Hunting Loses Ground While Fishing Gains
Kevin Felts 11.28.19
Over the past few decades there has been a gradual decrease in the number of hunters, while there has been a steady increase in the number of fishermen. According to the Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2016 the numbers broke down to:
- 35.8 million anglers
- 11.5 million hunters
Let’s look at historical numbers:
- In 1996 there were 29.8 million fishing licenses sold.
- In 1996 there were 15.1 million hunting licenses sold.
Over the past 20 years we lost an estimated 4,000,000 hunters but gained around 6,000,000 anglers.
Keep in mind that while the number of hunters declined by an estimated 4 million people, population of the United States increased from 268 million to 323 million (numbers were rounded to the nearest million).
That is an increase of 55 million people, but the number of hunters decreased by 4 million.
Chances are there is no single cause for the decrease of hunters. As urban sprawl continues to expand, land that was once hunted is now neighborhoods. Maybe our busy lives leaves little time to spend a weekend at the hunting lease, which brings up an important topic: the cost of hunting leases.
Go back 30 or 40 years, and a hunter had to know someone to get on a hunting lease. Now, hunting leases post on social media sites such as Facebook asking for new members. Timber companies who used to lease land for extra money have sold some land to investment firms whose sole goal is to squeeze every penny they can out of hunters who lease the property. Investment companies know hunters will pay to have special access to land. Investment firms may hang onto the land for a few years, then sell it off to another company.
Fishing, on the other hand, tends to be less time-intensive than hunting. While a trip to the hunting lease can take an entire weekend, a fishing trip takes just a few hours. With fishing we get to keep our investment in the form of a boat.
Maybe it is a natural change in culture that as we become more civilized we hunt less with each passing generation. There was once a time when our ancestors depended on hunting for fresh meat. Now, we go to the local grocery store.
So whatever the reason, hopefully we can all agree the decline in hunters is a troubling trend.