There are a lot of smiling faces in the hunting industry these days. Firearms and ammunition experienced record sales in 2009, and there are more outdoor television programs with more commercial time and more product offerings than ever before.
But the hunting industry has a dirty little secret. It’s not talked about openly. Only a faint, trembling whisper is ever heard within the hallowed mahogany-walled offices of the corporate executives, while middle managers and accountants congratulate one another on their bottom lines. They turn blind eyes to an unpleasant and unspeakable truth – our industry and, indeed our very outdoor way of life, is on a collision course with reality.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, the number of active hunters in America has declined by 35 percent since 1975. Plus, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association reports that youth participation in hunting declined by 26 percent between 1990 and 2000. If that was not bad enough, the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation reports that only 25 percent of children from hunting households actively participate in hunting today. These numbers add up to one thing – our industry is declining and our children and our children’s children may never experience and appreciate the outdoors like we do today.
What’s worse is that some within our ranks are completely subversive. Hunters are attacking other hunters simply because they dislike the way they hunt. They are aligned with the anti-hunting agenda and working to legislate away private property rights and a hunter’s free choice of how to hunt. Our article in this issue of Points – High Fence, High Stakes — addresses an important issue and I hope you’ll take time to read it and let your voice be heard.
The decline of hunting as a sport and a way of life is no longer a secret. It’s something for which we all need to discuss openly and then take action.
Now, more than ever before, sportsmen and all those working within the deer and wildlife industries need to unite. It’s understood that we all have our preferred methods of hunting and we will not always agree on certain issues. However, as sincere conservationists and responsible hunters, I think we can all agree on two things – hunting is good and it’s an American outdoor tradition we should preserve for future generations.
John Meng, President
American Deer & Wildlife Alliance