Declining Hunter Numbers

Billy

Twelve Pointer
Contributor
I think the biggest reason for the decline is the focus on duck and deer hunting. Don't get me wrong I love deer hunting and have since I was a kid but small game hunting is what made hunting a passion. I started rabbit hunting 2-3 years ago with a group of guys I went to HS with and it has reminded me that hunting can be fun. I made the mistake of taking my stepson deer hunting for his first time and although he was a trooper being cold,quiet and still isn't the most fun for a seven year old. After I took him squirrel hunting he said "This is a lot more fun and we got to shoot---can we just squirrel hunter from now on?". I am fine with that---the seed has been planted.
The exact same thing happened with my 10 year old grandson. He actually killed a doe with the crossbow on the first day of bow season, and was through with it. He loves to squirrel hunt. Deer hunting is too boring and not enough shooting. He still goes turkey hunting with me, but I'm afraid he'll quit that as soon as he kills one. :)
 

dobber

Ten Pointer
Hey dobber...... do some math for me since we all know I'm numerically challenged. What was the population increase over that period of time verses the licenses sold, percentage comparison.
7 with a +/- margin of error of 300
The good thing about percentages is they mean less than true numbers and visa versa (example at work we made $1.2M last fiscal year = yay, or we made 4% profit =booo)
percentage wise we are declining numbers of hunters based on total number of people, which equals slow growth of new hunters
 

NCST8GUY

Frozen H20 Guy
I grew up in a concrete jungle. No one in my close family hunted, none of my friends hunted, no one I knew had ever even mentioned hunting. But around high school, I KNEW i was going to be a hunter one day. I just felt it, like it was embedded in me. This site helped a LOT with my start!

But as far as new hunters go.....We hvae no youngins, but we buy nieces and nephews a NC lifetime license before their 1st Bday. This year, both my 9 and 11 (living in GA) year old nephews will be in NC for the youth opener. Parent's aren't on board :mad:

We have to "SWAY" people into the idea of hunting imho. One way I think that's possible, is through the whole "organic" craze. What's more organic meat that a wild turkey, deer, elk, hog etc?

Going off the edge now but I feel like some crazy one and done corporation (can be only 1 person) should compete with peta andHAMMER the youth, women, city folks etc, of this nation of how hunting for your own meat will help your body, help the environment, help the global population......

And then, of course, we get to watch lease prices go from $11 per acre to $30 when those people "feel" inflicted to join.
 

KrisB

Four Pointer
Love all the great comments! Speaking as a new hunter who grew up in the suburbs, one thing that sparked my interest that I will never forget was a random encounter one autumn at a gas station/convenience store when I was driving somewhere with my mother. It was in a very rural area, I think somewhere in Virginia. We were leaving and I saw 3 hunters in camo and hats walking out to their truck. They were young, probably in their early 20s. Two were guys and one was a woman. That was the first time I'd ever seen a woman who was a hunter and it really stuck with me, gave me some encouragement that such a thing was possible.

Also, the whole movement to know where your food comes from and the organic stuff is a big thing for me and seems to be a big thing for other new hunters like me who come from more suburban or urban backgrounds. And just the ethics and the spirit of it. You try to kill that animal as quickly and ethically as possible and then you harvest that meat, connecting with something humans have been doing for a very, very long time. Plus, I've always loved the woods. As a kid, I was huge into hiking and camping. Now in my 30s, those interests have come back to me, along with this new interest: hunting.

I agree that the YouTube channels like The Hunting Public, Born and Raised Outdoors, Hushin, Pinhoti Project, etc. are having a big impact in introducing the non-hunting public to hunting and inspiring some of those people to become hunters. My only criticism of a channel like Born and Raised Outdoors or Hushin is the crazy amount of product placement that they have going on. Their sponsors pay for all their gear, so you see these cool guys walking around in all this expensive gear and stuff and you think, "Wow, I really need that, that's what you use when you hunt." vs. A channel like The Hunting Public or the Pinhoti Project, they show you that you don't need all that stuff to hunt, you just need the basics and the basic knowledge and the commitment.

