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Old 10-02-2019, 09:22 AM
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Has The Popularity Of (Sport) Hunting Remained Consistent Over The Years?


Is hunting for wild game, as a sport (not as a means of sustenance), more popular now than it's ever been? Less popular? Has it been generally the same ever since hunting for sport (rather than out of necessity) became an option?

I'm talking about in the US, but if you're from outside the US and can contribute, please do so.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:15 AM
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From what I have heard in my neck of the woods. Hunting is still pretty popular compared to the past but the average age of hunters is going up. That has some people worried about continued popularity and a push for teen firearm training and mentorship programs. It's usually passed down so it's one of those things that's easy to lose and hard to get back.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:50 AM
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There are a myriad of articles bemoaning the decline of sport hunting. Here is one: https://www.outdoorlife.com/why-we-a...how-to-fix-it/
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:57 AM
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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife: "license sales are at their lowest level since 1976. Minnesota isn’t the only state seeing this trend – hunting and fishing license sales and participation rates have been falling nationally for years."

And from my observations, sitchensis's item is correct: increasingly something only old men do. Very few young people taking up hunting (or fishing). Pretty much a dying pastime in the USA.

Last edited by Tim@T-Bonham.net; 10-02-2019 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:59 AM
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There are a myriad of articles bemoaning the decline of sport hunting. Here is one: https://www.outdoorlife.com/why-we-a...how-to-fix-it/
Although the title of that article includes the phrase ďwhy it matters,Ē I couldnít find any discussion of that topic contained therein. I guess itís too obvious. (Too many deer without hunters?)
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:07 PM
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Although the title of that article includes the phrase “why it matters,” I couldn’t find any discussion of that topic contained therein. I guess it’s too obvious. (Too many deer without hunters?)
I did not click on the article, but it's not necessarily all that obvious. Sounds like a clickbait title.

Part of it is wildlife population control. Without enough predators (due to habitat destruction), prey animals like deer can become overpopulated. So yes, too many deer is one of the problems that you can have.

Another problem is that wilderness and wildlife conservation is often funded by hunting licenses and donations that most often come from hunting groups and organizations. Many conservation efforts are underfunded and are now looking for alternate funding (or possible shut-downs) due to the decline in hunting.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 10-02-2019 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 10-03-2019, 02:13 AM
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Yes, most states derive most or all of their wildlife budgets from hunting and fishing licenses, tags, and Pittman-Robertson money (excise tax on firearms, ammo, archery equipment). The exceptions can be counted on one hand, I know Missouri has a fractional sales tax.

It's a lot easier to exploit an existing interest for funding than it is to solicit funds from people who aren't interested.
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:39 PM
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I used to hunt, but I gave up in my mid 40’s. I got tired of getting up at 0 god 30, and freezing my butt off. Plus I began to be concerned with TB in deer and now the CWD. I have some property, I let folks hunt there, but they aren’t very successful. Big thing is most hunters are reluctant to shoot a doe. Usually they wait until the last day of hunting to even think about shooting a doe. So hunting isn’t doing a very good job at controlling the population.
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:46 PM
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Although the title of that article includes the phrase ďwhy it matters,Ē I couldnít find any discussion of that topic contained therein. I guess itís too obvious. (Too many deer without hunters?)
Not at all. The season limits for deer are very low and the seasons are very short. All you have to do is increase the limits and increase the length of the season.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:23 PM
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I used to hunt, but I gave up in my mid 40ís. I got tired of getting up at 0 god 30, and freezing my butt off. Plus I began to be concerned with TB in deer and now the CWD. I have some property, I let folks hunt there, but they arenít very successful. Big thing is most hunters are reluctant to shoot a doe. Usually they wait until the last day of hunting to even think about shooting a doe. So hunting isnít doing a very good job at controlling the population.
Every single sentence is opposite of my experience, but it's certainly not wrong just different cultural background, I can already tell that you are somewhere east of the Mississippi.

We have different seasons for buck and doe so you decide months ahead what you want to go for; starting this last year you can apply for both (but only get one). Some states have a "earn a buck" program, where you need to shoot a doe to get a buck tag.

