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June 18, 2007

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Discussion Topic: Are Our Sports in Trouble?

Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey’s eagerly anticipated five-year study of outdoor recreation are in, and a sneak peak at our August 2007 issue breaks them down: 30 million anglers, 12.5 million hunters, $64 billion dollars spent in 2006 by sportsmen. That’s a lot of folks with some serious purchase power, but a closer look also reveals some disturbing trends: hunter numbers down 4 percent since 2001, anglers down 12.

To learn more about what’s behind these declines, especially as it pertains to youth participation, Bill Heavey interviewed Richard Louv, journalist and author of the bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder:

F&S: The USFWS is now reporting another drop in the number of sportsmen. What do you make of that?
R.L.: No surprise whatsoever. It’s consistent with what we’re seeing all over the country. In a typical week, only 6 percent of kids aged 9 to 13 play outside on their own.

Check out the full interview here.

We’d like to think our coverage shows a balance of optimism, concern, and a determination to secure a healthy future for our sports. An article posted Friday by Newsweek, however, seems to take a gloomier perspective, mixed with a little sarcasm. It opens:

If you’re a squirrel or a trout, we’ve got some good news for you: Americans are hunting and fishing less.

The fact that squirrels and trout would be infinitely worse off without the conservation efforts and dollars contributed by hunters and fishermen aside, the Newsweek coverage does highlight some especially troubling numbers, including: migratory bird hunters down 22 percent and small-game hunters down 12 percent.

We’d like to know what you think. Does the USFWS report spell doom and gloom? Or is there room for optimism. What more should we be doing to ensure a bright future for out sports?



I'm forunate enough to to own my own hunting property so access is not a concern. I know many folks in the office that love to hunt but do not have access to any property.

There is public ground in the area but it is overused and not the safest enviornment. Unless you have big $$$ to pay for an outfitter or lease; you don't have a choice but to give it up.

Kristine Shreve

Some states have started offering apprentice hunting licenses, which make it easier to introduce young people to hunting. I wish more states would do this. I'm guessing the cost of buying a license and taking a hunting safety course discourages some parents from getting their kids into hunting.


I am pretty new to hunting and fishing. There are many obsticles to go through getting started. Especally without someone to help you figure out what you need to get started. When I go to a sporting goods store or read up online and try to figure out what I need to get started I am usally looking at least $1000 in gear per sport. I can't afford that. It has kept me away from some things. I have been finding out that I don't need all of that junk, but it still is intimidating. Most of the magiazines and articles and such are just trying to get you to spend more money. it is difficult to figure out how to get started in a cost effective way. It is impossible to figure out what you really need and what is just crap they are trying to get you to wasted your money on.

Mike Diehl

If a hunter is persistent and uses common sense there are good hunting opportunities. One real big problem, however, is privatization of hunting lands, and sale of state lands for development. If the pace of urbanization of open lands continues there is only one direction that hunting can go. To private hunting preserves.

Matt Mallery


You are right. Federal land is also being sold off. The froest Service and the BLM do it all the time.


First, there is a HUGE difference between ''sports'' (football, baseball, basketball) and hunting or fishing. I love to hunt deer & fish, so don't let your panties get all wadded up.
Sports, are where PEOPLE compete against each other and the object excludes death. It is considered equal because you put humans against humans. Minds and equipment are the same; only the talent is at different levels.
Rules and regulations are clear, the same across the board, and followed; or the outcome is affected.

Hunting and fishing are hardly sports. We are smarter than our adversaries, have loads of equipment to sway things to our advantage, and we mean harm, death to say it plainly to our fellow ''competitors''.

I know some people work a sweat walking and dragging and planting and scouting, but sorry; NOT A SPORT. CALL IT WHAT IT IS; right Dave?

Second; there are far too many people that see hunting and fishing as cruel outlets for mean people. We as hunters need to address these considerations in their extremes such as; dog hunting, baiting, unethical trophy hunting and large sums of money to hunt to name a few. We must stop this idea of needing large antlers to fill a magazine or a tv show.

THESE EXTREMES ARE DESTROYING THE FUTURE OF HUNTING AND FISHING AND WE MUST ADDRESS THEM WITH THE IDEA OF GIVE AND TAKE. We might actually have to hunt only for the meat, or leave the dogs at home, or keep the corn off the ground.

I say address these things OURSELVES to stave off the obvious rules and regulations that will SURELY SOON COME. But we cannot even agree on this freaking site that treading on others property is wrong; whether its you or your dog. We cannot even agree its wrong to kill for beauty alone (horns, antlers, fur).
We cannot even agree that some animals should be exempt from hunting no matter what the population numbers are.

And this is supposed to be the best and the brightest minds in hunting? SO SAD!


Hunter & Animal Lover

Another Tom

I have hunted and fished ever since I was young, but now I only hunt once or twice a year if I'm lucky because you have to either own or lease property to hunt in Texas. Hunting seems to be headed to a point that just the rich can afford it and there are fewer rich people than there are of us average income people, therefore, fewer hunters every year. $1200 to $5000 per hunter for a lease is out of my price range. The farmers and ranchers can make a lot of money from the rich hunters with little or no extra work on their part and this subsidizes their income considerably. The down side is that when "the rest of us" quit buying hunting licenses and equipment due to a lack of opportunity, the tax revenue that helps support wildlife projects will be lost. Also, our children and grandchildren will never know or fully understand the joys of being in the outdoors.

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