A few places that I was getting the declining hunting numbers from in my reading:

https://www.npr.org/2018/03/20/593001800/decline-in-hunters-threatens-how-u-s-pays-for-conservation

https://www.outdoorlife.com/why-we-are-losing-hunters-and-how-to-fix-it

http://outdoortrailsnetwork.com/expert-advice/the-great-decline-how-to-solve-hunter-participation
 
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UpATree

Four Pointer
Contributor
I graduated from East Duplin High School in Beulaville in 1976 and was probably one of just a few boys in my class who didn't care about hunting. When I turned 55, living in Cary of all places, I started thinking about it. I'd always enjoyed the outdoors, have many, many nights of camping as a Scoutmaster. I've also had guns and enjoyed shooting. Since I no longer had a dad or granddad to teach me anything, the Internet, YouTube, and this board was a tremendous resource for me. I have a buddy who is trying to show me something about fishing, and I took him hunting. He killed a buck within 45 minutes the first time he went, so he's hooked.
 

Jrbrandt25

Eight Pointer
Contributor
Getting expensive to hunt,,prices of everything really,,from land to gear,,compound bow 800 and over ,,10pt and raven xbows $1200 land crazy high even in large clubs.and if u find land u got to drive 3hrs to hunt. And then the time involved in good prep for the land and seasons plots,corn, stands work days and scouting gets tougher each year. I probably hunted 6 or 7 times last year no more the 10, I love to hunt but it's taken a back seat to everything else going on.
 

ncstatehunter

Twelve Pointer
This thread, combined with driving past National Forest this afternoon on the way home from work, put an idea in my head. I’ve fleshed it out on “paper” and think I may have something here. The gist is increasing public lands in a capitalist way that makes sure they a) aren’t used as a political ploy, b) are truly public use and open to all (looking at you land/conservation trusts), c) stay in “public” hands and most importantly d) have an emphasis placed on hunting and fishing that will not be toyed with. It may take off or it may fail horribly and be a big waste of my time and resources but I’m seeing it through and hopefully will have something bulletproof for you guys to look over and give me feedback on in the next week or two.
 

dobber

Ten Pointer
The desire to hunt is within you or it isn't, i am living proof of that, here is my story of how i realized i was a hunter well before i was a hunter.
Growing as a poor kid in England didn't afford us much, fishing was always something i liked doing and tried often. When i was (best guess) 8 i used to wait for an old codger, miserable old man who never gave me the time of day other than to tell me to bugger off. But i figured out his schedule and was always waiting for him to get home. He carried an old double barrel shotgun and would come home with pheasant or rabbits or nothing, but i was there waiting for him to catch a glimpse and based on memory to be completely ignored or yelled at. I often ask myself why i had that fascination, no one i knew hunted, not a family member anywhere that i can recall. Certainly no hunting shows on BBC
A few years later we moved to Canada, yes i am one of them pesky immigrants up here and a whole world of hunting and fishing was abound. I still ask myself why i hunt and it is simple, because "i am"
We just need to find kids who "are" as well and get them interested, share a story, give em a horn (yeah i know antler for the technical folk) spend $20 on a cheap fishing rod and reel and hand to a kid near a lake/pond/river, get involved with family and friends to let them experience a walk in the bush looking for sheds, mushrooms, fiddleheads or the perfect Christmas tree.
 

