No matter what your political position is going into next month, as a hunter you have to be thrilled when The Wall Street Journal runs a positive front-page article about hunting, not to mention women hunters.
The article is framed with reference to the much-crazed attention that VP candidate Sarah Palin has brought to the stage with her legacy as a huntress. However, the essence of the article is far more in depth regarding the shooting industry and its attention on one of the few growing populations of hunters - women.
This article is a great reminder that we are all responsible for ensuring that there is a next generation of hunters. Interestingly, the issue of a hunter decline hit me in the face just last night while watching the Kent Hrbek Outdoors show on the World Fishing Network. Kent and his co-host were on a turkey hunt in Minnesota and stated that the average hunter age in the state was 49 years old. I was floored and am deeply concerned that we are losing the battle in preserving our legacy. The Wall Street article reinforced this by stating that hunter numbers have dropped from 14.1 million to 12.5 million for the 15 year period ending in 2006.
My concern goes beyond just the numbers and does reflect the potential cultural shift that happens when stakeholder groups lose their voice. I worry about whether the cultural shift away from gun ownership and public land access and conservation will begin to accelerate so that my kids or future grand kids won't even have the opportunity to hunt, even if I do my individual part in passing on the legacy in my family.
For now I will celebrate this article as an accomplishment in highlighting what is good and right about hunting. And this season you can be darn sure that I'm going to take my daughter out in the field as often as she wants.