Hunting a Dying Sport? I'm Not Buying It!

Hunting a Dying Sport? I'm Not Buying It!

Lots of people like to talk about how hunting is a dying sport. But after looking at the most recent hunting license sales report here in my home state of Pennsylvania, I ain't buying it!

If you look at the report (Pennsylvania Hunting License Sales), you'll see that as of the end of December, the Pennsylvania Game Commission had sold 923,795 hunting licenses. That's 2,840 more licenses than they sold during the same period in 2010 - an increase of about 0.3 percent. Now, I'll grant you that isn't much of an increase, but it's DEFINITELY not a precipitous decline. And when you look at the bowhunting numbers, things are even more rosy. According to the report, archery license sales for the period were up 2.9 percent to 297,462; no doubt due in part to the growing number of crossbow hunters taking to the field.

I realize that sales figures from one state don't constitute a national trend. However, there is no denying that Pennsylvania is a bellwether state when it comes to hunting. Along with a handful of other states such as Texas, Michigan and Wisconsin, Pennsylvania plays a foundational role in America's sporting community. And with nearly 1 million licensed hunters - and nearly 300,000 bowhunters - I can tell you this sport isn't dying anytime soon.


I also find the numbers compelling when you consider the widespread dissatisfaction that exists over the Pennsylvania Game Commission's deer-management strategy. There is no doubt that policies adopted by the agency have resulted in lower deer numbers across many areas of this state over the past decade. As a result, many hunters report seeing fewer deer, and many have predicted this unrest would lead to a precipitous decline in hunter numbers. But despite plenty of rancor, it looks like plenty of hunters are sticking it out.


Anecdotally, I don't see a lot of gloom and doom out there either. I am friends with the owners of the two largest archery pro shops in my area and both report strong sales in 2011, both in terms of compound bows and crossbows, which continue to explode in popularity. I'm sure the difficult economy has forced many sportsmen to delay big-ticket purchases, but apparently there are still enough passionate hunters out there to keep the cash registers ringing.


I realize the long-term trend in hunter numbers shows a slow, steady decline. I realize the hunting population as a whole is aging and we aren't necessarily bringing enough new hunters into the sport to replace all the old-timers who are dropping out. I realize the number of hunters as a percentage of the total population isn't as great as it once was. I realize we face challenges in the form of a society that is increasingly disconnected from nature. But all that being said, I'm still not ready to put the nails in hunting's coffin.

In fact, I feel pretty confident I'll be bowhunting with my grandchildren someday. What say you?

Recommended for You

Create your own fluffy, Chinese-style bao buns at home with this recipe! Fill them with tender, braised venison shoulder or any other wild game meat you'd like. Recipes

Venison Bao Buns Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Create your own fluffy, Chinese-style bao buns at home with this recipe! Fill them with...

Bowtech's 2019 flagship has it all. Let us break it down for you! Bows

Bow Review: Bowtech Realm SR6

Jon E. Silks

Bowtech's 2019 flagship has it all. Let us break it down for you!




Related Stories> Ted Nugent Talks About His New Book> Mule Deep In The Backcountry> Podcasts

Still Going Strong

October 28, 2010

Related Stories> Ted Nugent Talks About His New Book> Mule Deep In The Backcountry>

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint Archery evolves in design and performance with the introduction of the new CP400 Crossbow.

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Designed exclusively for their crossbows, Ravin has announced three new mechanical broadheads to maximize penetration and overall performance.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Check out our picks for the best new bow sights from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

Best New Bow Sights for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new bow sights from the 2019 ATA Show!

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm SS performed in our technical tests! Bows

2019 Bowtech Launch: Realm SR6 & SS Review

Jon E. Silks - November 07, 2018

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm...

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top picks! ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top...

See More Stories

More Stories

In this edition of Stories

Food Plots

Bowhunting Online Staff - July 25, 2018

In this edition of "Tech Talk," Mike Carney shares insight on how to add punch to your hunt by

I'm forever at a loss regarding New Year's Resolutions.  I've never smoked a cigarette, can't Stories

New Year's Resolutions for Bowhunters

Patrick Meitin - January 03, 2013

I'm forever at a loss regarding New Year's Resolutions.  I've never smoked a cigarette, can't

There is a collective discontent in the hunting community over television hunters and other hunters Stories

The Real Heroes of Bowhunting

Tom Miranda - December 30, 2013

There is a collective discontent in the hunting community over television hunters and other...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.