KrisB

Four Pointer
This thread, combined with driving past National Forest this afternoon on the way home from work, put an idea in my head. I’ve fleshed it out on “paper” and think I may have something here. The gist is increasing public lands in a capitalist way that makes sure they a) aren’t used as a political ploy, b) are truly public use and open to all (looking at you land/conservation trusts), c) stay in “public” hands and most importantly d) have an emphasis placed on hunting and fishing that will not be toyed with. It may take off or it may fail horribly and be a big waste of my time and resources but I’m seeing it through and hopefully will have something bulletproof for you guys to look over and give me feedback on in the next week or two.
I know that some of what you said is a big part of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers' (BHA) mission. One of their members spoke at the WRC/NWTF Get Started Outdoors (GSO) Turkey Hunting Workshop I attended and he said that they are all about promoting our public lands and, especially, maintaining access to them. Here is their website, if that will be of help to you:

https://www.backcountryhunters.org/mission_and_values

Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!
 

ncstatehunter

Twelve Pointer
I know that some of what you said is a big part of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers' (BHA) mission. One of their members spoke at the WRC/NWTF Get Started Outdoors (GSO) Turkey Hunting Workshop I attended and he said that they are all about promoting our public lands and, especially, maintaining access to them. Here is their website, if that will be of help to you:

https://www.backcountryhunters.org/mission_and_values

Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!

Actually none of what I said is a part of BHA, they are more focused on policy in regards to current public land ownership than anything else. The only conservation group that does what I’m thinking is RMEF but that’s not their sole focus. This will be solely about land purchase and holdings aimed strictly for public outdoor recreation useage.
 

spittinfire

Six Pointer
I grew up wanting to hunt. I don’t know why but even as a kid I always wanted to go hunting. I grew up in the country and could have hunted behind my house but no one in my family hunted. I asked for years and years to go hunting and never did. Finally when I was around 16 or 17 I went by myself. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I went.
I few years later in my early 20s I met a guy who hunted and was willing to teach me and share things. I’ve been hunting ever since.

Now I’ve got 3 daughters and my second has expressed interest in shooting and hunting. She specifically asks about squirrel hunting(probably because I fuss about them getting in my bird feeders). I fully plan on getting her a rifle and taking her hunting even those my wife isn’t thrilled. She’s not against it, just not pushing it either.

People don’t take time to be with their kids anymore. If parents aren’t willing to invest in their children and teach them thing like hunting and fishing, who will? It takes a lot of time and effort to get a child to the point where I would feel comfortable taking them in the woods with a rifle. Lots of people aren’t willing to make that investment when the kid is interested and then they miss their window.


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KrisB

Four Pointer
Actually none of what I said is a part of BHA, they are more focused on policy in regards to current public land ownership than anything else. The only conservation group that does what I’m thinking is RMEF but that’s not their sole focus. This will be solely about land purchase and holdings aimed strictly for public outdoor recreation useage.
Oh, I see. Apologies. I'll have a look at the RMEF. Now I'm even more curious about your idea. :)
 

CRC

Old Mossy Horns
I was told by an WRC employee recently to just hunt somewhere else when I asked what they were doing to increase the deer population on 22,000 acres of game lands.

Its hard to get people excited about hunting on suboptimal wildlife habitat that will not support large numbers of "game" animals.

With the decline in access to private land, quality hunting opportunities on game lands becomes more important.

And that is lacking in many states and areas imho.

At least the WRC is trying to address that with the expanding permit hunts program but conversely the quotas on the permits issued deny some people a chance to hunt.

Better access to quality hunting land would help imho.
 
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nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
The burden doesn't fall completely on the state to provide hunting habitat, especially when the person complaining claims to be a trophy hunter. If you want to hold out for only the best that usually requires private land where you can manage for what you supposedly seek.
 

Clark

Four Pointer
No declining hunter numbers in the marsh. Waaaay too many duck hunters. Get rid of about 90% of em, then stop the permit system so we actually have a place to go when we want to hunt.
 

CRC

Old Mossy Horns
The state doesn't have a duty to provide any public hunting opportunities...................
 

chef

Six Pointer
I was told by an WRC employee recently to just hunt somewhere else when I asked what they were doing to increase the deer population on 22,000 acres of game lands.

Its hard to get people excited about hunting on suboptimal wildlife habitat that will not support large numbers of "game" animals.

With the decline in access to private land, quality hunting opportunities on game lands becomes more important.