It's not just controlling the population by lowering numbers, but also reducing incentives for them to enter populated areas (because humans are scary), reducing pressure on the environment.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:30 PM
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from what ive read Bambi the movie and book really started the negative feelings/public perception against hunting to the point that there was a 40 percent drop in the hunting-related goods industry business after the movie came out that was never recovered from
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Old 10-06-2019, 05:23 AM
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from what ive read Bambi the movie and book really started the negative feelings/public perception against hunting to the point that there was a 40 percent drop in the hunting-related goods industry business after the movie came out that was never recovered from
Sorry, but this is just patent bullshit from start to finish. I'll dig some data once I have the time, but I know the above statement is not true.
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Old 10-06-2019, 05:42 AM
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what does OP mean by "sport" hunting? Hunting just for trophies? I mean, I don't need venison just to get by, but I'm not killing a deer just for the sake of doing so.

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I used to hunt, but I gave up in my mid 40ís. I got tired of getting up at 0 god 30, and freezing my butt off. Plus I began to be concerned with TB in deer and now the CWD. I have some property, I let folks hunt there, but they arenít very successful. Big thing is most hunters are reluctant to shoot a doe. Usually they wait until the last day of hunting to even think about shooting a doe. So hunting isnít doing a very good job at controlling the population.
The problem is that deer tend to congregate around the fringes of human development (suburbs,) where by and large hunting is prohibited. I live literally 10 minutes north of Detroit and I regularly see deer waltzing around. Deer are dumb as rocks but at the very least they know where food is and predators aren't.
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Old 10-06-2019, 02:59 PM
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If I had to guess as to reasons for the decline in hunters I'd first look at single parent homes. Four out of five single parent homes are headed by women, a group traditionally underrepresented among hunters. If your parent doesn't take you hunting, you're not likely to pick it up as a sport. You might go hunting with your uncles, but less likely, and the sport is expensive enough to make the barrier to entry high.

Once you've got all the gear ongoing expenses are usually minimal, unless you go in for leasing land or joining a hunting club, but the capital expenditure for your first trip is high unless you've got the stuff around the house.
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Old 10-06-2019, 03:43 PM
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what does OP mean by "sport" hunting? Hunting just for trophies? I mean, I don't need venison just to get by, but I'm not killing a deer just for the sake of doing so.
Yeah it's a weird false dichotomy. Almost all hunters will take the bigger buck if given a choice between two, are they going for sport? Do some do it not for the meat? I'm sure it happens but most at minimum take the backstraps, tenderloins, and legs, and most states have wanton waste laws requiring you to do so. The African world is a little alien to me, but while people criticize it as a trophy focus, I understand that the meat is usually donated and US and other country laws prohibit importing foreign meat.
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Once you've got all the gear ongoing expenses are usually minimal
Gasoline is a big one, unless you already live rurally. Plus tag costs vary.
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Old 10-06-2019, 04:17 PM
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If I had to guess as to reasons for the decline in hunters I'd first look at single parent homes. Four out of five single parent homes are headed by women, a group traditionally underrepresented among hunters. If your parent doesn't take you hunting, you're not likely to pick it up as a sport. You might go hunting with your uncles, but less likely, and the sport is expensive enough to make the barrier to entry high.
Why "uncles"? There's still a dad around in most such situations.
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Old 10-06-2019, 04:35 PM
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After the zombie apocalypse, we'll be eating deer, opossum, and turkey, all present in our tiny urban yard. We'll have to go a little farther afield for ducks and geese, but not that far.
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Old 10-06-2019, 05:05 PM
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It's not declined here in S. Arkansas. The number of hunters coming from urban areas and out-of-state has increased.
I hate deer season for a lot of reasons we won't go into here. But the deer population is out to kill me. Not mentioning how they decimate my garden and yard every year. I have no love lost for Bambi. The more they kill the happier I am. Just please, please don't shoot off the county road. I'm back in those woods. If there's a gate it stands to reason a house is down that driveway. Did I say I hate deer season?
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:12 PM
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The problem is that deer tend to congregate around the fringes of human development (suburbs,) where by and large hunting is prohibited. I live literally 10 minutes north of Detroit and I regularly see deer waltzing around. Deer are dumb as rocks but at the very least they know where food is and predators aren't.
Specific towns may have ordinances against it, but from my quick reading of the regs, bow hunting is allowed in Wayne County, provided you follow the rules about distance from dwellings.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:09 AM
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I get the idea that it's a hard activity to get into unless you learn it from your parents.

