Outdoor Heritage is Thriving!

“Hunting is on the decline”

“Most kids don’t know where their food comes from anymore”

“People still fish?”

“Some kids think water comes from their water faucet”

photo credit: U.S. FWS

Tell me that you have heard these statements before?

Unfortunate, isn’t it?

Well, I have heard lots of comments like that and I always defend our outdoor heritage and tell folks that hunting, fishing and wildlife watching are still very popular traditions.  But, to some degree – there could be some truth to these statements.

I have written previously that today – children spend an average of over 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen and only 4 minutes a day in free play outside.  This disconnection from the outdoors is troubling and robs the next generation of hunters, anglers and wildlife stewards.

However, today we got some good news.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a new survey that essentially reports that more Americans are heading outdoors to hunt and fish for fun, reversing a two-decade-long decline among adults.

Two big findings in the report:

1) Eleven percent more Americans (ages 16 and older) fished and 9% more hunted in 2011 than in 2006, according to a new five-year survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2) The kids went, too. Of those ages 6 to 15, 13% more hunted (from 1.6 million to a record 1.8 million) and 2% more fished (from 8.3 million to 8.5 million) during the same period. The preliminary state-by-state data were released this month.

What caused this increase?

Here is my two cents worth:

1) Credit most federal and state Natural Resource Agencies for targeting youth and encouraging them to get outdoors and explore;

2) Economic impact.  Think about how the economy has impacted families these days.  Perhaps parents are simplifying the kids schedules and not spending a fortune on computer games?

3)  Softening of hunting regulations by nearly three dozen states.  More states now offer apprentice licenses that don’t require hunters’ education for beginners accompanied by licensed hunters.

Whatever the reason or however you look at it, this is good news and shows that our outdoor hunting/fishing heritage is still alive and thriving. 

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