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Chris M
09-22-2008, 8:33 AM
Interesting article in the SJ Mercury last week:

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_10481192

Hunting fades in California amid sprawl, immigration and video games
SOME ARE WORKING TO KEEP TRADITION ALIVE

The sun was beginning to set, and Natasha Fite, 14, hurried through thick brush to get a glimpse of the deer 100 yards away.

Blond ponytail poking out the back of her cap, the Gilroy High School freshman raised her rifle, peered through its scope and squeezed. Crack! The 3-year-old buck fell dead; it was the first deer she'd ever killed.

"Good job!" yelled her dad, Jay Fite, as they jogged toward the animal, which will eventually end up on their dinner table. The hunt was not just a typical father-daughter outing; it came partially because of an attempt by a hunting association and the state to protect a fading tradition.

Like county fairs and drive-in movie theaters, hunting has been on a steady decline over the past generation in the Golden State. The number of people with hunting licenses in California now 298,000 has fallen 61 percent since 1970, even as the state population has doubled.

The decline has sent the state scrambling to come up with programs to encourage new people including teenagers and women to try hunting. In the 1970s, the sale of hunting and fishing licenses made up more than half the annual state Department of Fish and Game budget, money that paid for programs ranging from pollution enforcement to recovery of wildlife from salmon to condors. Today the licenses make up 17 percent.

The trend also has alarmed hunters and some rural residents, who lament the loss of
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tradition, and say that it highlights how people in cities have a diminishing connection with the outdoors, not understanding where their water, food or energy comes from.

Fite and her father were hunting Saturday in the hills near Henry Coe State Park as part of an annual program to introduce teenagers to hunting and fishing. The program is sponsored by the California Deer Association, a hunting advocacy group, and the state.

"It's not just a tradition, not just a sport," said Al Nelson, a volunteer who helped guide the five novice hunters.

Nelson, a San Jose roofing contractor, grew up in Merced County hunting birds and rabbits as a boy. "It builds self confidence, and camaraderie with adults. You give me a kid who loves to hunt and fish and I'll bet he's a kid who is responsible and who has a good head on his shoulders, and who won't get into trouble."

Animal welfare groups say good riddance.

"We are encouraged that so many tens of millions of people are interested in less harmful forms of wildlife-associated recreation, like bird-watching, hiking and photography," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, in Washington, D.C.

"That type of activity now dwarfs
hunting. It is difficult for me to imagine the trend lines not continuing."

Nationwide, 14.7 million people have hunting licenses, down 7 percent since 1970, and 13 percent since the peak in 1982. The chief reason: urbanization.

"We have fewer and fewer people in California who grew up with exposure to the outdoors,'' said Jeannine DeWald, a biologist in Santa Cruz with the state Department of Fish and Game. "Hunting tends to be something you do with your father or grandfather. But with more people living in cities, we've broken that chain.''

Immigration also is significant: 27 percent of California residents were born in another country, the largest ratio in the nation. Many of the places new residents come from - Mexico, China, India do not have the same tradition of hunting as the United States.

Add to that video games and fewer places to hunt.

"When I was a kid growing up in Modesto in the 1970s it was nothing for me to go out to a friend's house, he had a dairy, and to hunt ducks," Craig Stowers, deer program coordinator for the state Fish and Game Department, said. "But now those areas are parking lots."

Around the nation, fish and game departments and hunting groups are trying to cultivate new interest. Texas has set up all-female hunting programs. In Illinois, wildlife agencies are holding learn-to-hunt classes for single mothers.

California has sponsored "Becoming an Outdoorswoman" courses, and offers a lifetime hunting license for $432 to anyone younger than 9, even though children must be at least 12 to hunt deer or other big game. Studies have shown that if people haven't started hunting by age 18, it's unlikely they'll ever take it up.

Pacelle, of the Humane Society, said his group does not oppose all hunting, only types it describes as cruel or unsporting, such as aerial gunning of wolves and hunting bears with hounds. But it does oppose state-funded hunter recruitment programs.

"The hunting community is suffering from major problems in recruiting new hunters," he said. "States should play a neutral role and not turn into boosters for the NRA and the rest of the hunting lobby."

Hunting advocates say that without hunting, some wildlife populations can grow out of control.

"If you go too far and the population grows too much, you get more diseases, and you run into problems of the animals expanding into urban and suburban areas,'' said Greg Lawson, a spokesman for the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, in Columbus, Ohio. "People might not mind the deer until they hit one with their car."

The junior hunting program Saturday near Coe Park takes 30 teens a year on hunts for deer, turkeys and wild pigs on a 4,200-acre former cattle ranch east of Gilroy. Each year, five deer are killed on the property.

"It gives a kid an opportunity that they wouldn't otherwise have, to hunt or fish or learn about wildlife management," said Henry Coletto, one of the organizers.

When she's not hunting, Fite plays field hockey and sings in the school choir. She said she does it because she likes to be outdoors with her father. She'll make stew and venison enchiladas from Saturday's deer. And what does she tell her friends?

"If they say to me that I shouldn't kill animals I hunt, I say to them, 'Well, you eat them, too. If you don't think we should kill animals, you shouldn't eat them.'"''

And with that, she dragged her deer through the field, toward a waiting red Jeep.