My parents didn't do anything like that. I have zero moral qualms about shooting a deer and eating it, but I'd have not idea how to go about doing it. I know you buy a licensee and you shoot a rifle at a deer, but I have no idea where to go shoot a deer, and no idea what to do with a deer once I've shot it.

Seems like there's easier ways to get meat into the freezer. Like going to a grocery store.

Last edited by Mdcastle; 10-08-2019 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:11 PM
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The problem is that deer tend to congregate around the fringes of human development (suburbs,) where by and large hunting is prohibited. I live literally 10 minutes north of Detroit and I regularly see deer waltzing around. Deer are dumb as rocks but at the very least they know where food is and predators aren't.
I live right across the Hudson from NY and you see deer in the woods along the road north of us, they can look up from their grazing to see the Manhattan skyline. So yeah, no way is private hunting a feasible way to get rid of them.

Maybe somewhere at some point reduced hunting is part of the reason there are so many that they migrated to within less than a mile of the biggest city, but probably also other causes and anyway the toothpaste is out of the tube now.

On single parent households I guess that would be among the general changes in society that's parallel with declines in hobbies like hunting. Not that you can pin down what causes what vs. which different things are symptoms of the same underlying attitude changes. But it seems more to do with social change than some simple cause/effect of economics or laws, like it being much more/less necessary to hunt (probably not), more places off limits to it (probably not) etc. It seems like mainly people not wanting to do it as much and why people want or don't want to do stuff is typically complicated.

I come from a long line of city folk, no hunters, never thought of taking it up.

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Old 10-08-2019, 06:36 PM
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Hunting is definitely reduced around here. When I first moved to the area opening day of main deer season was marked at the first legal light moment of dawn (or maybe just a hair before) by a fusillade of shots coming from all directions. (I used to wonder how many of the people firing actually had a deer in their sights.) And I'd have to fend off for a couple of weeks in advance multiple hunters, many of them from outside the area and some of them not really wanting to take no for an answer, scouting for a place to hunt and to put up stands. By the last few years it was down to maybe one or two requests a season, and this year I don't think there were any new people asking. Last year there were no shots right at dawn, and only a handful that I heard all morning. (This year so far only bow season's open.)


For safety reasons I only allow one party in a given year, and once I find a good crew they've got the hunting here for as long as they want it; the individual people in the party do vary some as older people drop out and younger ones come in. I never learned to hunt myself, don't have the time to put into learning it now, and don't want anybody out there shooting who doesn't know what they're doing even if it's me.

Most of my immediate neighbors do hunt. They're mostly Old Order Mennonite and they're hunting for meat. The crew I allow are also hunting for meat -- that's one of my requirements in choosing hunters. They (and probably the Mennonites) certainly will brag about a many-pronged buck if they get one but they'll also take doe. It's now very easy to get doe permits around here -- NY DEC is clearly trying to get the population down; most areas in this state have excess deer population. I think everybody in the hunting party has at least one doe/antlerless deer permit if not more along with their buck permits; and I get five doe permits every year, due to deer damage to farm crops, which are only good on this property but can be filled by anyone with a hunting license (the hunters' permits are good only for that hunter, but anywhere in the state that it's legal to hunt, and some of them hunt more than one property.) I'll be surprised if we get all of everyone's doe permits filled, but I don't want anyone hesitating to take a doe because they don't want to use their last permit in case they get a chance at a buck.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:37 PM
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I have zero moral qualms about shooting a deer and eating it, but I'd have not idea how to go about doing it. I know you buy a licensee and you shoot a rifle at a deer, but I have no idea where to go shoot a deer, and no idea what to do with a deer once I've shot it.
Here's the thumbnail version:

Whitetail deer hunting is basically sniping. You sit. Quietly. And wait. And wait. And wait. Hoping a deer will walk by. And when one's within shooting range, you aim at its lungs and shoot it.

