Interest In Outdoors A Bright Side

Editorial-Opinion November 2022

Daryl Kirby | October 29, 2022

Look on the bright side… hearing that can be annoying at times, especially when there is lots not to like about the current state of affairs. 

You don’t need me to tell you that inflation is a serious issue. It’s affecting all of us, some of us profoundly. But for the hunting industry, and for the future of hunting, there’s a bright side to this economic downturn. 

Finding the bright side can be difficult at times. It’s a character flaw of mine. Truth is, no matter how much I complain, I have it great. And I know it. 

As I write this, the sun has been down for a few hours on Oct. 19 and the heat just kicked on. It’s cold outside. I know the bucks are feeling frisky. They’ll be chasing any day now, or at least taking more pre-rut prowls. Cold nights and mornings this early in October remind me how blessed I am—in so many ways—but particularly because of the opportunities I have to get out in the woods. 

Do you realize there are folks out there who have never been hunting? Hard to imagine… but it’s true.  

Should you care about people who don’t hunt? I say yes you should, particularly if you’re concerned about the future of hunting, about whether your kids and their kids will get to experience the wonders of going to the woods and coming home with meat for the freezer. 

Hunter numbers are predicted to see a continued decline in future years. If they do, eventually there will be a tipping point when there aren’t enough of us to matter to policy-makers and the agencies that facilitate hunting. 

This reality is why you see such an emphasis on kids in GON. There’s nothing we like better than a story about folks providing opportunities for kids to go hunting. While this is important, it contains an element of preaching to the choir. Most of these are our kids—we already hunt, and they’ll likely follow along and become hunters. I’m not saying we shouldn’t publish articles about kids and continue to emphasize pictures of youngsters in the magazine. It just seems like we need to do more. 

We need to do a better job of reaching people who didn’t have parents or relatives to take them hunting. There are many of these people out there, non-hunters who doubtlessly would get a big kick out of watching a sunrise from a deer stand, out of feeling the adrenaline rush of an encounter with a deer, and the satisfaction of feeding the family the most natural of ways. 

Did you notice how many people planted gardens the past couple of years? I saw an article about how to grow vegetables in pots on apartment balconies. Maybe even city folks have a deep-rooted instinct to provide for themselves when times are tough. 

It reminds me of an article about hunting that appeared in The New York Times about 10 years ago during another period of tough times in our country. Believe it or not, the article didn’t have an anti-hunting slant. In fact, it was a pro-hunting article about urban people who are getting into hunting. I doubt the Times would publish that article today—they’ve gone way too progressively Woke. The city-livers in that article 10 years ago wanted deer meat because they really enjoy cooking, and they love organic food. These days, I bet others might be interested in hunting, not because they want organic wild game that they can’t buy at Ingles or Walmart, but simply because they want some meat in the freezer. Period. They can’t afford it.

Tough times and the lingering craziness of a virus have some Americans going through a transformation, not forward, but back toward a simpler way of life. As sportsmen who are concerned about the future of hunting and fishing, tough times are when we should keep our radar up. Look for non-hunting friends who may be taking an interest in filling the freezer with the bounty of nature instead of relying on the meat counter at the local grocery store. Don’t think of new hunters or fishermen as competition. Think of them as insurance. Hunter numbers have been declining for years. A turn-around is needed, and it can only be accomplished through new hunters being introduced to the sport.

You will see a continued focus by GON to get kids involved in hunting and fishing. But the future of our outdoor pursuits depends on more than taking our own kids. It depends on new blood. Look at these tough times as a window of opportunity. It just needs a nudge to pry it open.

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