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September 21, 2007

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The Hunting Brotherhood

Hunters are everywhere. Statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife might say that participation numbers are in a slow, steady decline and that the age of the average hunter would qualify as an impressive IQ score—but I don’t believe that all is lost. Far from it.

Antelopesmcopy Case in point. I was just out in New Mexico antelope hunting with some friends when we pulled into restaurant in Moriarty, right off the old Route 66. Our waitress, who couldn’t have been more than 16 years old, eyed us up—a trio of dusty, camo-clad guys—and asked if we were hunters. When we told her we had each shot an antelope (I'm pictured with mine on the right), I braced myself for her response, which I imagined would fall somewhere between a blank stare and fits of projectile vomiting.

Instead, her face lit up and she asked if she could go to our truck and see them.


Turns out, she was hunting that morning, too—shooting doves with the 20-gauge Beretta semi-auto she got for Christmas. She had bagged about 10 or so birds with a box of shells and when we complimented her on her shooting, her smile was big as the New Mexico sky.

After that we started sharing hunting stories, the way hunters will whenever they gather. She told us about the antelope, elk and mule deer hunting she had done with her dad over the years. “I’m daddy’s little hunting buddy,” she said happily and without a trace of the exasperation teenagers usually display when talking about their parents.

And a hardcore hunting buddy at that.

In her spare time she calls in coyotes—using only her mouth—and shoots them off the back porch of her house. One of us.

After a while she said she had to get back to her other tables and wished us luck this fall. We did the same. I hope she bags the 31-inch mule deer of her dreams come November.

John Snow


Richard Paradis


The ages of the members of my hunting group are 83, 79, 66, 66, 64, 64, 50, 44 and 40. The 44 and 40 aged members are the two sons of one of the 66 year olds. The 40 year old guy has one son that he hopes will be a hunter. There will be no other hunter offspring from this group.

I grew up in a hunting family in western Maine and I have one niece and one nephew that still hunt but no other family members that do. At one time I could count nearly two dozen family members that hunted seriously.

I attend many outdoors activities and the people I see are by and large my age - 64. I was at Kittery Trading Post two weeks ago to see Maine Guide Hal Blood give a seminar on hunting Big Woods Bucks. There were about 40 people in the audience and maybe one less than 50 years of age.


The vast majority of people I know today just don't have the time and/or money to go hunting.

If you have kids, your day is something like, get up, get the kids ready, drop them off @ the sitters, go to work, pick up the kids, go home, make dinner, eat, get homework done, get the kids to bed and start the next day all over again.

Weekends consist of, errands and chores that weren't done during the week, activities for the kids, trying to carve out time for your spouse and maybe getting in a bit of relaxation.

That's the adults schedule. Today, the vast majority of kids (from birth) are out of the house by 7:00am, off to the sitters, then to school, back to the sitters, and then finally home. Most kids are gone from home for 11 to 12 hours a day from BIRTH.

Parents tend to overcompensate for this by scheduling as many "guilt" activites to spend time with Johnny and Janie (squeezed between cleaning, cutting grass, grocery shopping,etc...), because they hardly see them during the week.

Lump this situation together with limited availability for places TO HUNT (without costing a fortune and having to drive 45 minutes each way) and you wonder why hunting is slowly dying?


I don't have any children but my hunting partner, by the way he is 15 years younger than me (I'm 58) at 43, has two daughters. Both like to go dove hunting with us and both have expressed interest in deer hunting but right now they have so many other activities that weekend free time is at a premium. I have a couple of nephews and grand nephews that are in another state and their parents have not gotten them interested in hunting but they sure enjoy going fishing. I try when I can to get them interested in shooting thinking that may lead to them trying hunting but, unfortunately, I'm not there enough to see if any "progress" is being made.


I have to say that my outlook is akin to that in the article. I am 22, and many of my friends are avid hunters. Those of us who have been hunting for a while are in the process of recruiting those of our friends who have yet to take the plunge. I am hopeful for the future of hunting! I think that my generation of hunters will be better stewards for the environment and conservation. I also feel that much of my generation is very aware politically and will make great strides in lobbying against gun legislation, hunting bans, and the waste of wildlife culled in state parks, etc. However, we would not be where we are today if it were not for the generations before us who ushered us into the time honored tradition. If it's important, there is always time for it and you can guarantee that it will always be worth it! It is incumbent on all hunters to ensure that the sport never dies.

Bryce Clevenger

Can I ever relate to the pace for raising kids these days. Both my kids, a boy and girl, went to the range young. My son stuck with it and we hunt every season together. He loaded his own 20 ga shells as kid and went on his grandfather's last hunt with him. Now he uses the old man's gun by choice. That young man is the only guy I allow behind w/ a gun. My plan was not to raise a hunting partner but I sure got lucky.
The cost of guns, ammo, tags, and a day in the field is pretty high when your kids are college students. I agree w/ much of what has been written above. But there has not been a day outdoors or a day afield that has been a waste for either youngster and it made them better adults.


I've become a bit disillusioned. Seems that hunting used to be going to some public forest or range land, stalking, and taking game; an outdoor adventure. Now, with less hunters than 30 years ago it seems it can only be done with a guide. Go west of the Mississippi and a private, non guided hunt on public land is nearly impossible. Can it still be done?