And that is lacking in many states and areas imho.

At least the WRC is trying to address that with the expanding permit hunts program but conversely the quotas on the permits issued deny some people a chance to hunt.

Better access to quality hunting land would help imho.
i wish they prioritized those that actually pay for all of the conservation land, the hunters. instead, it seems the forestry and wildlife management efforts go into placating what i would deem "ignorant environmentalists". a healthy and productive forest is best achieved when you allow selective logging/burning etc producing various areas for edge habitat, food growth etc. instead, it seems like the goal of "conservation" is just forest that is completely left alone which produces large swaths of sparsely populated habitat in mature old growth forest.

i have yet to hear a clear argument why this is the best method for our public land maintenance.
 

woodmoose

Administrator
Staff member
Contributor
heck,,,and from most posts on here, I thought the woods, fields, swamps and waters were too crowded???


I know, it's lack of access,,,,,but if you want to increase hunter numbers with decreasing land/water avaialbility the "team" needs to stop whining about crowded condictions and unskilled hunters,,,,,,,
 

woodmoose

Administrator
Staff member
Contributor
Also hunt clubs lease out massive amounts of lands now days. I know back in Greenville a ton of the good duck spots were owned by Tranters creek hunt club. They owned them mostly for deer hunting though. Unless you were part of that club you couldnt hunt a large portion of the land surrounding Tranters creek.

then join the hunt club,,,most are looking members
 

woodmoose

Administrator
Staff member
Contributor
All things being equal it’s just a change. The land and water conservation fund received permanent funding today which is great. There’s plenty of public land out west and now this funding can preserve more for generations. Personally we could probably do without more hunters based on the percent of available land in most eastern states. For those of you used to walking out the back door and hunting, I’m sympathetic. However, apathy is the death of most endeavors.
Look how little people support paying more to fund stuff like the purchase of the Alcoa game lands. As hunters we should demand the Pittman Robertson act be extended to the backpack crowd who share the same land. Guns and ammo fund most if not all conservation efforts, but birdwatchers get a pass. Same tax should apply to binoculars, water filters, tents etc.

Also, take a kid shooting, hunting etc. Most if not all of my sons friends have a curiosity to shoot a bow or gun, however, most if not all of their fathers are emasculated twits. So bring them also. Having a banking analyst by way of New Jersey fire off a 30 round magazine of an ar-22, or bust their first clay, removes a lot of the “fear” of guns.

If you’re scared to even touch a gun, you’re not going to hunt. So stuff like sporting clays is a good introduction.

Along with that, is be a good mentor. I had great friends teach me to hunt. I try to pass it on. For those without land, share it occasionally. Bow only property like I have, I teach them to shoot a crossbow, then take them.

If they are lucky to shoot something I teach them the drag out, skinning, quartering and butchering is all part of it. I’ve had some surprise me and jump right it. I’ve had others cry and never come back. You have to accept it’s not for everyone.

Overall as a kid in the 70’s lots of hunters were slobs plain and simple. I’ll take a quality ethical hunter of today over the orange army of the 70-80’s.

It’s not all doom and gloom

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excellent post NCKeith
 

sky hawk

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Land. I'd say based on available private hunting land, we are already at carrying capacity. Hunters are quitting for no QUALITY place to go. There are plenty of people young and old who want to go and don't have anywhere or know how to get started. For every opportunity that pops up on here, there's about 100 guys chomping to get at it. While most decent opportunities pass quietly by word of mouth.

Things change. The entrance to the game has gotten harder. Amount of available land has gotten less, number of hunters has grown.

Agencies complain about too few hunters. Hunters complain their lands are too crowded... I tend to agree with the latter.
 
