The future of hunting and how we contribute...

TheArdentOutdoorsman

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Oh boy, I'm sure to stir the pot with this but I'm interested to hear everyone's take. As someone with abstract thought process I cant help but ponder where the future of hunting is headed. I don't claim to be a historian, a wildlife biologist, or a law professor, just a fella with logic.

The history of hunting in America went through a spell where monetary value slowly but surely eradicated many resources and became such a problem that the federal government intervened with legislation on multiple occasions. The art of hunting became once again an activity anyone could participate in, with little needed to enjoy, and opportunities were available out the back door. Participation went through the roof moving forward and the increased revenue led to more public lands and conservation programs. As we fast forward to where we are now, its becoming evident that our future is once again in Jeopardy. Hunter participation has been declining and states are sending the red flag for funding of current resources. A culmination of factors have contributed but monetary value on hunting has risen to a degree we have not seen since the days of buffalo and hot fur trade. Outfitters continue to grow, eliminating opportunities for locals and low income hunters. States continue to bend rules in favor of outfitters from tag allocation, access, etc. Land leases from outfitters have driven land values up and hunting opportunity down (especially in the midwest). The majority of hunters cannot match what the cost an outfitter cranking out 20 guys a year on a 300 acre farm can at $2-6k a pop. I understand these are families running the outfitters mostly and blue collar folks behind many operations but as value increases, this will not remain the same. Wealthy investors have already started funding their own outfits in many western states, locking up massive tracts of land for extreme fee hunts ($10k+). I have ran across a couple of those mentioned and its nothing but a head for the wall to them and they seem very unconcerned about conservation or anything related. As customers of the outfitters, we fuel the fire. Our funds spent are generally used to lock down more land, and to grow the business. How will we explain to future generations that we dropped the ball for our own greed and pushed their opportunity out the window? Has anyone else thought about this or how we may find a solution? I'm not bashing outfitters as many are probably consumed with the job and don't particularly think about it from this angle. I'm also only talking about what I have seen in the midwest states over the past 3 decades and now see "more" of, in the western regions. States love the outfitters so they will not save us from ourselves. Where might we go from here?
 
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goathunter.oregon

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I live in Oregon where there's lots of state and federal land to hunt on, so what we've seen here is not the same situation as in the midwest. Still, we do have areas where a large percentage of the land is privately owned and we have an Access And Habitat Board (A&HB) that funnels money to private landowners in exchange for allowing public hunting access on their land. The A&HB also works with the large timber companies to implement "travel management areas" where the gates get opened during rifle deer and elk season for some drive-in access to remote areas. I think it's a great program and it could be replicated in other states. It's not the kind of money that landowners can get from leasing to an outfitter, but not all land has the type of trophy quality game that an outfitter wants.
 

Bighorner

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I think the best way to keep things rolling is to be involved in the decision making process and voicing your opinion as politely as possible. I enjoy the private land access programs, but they are always a season away from ending. I think that taking care of public land the same way a private individual would take care of their land is important. That is the ground that we can all claim as ours to enjoy. It's not at someone else temporary discresssion. I understand that there are exceptions, but they are very few and far between. If we can keep that land we will atleast have a place to go. I think that is our ace in the hole and the only thing that has kept western state hunting from being privatized to the extend the midwest and eastern states hunting has.

I also think building relationship is important. It's those relationships that result in a text message about some proposed regulations or hand shake access to private ground. I think most all of us want the same thing. We want some space to enjoy pursuing animals in one way or another.

I think outfitters have their place without a doubt, but I also think personal relationships can fill the middle ground of needing professional help and getting help from a friend. Having someone give you some legit help is vaulable.

There has been a pretty steep decline in access and a sharp increase in prices in my area over the past 20 years, but I feel it is leveling off. There are areas with above objective elk populations that has a pile of good access. Overall it's not great, but in think it's a long way from terrible.
 
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TheArdentOutdoorsman

TheArdentOutdoorsman

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Great insight gentlemen. I think the idea of funneling landowners money to open their land for hunting is a great idea. It seems to do really well in Kansas also. What is the best way to impact future legislation as someone who may not live in the state said legislation is being voted on?
 

Bighorner

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I best way I know of is through emails or phone calls to the folks involved.

There are bunch of organizations that you can support. Sometimes there stance is different than yours, sometimes it's not.

I'm my humble opinion the best bag for you buck is taking the time to respectfully write each person involved on your own. It shows you are informed and care enough to want to have your voice heard before a decision is made.
 

Doc Holliday

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"Hunting"....what is that exactly in 2022. 50 years ago there weren't many definitions. Now, you got everything from high fence operations in Texas to public land whitetail hunting in the east.

For purposes of this forum and thread, is a guy packing in from a trailhead in a Colorado OTC unit with camp on his back "hunting"? Yes he is. Is a guy who goes to a private land elk hunt in montana for $15K "hunting"? Yes he is.

When you ask about the future of hunting, I see the public land hunter doing more "camping" than anything else. The governments and politicians and their affluent constituents will (as in all things) continue to move the needle to benefit and enrich themselves and their friends.

What can you do about it? Sadly, my honest opinion is save your pennies to buy land or pay for access to private lands.
 

Bighorner

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I can only speak to the areas I'm familiar with, but in a lot of cases buying land in a large enough quantity to regularly hunt elk and mule deer of any quality is going to be hard to swing for a lot of people. 3-6 million is a pretty large outlay just because you want to hunt. 14th

Lately I have been seeing very small acreage being sold for a premium because they are "hunting properties."