I started hunting only about a year ago. I'm 32. My father's an avid hunter, but for some reason didn't involve my siblings and I. My wife is starting to become interested in hunting as well. She attended the Hunter safety course a couple weeks ago @ Reed's indoor range in San Jose. I went with her for moral support. I was a bit surprised at the attendance...2 people pre-teen, a few teenagers, but most of the group of 40 people were in there late 20's to mid 30's, with a few older guys who had stopped hunting for a long time, and wanted to pick up the sport again.

PatriotnMore
09-22-2008, 8:50 AM
I started hunting only about a year ago. I'm 32. My father's an avid hunter, but for some reason didn't involve my siblings and I. My wife is starting to become interested in hunting as well. She attended the Hunter safety course a couple weeks ago @ Reed's indoor range in San Jose. I went with her for moral support. I was a bit surprised at the attendance...2 people pre-teen, a few teenagers, but most of the group of 40 people were in there late 20's to mid 30's, with a few older guys who had stopped hunting for a long time, and wanted to pick up the sport again.

Good for you, the future for hunting, and its safety from anti hunting groups is to bring daughters, and wives, into the field, as well as, your sons. Even if they are out there just to enjoy being in the outdoors, having women in the field, is good for everyone.

Chris M
09-22-2008, 10:27 AM
Good for you, the future for hunting, and its safety from anti hunting groups is to bring daughters, and wives, into the field, as well as, your sons. Even if they are out there just to enjoy being in the outdoors, having women in the field, is good for everyone.

I guess I'm doing my part in helping the economy as well...guns, ammo, camo, optics, safes, and the like definitely ain't cheap...especially when there's no 'hand-me-downs'...but it's worth every penny. I bought my wife a Tristar Viper 20ga semi-auto, and she's been begging me to go to the range just about every weekend.

RogueSniper
09-22-2008, 1:09 PM
I just passed the Hunter's Education course at Coyote Point in San Mateo. We had over 25 people in the class, over 50% were kids, pre-teens. There were four or five ladies and the rest between 30-40 year old men.

Dads and Moms were there with the boys (and one girl) as moral support. I think everyone passed. I know I did, got a 98%. Now I'm shopping for a Remington Combo turkey/deer gun. I can't wait for the Gun Show at the Cow Palace this Saturday. My Dad never hunted but was a Life Member of the NRA. I think I may be the first in my family to hunt. My close friends are encouraging me to go out and bring back some game meat.
~J

Chris M
09-22-2008, 1:44 PM
I just passed the Hunter's Education course at Coyote Point in San Mateo. We had over 25 people in the class, over 50% were kids, pre-teens. There were four or five ladies and the rest between 30-40 year old men.

Dads and Moms were there with the boys (and one girl) as moral support. I think everyone passed. I know I did, got a 98%. Now I'm shopping for a Remington Combo turkey/deer gun. I can't wait for the Gun Show at the Cow Palace this Saturday. My Dad never hunted but was a Life Member of the NRA. I think I may be the first in my family to hunt. My close friends are encouraging me to go out and bring back some game meat.
~J

Good going. Unfortunately, my wife didn't pass (80% required...she got 77%), but she's not going to give up. Of my 6 guns, only my Remington 870 Express has been used for hunting. I've only been waterfowl and turkey hunting so far, and it's been a great gun. It's definitely going to get a workout in November - I'm going on a 4-day waterfowl / coyote hunt up near the CA/OR border.
If I may make a suggestion - spend a few extra $$ and get a shotgun with a 3.5" chamber & action. My 870's barrel has a 3.5" chamber, but the action was built for 3" shells.

wilit
09-22-2008, 5:22 PM
Like county fairs and drive-in movie theaters, hunting has been on a steady decline over the past generation in the Golden State. The number of people with hunting licenses in California — now 298,000 — has fallen 61 percent since 1970, even as the state population has doubled.

The decline has sent the state scrambling to come up with programs to encourage new people — including teenagers and women — to try hunting.

Hmmmm... Here's a thought, how about becoming a gun-friendly state and quit passing BS laws like lead ammo bans and anti-gun legislation.

AEC1
09-22-2008, 9:45 PM
My 9 year old had his first hunt this year, doves, we had a blast, brought back so many memories of me and my dad.

ElToro
09-23-2008, 9:32 PM
booking a pig hunt is easy enough only costs ~500-600

deer hunting on public land is a MF'er... anybody know any any honey holes?

i was invited to go pheasant hunting a few times last december/january, my friends dad has a trained dog, and it was a club, i had to pay for the birds i shot. i did get invited to a dove hunt on a friends family ranch outside of Paso a few years ago

my dad hasnt hunted since before i was born and his dad died when my father was a teenager. my grandpa on my moms side only had daughters, took them hunting a few times, they wernt into it. hes 94 and hasnt hunted since the 60's or early 70's all his old buddies that had land are long dead or sold their land

my wife is not really interested, she went hunting a bit with her dad growing up, but he lives in TN now.

My bro, same story as me but he just job transferred to TX 2 years ago and met many new friends at work who the first thing they said is "where is your lease" has been hunting many times since. and his 6 year boy cant wait to go

anybody want to let me tag along ?

BTW anybody see last thursday 9/18 outdoor/sports section of the SF Comicle? surprisingly pro deer hunting full page article by Tom Stienstra