Assuming it was a good shot, the deer will (usually) run a few hundred yards and then die. If the vegetation is thick, you have to track the blood trail. That can take a while.

Once you find the deer, you place a tag on it. And then you need to "gut it." This is the process of removing most of its organs using a sharp knife.

After you've gutted it, you need to drag it to your truck. If you're alone, it's harder than what you think.

After you've gutted it, you need to "check it in." In some states it means you need to haul the deer to a check station. In other states you call a 1-800 number.

The deer then needs to be processed to harvest the meat. You can either do it yourself or take it to a butcher. Some people will also save and tan the hide. And some will mount the head.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:18 PM
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So what are the "food safety" rules with a your newly harvested deer? You hear over and over again about how meat isn't supposed to sit outside of the fridge more than two hours, but it hardly seems a practical timeframe to get the deer from the spot woods into your freezer? I'm assuming that it's generally closer to freezing than closer to room temperature outside during deer season helps keep it fresh?

Last edited by Mdcastle; 10-08-2019 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:38 AM
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I get the idea that it's a hard activity to get into unless you learn it from your parents.
Yes it's hard, you can also get a mentor, I wish there were easier ways to do that. I started at 25.
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Whitetail deer hunting is basically sniping. You sit. Quietly. And wait. And wait. And wait. Hoping a deer will walk by. And when one's within shooting range, you aim at its lungs and shoot it.
Short range sniping, because cover can often be heavy.

Mule deer hunting is a lot of hiking usually. Find some place high up a mountain where you can see far. Spot some and make your way over, shots usually farther. YMMV.
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So what are the "food safety" rules with a your newly harvested deer? You hear over and over again about how meat isn't supposed to sit outside of the fridge more than two hours, but it hardly seems a practical timeframe to get the deer from the spot woods into your freezer? I'm assuming that it's generally closer to freezing than closer to room temperature outside during deer season helps keep it fresh?
Yes, it's a late fall/winter activity. You don't need to get it to the freezer, you either have to get into an ice chest with skin off and quartered, or to a cold garage.

Domestic meat suggestions a) err on the side of caution and b) some factory meat handling processes are highly automated and not as sanitary.

You occasionally see people say that antelope is "not good." Those people are uninformed. However it is an August/September activity, so quick meat processing and cooling is crucial. It might impart more off flavors than actual spoiling, even in 90 degree heat.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:21 AM
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what does OP mean by "sport" hunting?
As opposed to sustenance hunting.

You may eat the meat of the animal you kill, and good on ya, but you don't hunt because you have to. You're not going to starve if you don't shoot enough game before winter.

Last edited by HeyHomie; 10-11-2019 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:30 AM
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Here's the thumbnail version:

Whitetail deer hunting is basically sniping. You sit. Quietly. And wait. And wait. And wait. Hoping a deer will walk by. And when one's within shooting range, you aim at its lungs and shoot it.

Assuming it was a good shot, the deer will (usually) run a few hundred yards and then die. If the vegetation is thick, you have to track the blood trail. That can take a while.

Once you find the deer, you place a tag on it. And then you need to "gut it." This is the process of removing most of its organs using a sharp knife.

After you've gutted it, you need to drag it to your truck. If you're alone, it's harder than what you think.

After you've gutted it, you need to "check it in." In some states it means you need to haul the deer to a check station. In other states you call a 1-800 number.

The deer then needs to be processed to harvest the meat. You can either do it yourself or take it to a butcher. Some people will also save and tan the hide. And some will mount the head.
Thank you. what do you do with the guts? Haul them out too or leave them for the birds? I know fish guts typically go back into the water.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:41 AM
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Thanks all for your responses. i was having similar questions and your answers were helpful to me.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:50 AM
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...what do you do with the guts? Haul them out too or leave them for the birds? I know fish guts typically go back into the water.
Normally you just leave them on the ground. Animals will eat them.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:28 PM
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Normally you just leave them on the ground. Animals will eat them.
NO!!!!! Our dogs very often find and eat those gutpiles, then return to our house where they vomit.

