Like many of you, I have always had a love of the outdoors. And like many too, I am what Steven Renilla of Meateater and the Meateater Podcast calls a late onset hunter. He explains that we developed a love of hunting and a desire to acquire the skills later in life instead of when we were kids.
I have to say that I am a late onset hunter when it comes to big game but not to wing shooting. As a kid, my father instilled a love of wing shooting and fishing, but I never really had the desire to go after big game until I was in my late 20s. Since then, I have looked forward to the fall and winter with great anticipation of the upcoming hunting seasons so that I may fill my freezer with meat that I was able to get myself. For a not so small investment, I try every year to get a deer, bear, turkeys, ducks, geese, and other upland game that is available. I cannot tell you the joy I get when I can step into the wild and explore God’s creation in the pursuit of a future meal.
What has surprised me the most is the decline of the American Hunter. I have no explanation as to how or why the sport continues to decline, but I believe that it is a detriment to all of us if that skill, desire, and love of the outdoors is lost. In a recent article I read from Outdoor Life titled, “Why We Suck at Recruiting New Hunters, Why It Matters, and How You Can Fix It”, they talk about how the Baby Boomer generation makes up our largest contingent of hunters in the U.S. right now. We are losing them at record rates and within 15 years this generation will stop buying licenses and we will lose 30 percent of hunters and, in turn, 30 percent of the revenue contributed to conservation from license fees and the advocacy for hunting in general. They speculate that we may never recover.
This is very disappointing to me as a lover of the outdoors and as a hunter. So many of the lands we love are under attack now politically, by development, and by groups that don’t support, and in fact downright oppose, the sport of hunting. Let it be said that I do not hunt for a “trophy”. I hunt for the challenge of the sport and the fact that I can provide vital nourishment for myself and my loved ones.
One wonders what can be done to prevent this from happening, how to instill a love of the outdoors and wildlife in future generations? Not looking at it as a blood sport but as a way to put food on our table. For example, in California a hunting license and tag to hunt a deer for a resident will run you approximately $80. If you are able to harvest an animal and you recover 50 or 60 pounds, you are basically paying $1.10 per pound for very high-quality meat. You will never be able to get that at the grocery store. I realize, of course, I have not factored in the cost of the equipment needed, but you get my point.
So, what can be done, if you are a hunter, to get your friends hunting with you? As you know this is primarily a cigar page, but I have had the pleasure of helping several friends at my local cigar lounge get into the sport and have had my hunting party in the fall grow as fellow hunters join in in the fall activities. Once again, a cigar becomes a vessel for us to share our hobbies and teach new ones. As a hunter, I believe that it is my mission to not let the traditions that surround the fall festivities die. I want to instill the love I have to future generations and help those who want to learn to love the hunt as well. If we lose hunting, we lose a vital fund for wildlife conservation. There is no better conservationist than the American Hunter and it is up to all of us to make sure that traditions, lands, and wild game populations continue to thrive. I look forward to your thoughts and hope that you will share in the discussion and please email with your comments.
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Until next time,
See you in the woods,