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margehale's picture
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As hunting declines in Virginia, a way of life is lost

As hunting declines in Virginia, a way of life is lost                                                         Kristen Green, Richmond Times Dispatch 

For 25 years, interest in hunting has been declining in Virginia. The number of hunting licenses issued annually is half what it was in 1974. Hunting licenses are down 1 percent to 2 percent every year, according to the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The number of licenses decreased from 253,425 in 2009 to 245,185 in 2010, or 3.3 percent.

As farmland is gobbled up by subdivisions and strip malls, it is increasingly difficult for hunters to access land. Enthusiasm for hunting is waning, in part, because there are more recreation options for young people today. Children now shoot fake guns in video games rather than go deer hunting with Grandpa early in the morning.

 

Read more: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/jan/24/tdmain01-as-hunting-declines-in-virginia-a-way-of--ar-793690/

Tndeerhunter's picture
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Location: Tennessee
Joined: 04/13/2009
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Decline in hunting as a sport

I've read several articles that have a similar slant saying that the number of hunters within a specific state (or nationwide) is on the decrease. I do not necessarily doubt the statistics that are shown, but I do have doubts that the sport of hunting is somehow on it's way out. If these surveys are widened to include the reason some hunters have stopped hunting or buying a hunting license, the answers do show a definite trend.

That trend? The biggest reason hunters stop hunting is a lack of suitable areas in which to hunt. The biggest factor in those who claim there is a lack of suitable areas is that they had recently lost a long time hunting property and have/had no suitable replacement. I believe that this is the biggest problem we face today as a threat to our sport.

The idea of leasing hunting has taken firm hold across many areas of our nation. I realize that many of those who live in the western half of our nation may have large tracts of state or federal lands on which to hunt. For those of us who live in the higher populated eastern half, there are far fewer such areas. Many private lands have become closed to previous hunters, when the owners saw additional $$ signs in leasing rights rather than simply allowing friends or neighbors access to their properties.

Am I against the leasing of hunting lands? Of course not. I simply see the point where many former hunters no longer wish to struggle on a year to year basis to maintain having some lands to hunt. Sign a two year lease, work your butt off to improve the property and then find someone else has come in and made a bigger offer to the landowner. I think at least some here would be willing to admit that they'd had a bad experience with a lease, or with new members ($$$) added to a lease they have been involved in that drastically changed the circumstances and made that lease less than safe or practical anymore (such as has happened to me).

No, I do not have an answer to change what seems to have become a serious trend (reduced license sales), but I do understand why some have chosen to step away from an enjoyable pastime they may have enjoyed for decades. It's a fact of life that as we age we try to find ways to enjoy ourselves that are somewhat easier to do, not more difficult, and the fact that finding an area to enjoy hunting on becomes a job in itself makes it much less attractive to many. I can assure you younger hunters that this is something that will also happen to you, without a doubt.

It is still up to us active hunters to help impart an interest in the outdoors and hunting to those both young and old. Encourage participation for anyone who shows an interest and then do your best to make their introductory forays enjoyable. Remain vigilant in seeing your state does not enact laws which would discourage new hunters. Don't allow an elitist attitude to become the governing factor in how hunting should be controlled within your states. I doubt many here grew up having antler restrictions put on them as they struggled to harvest their first deer. 

Do you not wonder why a new hunter might feel odd about having to harvest an acceptable buck as their first ever harvest? Encourage such things as youth hunt days where new hunters get some special time afield without the hordes of hunters seen on opening day. We most certainly need to keep our sport a friendly enjoyable and practical one for new members of our fraternity. Simply my opinion, of course. 

mainecoast's picture
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Location: Downeast Maine
Joined: 01/27/2011
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Decline

Maine also noted a decrease in license sales for a few years, but now license sales are rebounding.  I would echo Tndeerhunters sendiments and add that economic factors also played a part in the downturn. 

Maine is the number two taxed state in the nation.  These higher taxes have sent our young people looking for better opportunity in other states that do not have such a high tax burden.  Those that do stay spend so much time trying to provide for their family that any spare time they do have they spend with their children, doing whatever the kids choose.  Now I agree that time in the field or on the water is time well spent, but as margehale mentioned in her post there are many choices for children these days and most do not include fishing or hunting. 

Another factor in this State is that back in the late 80's and early 90's, Maines deer herd was at an all time low.  Deer were few and far between.  This happeded to be when my son was being introduced to hunting.  After the first few days of being in the woods with temps in the teens and twenties, he decided that his warm bed was the better place to be.  I switched tactics and started taking him sea duck hunting so he could pull the trigger and see some results.  This brought him to the ranks of a hunter, but to this day he reluctantly goes deer hunting with me if I ask him to go.  He also has a child under two that takes up alot of his time. 

Everything mentioned as well as a couple of severe winters here in Maine and an exploding coyote population has all led to people making decisions regarding where their dollars are better spent.  If a Mainer has to choose between oil to heat their homes, the price here is $3.20/gal, right now, or a hunting license, heating their home will win.  Besides, Maine has few wardens compared to the size of the State making the chance of being stopped by a warden to have your license checked almost nill.

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