Three or four (?) years ago a nice man came over, introduced himself, and asked if he could hunt deer on our land. We discussed it, then told him he could as long as he bagged the guts and hauled them out. He got a buck and in the excitement forgot to take the guts. Although he apologized profusely, since that experience we have not allowed hunters on our property.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:33 PM
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NO!!!!! Our dogs very often find and eat those gutpiles, then return to our house where they vomit.

Three or four (?) years ago a nice man came over, introduced himself, and asked if he could hunt deer on our land. We discussed it, then told him he could as long as he bagged the guts and hauled them out. He got a buck and in the excitement forgot to take the guts. Although he apologized profusely, since that experience we have not allowed hunters on our property.
Which leads to another question, how tdo hunters know where they're allowed to hunt. I assume parks are off limits, and everything else is private property.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:36 PM
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Which leads to another question, how tdo hunters know where they're allowed to hunt. I assume parks are off limits, and everything else is private property.
Pennsylvania has zillions of acres of State Game Lands. Most people I know hunt on public land or have a friend with property. Our land is posted NO HUNTING and NO TRESPASSING.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:43 AM
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Which leads to another question, how tdo hunters know where they're allowed to hunt. I assume parks are off limits, and everything else is private property.
Whether parks allow hunting, and if so whether they limit the number of hunters and one has to apply through their own permitting system, depends on the park.

In NYState, at least (I expect other states have similar regulations):

First, it's illegal to shoot across or from a public road; or to shoot within 500 feet (firearm; 250 feet for a crossbow, 150 feet for a regular bow) of a school, playground, occupied factory or church, or of a house or a farm barn in use unless you are or have the permission of the owner/tenant.

Outside those limits: people who don't want hunters on private property are supposed to post it -- one generally buys standard signs which are routinely on the market; signs them with landowner's name and address; and staples them to trees or to posts every couple of hundred feet around the property. If the land's not posted, the assumption is that people can hunt there, though if the landowner tells them to leave they're supposed to leave. In some areas there's still quite a bit of unposted land. In others there's very little, and people who want to hunt in that area have to either hunt their own land if they have some, or find a landowner who will give them permission. Some people wind up paying significant cash for the permission, though in other cases compensation may just be a share of the meat, help with checking and putting up posted signs, and/or things of that sort.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:04 AM
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I was stopped once by a game warden for not having a hunting license. I explained that I wasn't hunting, I was walking my own property and was armed for personal protection. I then pointed out that he was trespassing, as our property was posted.

We discussed the situation for a while and parted on good terms. I agreed that he was welcome on our land and he agreed to take care of anyone ignoring our signs.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:46 AM
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NO!!!!! Our dogs very often find and eat those gutpiles, then return to our house where they vomit.

Three or four (?) years ago a nice man came over, introduced himself, and asked if he could hunt deer on our land. We discussed it, then told him he could as long as he bagged the guts and hauled them out. He got a buck and in the excitement forgot to take the guts. Although he apologized profusely, since that experience we have not allowed hunters on our property.
Yes, that's why I said "normally." If you are hunting on private land, the landowner can certainly require you to bag and remove the gut pile. But (based on my experience) most of the time the homeowner doesn't have an issue with it. And I believe most hunters simply leave the gut pile on the ground when hunting on public land.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:46 PM
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Why "uncles"? There's still a dad around in most such situations.
And if that "Dad" is behind on child support he will most likely not be eligible to purchase a hunting license.
Our 12 year old children are required to submit their social security number to the State before they can get their Firearms Safety Certificate just to have it on file for dead beat dads and it is enforced across the nation. I am told their are an exception or 2 but i haven't seen any.

Loss of public hunting land is a huge reason for decline in hunting.
Large land corporations are leasing land to offset taxes and by doing that they still get the tax breaks for public access because the lease only keeps out other hunters.

