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I wrote about the crisis currently going on in the United States with declining hunting and fishing license sales, despite a growth in population over the past couple of decades. The dollars generated from license sales goes towards protecting species that are in decline or are in an unstable number.
What can we do other than take someone fishing or hunting and hope they catch the ‘bug’ to continue an outdoors life?
It is easy to find problems. Solutions are much harder. However, as the late Dr. John Dewey once stated, “a problem well stated is a problem half solved.” We know there are more obstacles in the way of converting current generations and recruiting future generations for outdoors activities that include hunting and fishing than ever before.
At one time, it was a necessity to hunt and fish in order to survive. Agriculture became prevalent and efficient to the point that food is plentiful and available to all at low costs both in money and effort. Our world has slowly shifted from a hands-on type of civilization to an efficient digital, low-mobility existence in which communication can be done in milliseconds at virtually no cost and products and supplies can arrive from thousands of miles away in less than two sunsets.
We have a vociferous minority that can demand results against hunting or fishing that often gets lots of media attention and fear from advertisers marketing to certain activities. Because of this, the general population loses exposure to these activities unless on very specific networks.
Older generations either die off or age to the point that the activities become harder to participate in, limiting the passing of the heritage from one generation to the other. The middle generations get wrapped up in work where weekends are no longer the same for everyone as nearly every business is open seven days per week. And the younger generations, who do get off during the weekends from school do not have the parent, family member or other adult mentor that is available to take them out, and instead spend their time at a gaming console or in front of the computer.
Sure, there are some other smaller factors.
But in short, we have all become busy with things that take our time away from hunting and fishing. Probably the biggest of the other factors would be the cost to get started, as you have to find land to hunt and water to fish, which isn’t always public reserves, as well as the entry costs of gear, ammunition and tackle.
So, what can we do to put a dent in this crisis? We have to do multiple things. My personal take is to expand on something I am doing. Sure, this column gets out to many people over many newspapers. Yet, show me a kid under 18 that reads a newspaper. I used to. Mainly, I would look at the boxscores from the games the night before and read the comics. That isn’t the case any longer. Now, if it isn’t on social media, Reddit or YouTube, the 18-and-under generation won’t see it.
My goal is to create a YouTube channel that is informative, yet attractive to that generation. Currently there are several big channels. However, they lack in appearance for the most part. I am going to create something that is a mixture of River Monsters and Casey Neistat. This won’t be your Outdoors Channel-sponsored content. This will be short doses with quick-hitting action that, at the same time, educates.
There are other ways to try to bring in new people, and I think we need a mixture of it all to be successful. This is the way I am going to participate.
If you are interested in helping, whether with ideas, donations or just words of support, I would love to hear from you at email@example.com. We can do this together.
Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.