© 2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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I saw some statistics recently, and hunter participation is at its lowest in thirty years. I became interested in waterfowling through my friend Scott Croner at Nebraska Hunting Company. Doing my research, I came to find out that waterfowlers in particular have lost almost 30% participation. I asked myself what could be the problem? In general, why does it appear that there are less and less hunters? Googleing for answers, I found myself reading the Fishing and Hunting Recruitment and Retention Addendum over the course of several nights, trying to gain some insight as to why this was happening.
As much as the AR activists would like to take credit for the downturn in numbers, it's not the animal rights people and their misinformation and propaganda, it all boils down to...
And it is time we cut the crap and did something.
Access seems to be the biggest problem facing any sportsman today. Over crowded public hunting areas, and pay to hunt acreage have made hunting either inconvenient, or cost prohibitive. Especially near the metroplolitan areas of the United States, the East and West coasts, getting to good public hunting land can be exasperating if not downright next to impossible.
Remember over 75% of the US population is concentrated in urban areas. And the two areas with the largest populations, the New England area and the Pacific regions, have the lowest number of persons entering the field, at less than 4%. Much of this is due to a low initiation rate. City folk don't hunt that much, therefore their kids, friends, or neighbors don't either. Those that do, tend to be reticent about it due to fears of the neighbors reactions or opinions.
But there are simple positive steps that each and every one of us could take to increase recruitment, and counter negative sterotypes and fears. Here are some examples.
What if each and every one of us recruited a new hunter every season? While it might not double active participants in the field, it would more than double the number of people that would see through the AR charade, and come to see hunters and outdoorsmen as conservators of the resources.
Take a neighbor shooting. Invite a neighbor to join you at the range. Bring a twenty-two, and start him or her off right. Concentrate on their shooting, and forget about yours. Whet their appetite and see where it leads.
Take up small game hunting. Small game is more accessible than even deer hunting, and far less expensive. Unless you're all up into that LL Beam look... Squirrel is a perenial favorite, and if you take the time to show them how to prepare a fricasse, you will have made a small game hunting convert.
Make an effort to help someone new get to and pass your state Hunter Safety Course. Sit through the classes with your acolyte, and share your knowledge.
If you have a lease, dedicate a weekend to taking a new or potential hunter with you. Talk to all your fellow lease holders, and organize a hunt, just for a neophyte hunter. If you are one of the fortunate few to have a good lease, by golly, let folks come in and harvest some does. Take the time to explain to the need for keeping a good balance between bucks and does, and if they are lucky enough to connect, teach them all you know about game meat preparation. Make a big deal out of it because it is a big deal!
Spend a couple of bucks, and put out 20 fliers from a the National Shooting Sports Foundation NSSF, or the National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) (Click for PDF Hunter and Angler Fact Sheet.) Share them with friends, colleagues, and others when you deem it appropriate. Remember, the only way to disarm the animal rights zealots and the anti-gun fanatics, is with good factual information.
I'm sure there are other great ideas that you can come up with so feel free to share them with us!
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...