I have been involved in Youth Hunter Education/Firearms Safety for over 35 years and the number of students are very low. Today the classes run almost even boys and girls, i even had a class a couple years ago where there were more girls! Back in the '80s very few girls were taking the training.

Forest management isn't helping either. The aspen forests are disappearing via the bulldozer and herbicides to re-forest in Red and White Pine.
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
As opposed to sustenance hunting.

You may eat the meat of the animal you kill, and good on ya, but you don't hunt because you have to. You're not going to starve if you don't shoot enough game before winter.
As a kid, my friend's family hunted for deer when they could, for the meat.

I didn't get the impression that they'd starve without the deer, but it was a lot of meat for - effectively - the cost of a bullet. If you spare the cost of meat for a dozen or so meals, that could mean the difference between socks for Christmas or a gaming console. For a poor family, that's fairly significant.

That said, guns are so expensive these days that you'd probably need to kill a whole lot of deer to really start living that dream.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 10-13-2019 at 12:49 AM.
  #38  
Old 10-13-2019, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Yes, that's why I said "normally." If you are hunting on private land, the landowner can certainly require you to bag and remove the gut pile. But (based on my experience) most of the time the homeowner doesn't have an issue with it. And I believe most hunters simply leave the gut pile on the ground when hunting on public land.
I figure the coyotes will usually get it before the dogs will.

Note that 'usually', though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
I didn't get the impression that they'd starve without the deer, but it was a lot of meat for - effectively - the cost of a bullet. If you spare the cost of meat for a dozen or so meals, that could mean the difference between socks for Christmas or a gaming console. For a poor family, that's fairly significant.
This.

Hunted meat can make quite a difference in whether funds are available for other things. And one deer, in the Northeast, will probably field dress at somewhere more than 100 lbs, and yield somewhere more than 50 lbs boneless meat. Unless the family is large, that's likely to be a good bit more than a dozen meals; and the family -- especially if it's a large one -- may well take more than one deer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
That said, guns are so expensive these days that you'd probably need to kill a whole lot of deer to really start living that dream.
Guns keep, though. Many people are hunting with their parent's or grandparent's guns, and don't need to go out and buy new ones.

And meat is also expensive these days.
  #39  
Old 10-14-2019, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
Which leads to another question, how tdo hunters know where they're allowed to hunt. I assume parks are off limits, and everything else is private property.
Map. Almost anywhere yellow or olive green is fair game. Brown too, I think. Most but not all of the medium green is off limits. Other places vary depending on which location, or personal status (red is often only tribal members, blue may have limited application-based opportunities).

Map doesn't cover state land, which varies greatly and is a declining resource. Everything private requires ownership, permission, or purchasing a lease.
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:04 PM
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AFAIK, it's declining, but I think the main reason for the decline is a decrease in the number of people living in rural areas vs. urban/suburban ones and/or having land to hunt on. Most people I know don't have huntable land, or don't know anyone who does, so there's little opportunity to go hunting, even if you happen to have the requisite armament and gear. I've personally been bird hunting a handful of times, and always with people who happened to have land to hunt on- friends of my grandfather or a friend-of-a-friend whose father had some agricultural acreage out in the country.

But without that kind of connection, I would be entirely out of luck save the small handful of public hunting areas, most of which are at least an hour, if not more away.
  #41  
Old 10-16-2019, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
As a kid, my friend's family hunted for deer when they could, for the meat.

I didn't get the impression that they'd starve without the deer, but it was a lot of meat for - effectively - the cost of a bullet. If you spare the cost of meat for a dozen or so meals, that could mean the difference between socks for Christmas or a gaming console. For a poor family, that's fairly significant.
This is, in fact, a large part of the draw for some of the hunters 'round here, in this dirt-poor mining community I live in (seriously: Iron County is like the 9th-poorest county in Missouri). Starvation: probably not. The difference between socks or a gaming console: very likely.

Although to be fair, the starvation issues has come up sometimes. There are people around here for whom bagging a deer or not determines whether or not they'll eat. The Game Warden has been known to look the other way at "off-season hunting," as it's jokingly called.
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