40 and 80, even 160 acres is likely not going to put you on game reliably in arid areas. You can certainly do it. But it takes being there when the animals are there. Without a dout you could get a big mule deer, but probably not every year. Same with elk. That quarter section may be close to 1 million dollars in a good area with good water but without the ability to produce a lot of income for you to offset the price. If you want 40 acres in the desert, it's pretty cheap, but you may be waiting a long time for an antelope to walk across it.

A lot of folks buying up hobby ranch sized acreage are still going to end up needing to find larger tracks to get on to hunt.

I feel like we are getting close to hitting a ceiling on the price of outfitter animals. There was a big run up, atleast around here, then it stabilized. Unless you can offer a truly premium experience, competition will hopefully keep things close to where they are.

I am cautiously optimistic that the downward trend is slowing.
 
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TheArdentOutdoorsman

TheArdentOutdoorsman

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"Hunting"....what is that exactly in 2022. 50 years ago there weren't many definitions. Now, you got everything from high fence operations in Texas to public land whitetail hunting in the east.

For purposes of this forum and thread, is a guy packing in from a trailhead in a Colorado OTC unit with camp on his back "hunting"? Yes he is. Is a guy who goes to a private land elk hunt in montana for $15K "hunting"? Yes he is.

When you ask about the future of hunting, I see the public land hunter doing more "camping" than anything else. The governments and politicians and their affluent constituents will (as in all things) continue to move the needle to benefit and enrich themselves and their friends.

What can you do about it? Sadly, my honest opinion is save your pennies to buy land or pay for access to private lands.

I'm not worried about myself, I'm worried about future generations less fortunate. Monetary value eroding opportunity was the main discussion. Not sure what relevance the first 3/4 of your post had on the issue.
 
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moxford

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Look at Europe - it is where we are headed especially as states continue to work on selling off their land due to shitty fiscal management. They have to balance / CYA and there is just all this land just sitting there to be sold.

Save up, buy your own before it is gone, because it is going.
 
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TheArdentOutdoorsman

TheArdentOutdoorsman

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Look at Europe - it is where we are headed especially as states continue to work on selling off their land due to shitty fiscal management. They have to balance / CYA and there is just all this land just sitting there to be sold.

Save up, buy your own before it is gone, because it is going.
This is about the way I see it going also, sadly.
 

Mojave Kid

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Mar 31, 2022
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New guy on this forum but an older hunter. As previously stated, I see the US eventually going in the direction of Europe where only wealthy hunters can enjoy and afford hunting on private land. Out west in California, we have a lot of BLM land to hunt but not all areas are productive and with the drought, every year we have to keep looking for new areas so as not to over hunt productive spots.
Even though the numbers of hunters are decreasing, the number of hunt able tracts are decreasing as well. just try dove hunting Imperial Valley all the way to Yuma and north to Blythe and experience the amount of hunters and the craziness of it.
I am no expert, but the style of farming in California has contributed to the rapid disappearance of wild pheasants. There are no rows of wild vegetation for the birds to hide and nest in which only leaves the vegetation along the irrigation canals. Some small farm owners have seen the light and farm in such a manner to produce birds and they sell hunting access to their farms but it's expensive because there are hunters who will pay.
I am retired and am seriously considering paying to join a hunting club so I can access good hunt able land.
God forbid trout fishing here goes the way of the UK....
 

MattB

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Not to be too dismissive, but do you guys who think we are headed toward the European model even understand what that means? That would never fly in the U.S. as it is fundamentally in opposition to our current model.
 

Squirrel Master

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Mar 17, 2018
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It's changed so much...I'll be 44 next month. When I was a kid, here in Texas, my Dad always had places to take me that either his friends just let us hunt on, or we leased. But to lease back then was normally just a couple hundred bucks a year if that. Any legal deer we saw we shot. And we were stoked!! As I got older, it became more about antlers to most folks here. I'd be embarrassed to tell y'all how much I pay for leases here now. But I'm on a couple really good ones and see a ton of animals, so the management has helped the herd overall for sure and made things better in some ways.

In other ways, it's worse. I don't get excited to see does or small bucks like I used to. My 5 year old granddaughter is consumed with hunting, but she's seen so many deer she can tell you if they're a "shooter" or not right away. It's kinda cool, but I wish she could have hunted when I was a kid and saw 3 deer all year and would be happy to shoot a spike or basket rack six point.

The days of just going hunting and killing a deer are gone. The days of public land that isn't crowded are pretty well gone. Technology has taken the place of woodsmanship. Easy access, heated blinds, rifles that shoot 1k yards and bows that shoot 400 fps have replaced the old ways that my Dad and Grandpa taught me, and the old tools and guns they used for the most part. But I roll with the changes and pass it on, because above all else I'm a hunter and always will be. So to me, the most important thing we can do is just that. Pass it on. Nothing stays the same.
 

Rich M

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Face it, hunting is dying.

If you got nowhere to go, you dont go. Thats why license sales are down.

We can revive it they say, we need more numbers. LOL!

Pack em into your hunting area, mine has been full for years. Takes me 2-3-4 yrs to get a permit to hunt locally. Need more hunters around here like a hole in a boat.
 

BuckeyeRifleman

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Ohio
What we need is incentive (through federal/state funding and tax breaks) for…

A) Private landowners to open their lands to public hunters. This is especially true for corporate landowners as corporate owned farms have become the norm.

B) States to ensure the rights of hunters, resident and nonresident alike. Conservative states are increasingly supporting increased outfitter welfare with NR opportunities and liberal states are banning certain forms of trapping and hunting altogether. We need to use federal PR dollars to incentivize states to manage within the principles of the NA model.

Bottom line it will require involvement, activism, and a little bit of selflessness to keep things going. I think we are capable of it, but it won’t be easy.
 
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