Comments by Eric Dinger
USA – -(Ammoland.com)-The future of conservation in this country relies heavily on our collective ability to reverse a devastating trend in hunter participation. Preliminary findings of U.S. Fish and Wildlife's National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (see below) indicate a 5-year fall-off of over 2 million hunters.
Since 1980, hunter numbers have fallen from nearly 18 million to the current count of 10.5 million. The preliminary findings are summarized well here. It's never been more clear that now is the time to act.
But what can we do about it?
1. The Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act, which would afford state agencies the latitude they need to more strategically use their PR dollars is stalled in the House Committee on Natural Resources. Consider writing your Representative, urging him or her to ask Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, Chair of the Committee, to call a hearing on the bill. To get you started, here is the copy of the letter I wrote to the elected leaders from Nebraska.
2. No matter who you work for or what you do, if you make your money in the hunting industry, part of your job description should now include recruiting, retaining, and reactivating hunters. To learn more about what that means, please consider joining The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports community, at www.nationalr3plan.com. It's a free industry-member-only resource filled with helpful tools, plans, and conversation.
3. Accept the fact that the world has changed and will continue to do so. We are not going to rid the world of video games and cell phones. There's nothing we can do about 80-game soccer leagues for 10 year-olds. People are going to continue to move away from rural areas. Families are going to lose their farms to inheritance taxes. Baby boomers are going to age out of their hunting days in the next 10 years. Lack of access is choking us, but hunting leases are going to continue to eat up large tracts of land.
Anti-hunting and anti-gun organizations are only going to pick up steam during this presidency – just like gun and ammo sales picked up steam during the last presidency.
Millennials are going to continue hunting for different reasons than generations-past. As an industry, we need to focus on creating solutions inside of the constraints of these tectonic realities. Here are some examples of things each of us can do;
- 1) hold a wild game feed and invite the families from the soccer team,
- 2) start a trap league, rather than joining a golf league,
- 3) build hunting opportunities for youth in programs like National Archery in the Schools, and high school trap teams,
- 4) invite a friend or neighbor to come along on your next hunting trip,
- 5) take the National Hunting and Fishing Day Pledge and invite someone as soon as you're done – maybe even consider purposefully inviting someone who doesn't look or think like you.
4. Remember what got you into hunting. It's the only thing that works nearly every time: mentoring. If you have the time to be matched long-term with a mentor, please visit this form and submit your information. From there we'll introduce you to the closest mentoring program we know of in your area. If you don't have the time to mentor in-person, please consider becoming a Digital Mentor in the Powderhook app. It'll take you a minute or two a week. If you're part of an outdoor industry company and you're interested in learning about how mentoring is the best form of marketing, get in touch with us here.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the “Orange Army” to engage. Each of us needs to do more, and we need to start now.