Do Your Part for Hunter Recruitment
Dr. John Woods 10.13.20
Like it or not, hunting in America is on the decline. Year after year, decades add up, but the numbers don’t lie in most states. Hunting license sales are trending down. State wildlife agencies are trying their best to hold on to what they have and grow a bit with new incentive programs to attract new hunters. I’m afraid football, X-box and other interests are winning out. So, what can be done?
Why do we need more hunters, younger hunters? Sounds like an obviously stupid question. It is a complicated one with lots of sidebars to the story. In many states license sales are the only revenue stream for the state wildlife departments. Some state legislatures budget state funds for wildlife like Missouri, but they are far and few between.
Legislatures make it easy to argue that there are other pressing issues than wildlife and fisheries management. They are right of course, especially now in the midst of Covid, but there ought to be some kind of fair balance. I can think of at least a dozen or two things we could do without, as you probably can. For now, we still have one vote each.
Managing natural resources requires money, a good bit of it. It takes all the license sales a state can muster and that means hunters and fishermen, and other assessments. Even then that is barely enough to cover it all, especially when hunter numbers are declining. We have to work on programs to bring more young people into our ranks. You can help with that. How?
Wherever it is you hunt or whomever you hunt with, then encourage everyone to invite a few guests every season. If you have a grandchild or a neighbor kid close by, take them hunting along with a parent. Start with a hunter education course to get them interested or share a hunter ed training book for them to study. Answer their questions to satisfy their interests.
If you manage to get a young person to hunting camp, then make it fun for them. Feed them food they like, take them to the gun range for informal instruction. Sit with them in a hunting stand or get them to help build a ground blind. Teach them about deer, deer management, and how to hunt. Build on their interests. Start slow and show them the ropes.
We need more hunters to join us for the future. That future starts this season and it starts with us. Maybe we can turn the tide. Talk with the folks in your own wildlife department to see how you can help before it’s too late.