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ncstatehunter

Twelve Pointer
Agencies complain about too few hunters. Hunters complain their lands are too crowded... I tend to agree with the latter.
It’s probably a combination of both. Like you and nckeith, I don’t think we are in dire straits. I do think the reason people either don’t get started or drop out from the hunter pool is due to not knowing where to go/not having a place they WANT to go to. Some aren’t just going to put in the work neccessary, whether that’s pay more, knock on more doors or have a bit of a drive. That’s not a knock on them, but like you said, times change and that’s the reality of what we have now. So we probably do have lower numbers but due to lack of access what people quality land, those left feel crowded where they do hunt.
 

sky hawk

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
then join the hunt club,,,most are looking members
WM, I don't mean to argue, but are they really? From what I've heard, most good clubs have waiting lists. I know my in-laws club in SE VA has a waiting list that equates to years.



Of course most of the clubs are in the eastern third of the state. There are few clubs west of Uwharrie. Mountain hunters have a ton of public land where they can get away from other hunters, but with low deer densities. Central NC hunters are most often looking at permission or a lease, and the average property is less than 75-100 acres. I would say the opportunities are very different in each region.

Lease rates have risen dramatically because the demand is very high. People aren't paying $20-30 an acre because they just want better land. It's often because it's that or nothing. So then they cram 4 guys on 100 acres to pay for it. Most serious hunters I know around here are on the constant lookout for land. It's gotten to the point where money is not the limiting factor, it's availability.

There's not really anything to be done about it, except adapt and change. I take my kids and friends hunting when I can, but you'll never hear me complain about the "drop" in hunter numbers.
 

Eric Revo

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
guess I'm doing it wrong then as I sure don't fit there,,,,,,
Me either, I'm still wearing my old wool glove inserts like I've done for the past 30+ years, but I have graduated away from the cotton long johns I'm happy to say. I've got Dux Bak coats that are probably as old or older than most of the hunters out there that still keep me plenty warm in NC and beyond.
I don't think we are doing it wrong at all, we are enjoying what we are doing for many, many reasons and so would the folks that are wondering about hunting in general. There are so many more reasons to hunt than just "hunting" and so much more reasons that we older timers keep on keepin on.
 

darkthirty

Old Mossy Horns
For “new hunters”, y’all gotta realize in terms of land availability that they’re not gonna miss what they never had. These are people who grew up in subdivisions and spending very little time outdoors. A 5 acre wood lot to them might as well be 100 acre tract to us. A lot of new hunters solely hunt public lands. Especially the “meat eater” hipster types. The only way they’ll get discouraged in terms of not having enough available places to hunt, is if they listen older experienced hunters bitching about not having anywhere to hunt.
 

dlbaile

Eight Pointer
At some point we all that enjoy the outdoors lifestyle of hunting and fishing or just in general have to recognize that it is on the decline and do are very best to bring new hunters and the like young or old intp the field and hope they love it as much as we did on our first outings, it is ultimatly out responsibility to keep it alive for the future generations to enjoy .
 

Roanoke

Button Buck
Most millienals are two if not three generations removed from the farm. Meaning that not as many Americans live in rural areas. When my Dad started farming in the early 1960’s there were almost a thousand farmers in Halifax County. When he retired in 2000 there were around 300. The same amount of land is being farmed but they are larger operations or have been taken over by corporations. Same reason why we are loosing are private schools in this area.
 

Dolfan21

Eight Pointer
I've been doing some reading about the declining numbers of hunters in the US overall and the R3 (recruit, retain, reactivate) efforts to stem the decline. From what I've read, those of you in the baby boomer generation make up the majority of hunters and y'all hunted/hunt the most out of any generation.

But the numbers of hunters have been declining ever since as baby boomers begin to age out or can't hunt anymore because of health issues, the general population becomes more urbanized, and a lot of young people are not interested in hunting. I read somewhere that new hunters from non-hunting backgrounds are being attracted to the sport, but that the new hunter numbers are nowhere near enough to replace the baby boomer hunters.

So, I wanted to ask: What do y'all think is the solution or a solution to the decline in hunter numbers?

Get your kids away from fortnite and in the woods. They wont know what they are missing if they are never there. As much a message to myself as anyone.
 
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