partially due to organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
I feel Mr. Brownell is not even close to hitting the target. One of the biggest issues with hunting is the cost.
Every year I buy a resident combo hunting, fishing, salt water, and public lands hunting license. The cost of this license runs around $100.
For a little more than a decade, my dad, brother, and I were on a hunting lease. Every year, the cost of the lease went up around $50. Our final year on the lease, each of us paid $1,150. The following year, the cost would have been around $1,200.
Timber companies know people will pay for access to their land. Since the goal of the company is to make a profit, they are squeezing hunters for every penny they can get. While I was on the hunting lease, I saw many people leave because of the cost. These members were replaced with high-income earners such as lawyers, who lived a hundred miles away.
Then there’s the cost of driving back and forth to the lease. Some hunting leases require members to check on their area several times a year. One guy I used to work with lived six hours away from his hunting lease. His lease required him to drive out there, check on his part of the property, then drive home. Due to the distance, this took a whole weekend. He was only on that lease for a couple of years.
In a few more years, access to hunting leases may be a luxury reserved for the wealthy. Everyday working-class people have enough problems paying their bills, much less forking out well over $1,000 to be on a hunting lease on top of the cost of hunting licenses.
What about public hunting lands? The public hunting lands in my area do not allow camping during hunting season. People from out of town have to find somewhere to stay just so they can hunt on public lands. Of course, this increases their expenses.
There are some public hunting lands on the Angelina River near Jasper, Texas where people can camp, but those campsites are only accessible by boat.
I do not know what the solution is.
One thing that would help would be for public hunting lands to have camping areas. This would allow people to go on multi-day hunts deep into the public hunting lands. As it stands right now, public hunting lands in Texas are walk-in only.
Timber companies usually get big tax breaks from the state. Why not pressure the state to end the tax breaks if timber companies charge more than a certain amount for hunting leases?
Why should taxpayers subsidize timber companies, and then have to pay some extravagant amount of money to hunt on timber company land? It is a win-win for the timber company.
Regardless of what direction we go, it seems the deck is stacked against hunters.