“A house divided among itself can not stand.”
It would seem to me that everyone today, at least who is on social media and involved in hunting, has their team. A team full of a bunch of guys or gals that they don’t know, who happen to wear the same brand “x” as they do. They wear the same camo, the same pack, shoot the same bow, etc.
The odd part is that the large majority of them have no actual stake or ownership in the company behind the brand. Rather, brand culture seems to have permeated so deep that it is difficult to define the lines between brands and ourselves. Guys wearing sitka wage war against the guys wearing kuiu, and the kuiu lovers return the favor. Next thing you know, everyone ends up in a bunch of arguments and social media establishes with a list of people that we really don’t like.
Further, the subdivision continues from clothing to bows, to optics and so on until we are placed on little islands with a few other people. Instead of standing together as hunters we end up divided and defined by things that we purchase. I’m not claiming at all to be above the issue, and I have often fell into the same trap, but it is something that has been working through my mind a lot recently, and I’m trying to keep myself out of this line of thinking as much as I possibly can.
Hunters are declining in total, which shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone who is moderately involved in the sport. However, what I don’t think is realized or gets enough credit is that wildlife related recreation is not. The common easy answer by many in hunting, especially the older generations, is to blame video games and a time when kids don’t want to be outside.
However, wildlife watching and photography has increased over 20% in the last 5 years alone according to the US department of interior. Fishing also was on the rise during the last 5 year report with about an 8% increase. Hunting on the other hand dropped in terms of total hunters by about 15%. Even more dramatically the expenditure from hunters, which we tout as our conservation funding, decreased by a staggering 29%.
As fantastic as the conservation funding model that we have put forward can be with hunting at the center, it will not continue to be for very long without the revenue stream to fund it, 29% is an enormous decrease in such a short period of time.
MAYBE IT’S US
So, if more people are outside watching wildlife and fishing, and yet we’re still losing hunters constantly, maybe we the hunters are responsible for at least some portion of this. Surely the team dividing has an effect when a new hunter gets interested and looks into the sport. Surely the guys that are too “hardcore” and dedicated to hunt with a new hunter also play a part.
Few of us ever go out of our way to help someone out, especially when hunting centers around being tight lipped about secret spots and honey holes. Thankfully, the easily available information from podcasts, blogs, youtube, and the like is rapidly improving. However, I think that it’s hard to argue that we would all be a little better off if we helped each other out a bit and connected as a community around the actual sport of hunting, instead of gear choices and memes.