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In 2006 and 2007, when pheasant harvests and hunting numbers were at their highest, the Minnesota state sold 129,000 pheasant stamps. By 2013, the number of hunters had decreased by 40% with only 78,000 stamps sold.

Yet, despite the major decrease in the numbers of hunters, there is still one group who are attending hunting year-on-year: the over 55’s. Since 2006, the number of pheasant hunters over 55 has decreased only 7.5%, the slowest decline of any age group.

In comparison, the number of hunters buying stamps between 18 and 24 years old has dropped by 49% and there has been a 44% decrease in hunting stamps bought by hunters between 25 and 40. The largest hunting group, those aged between 40 and 55, also saw a significant drop with 46% fewer hunters.

State officials are unsure whether the poor economy has contributed to the decline in hunter numbers. However, there are other hunting sports that have seen no decrease and some, like deer hunting, have increased during the same period.

Wildlife and conservation officials have blamed the continuous decline in pheasant populations for the recent poor hunter turnouts. Though it does appear that older hunters are continuing to hunt; despite the pressures on the bird’s populations.

The vice-president of marketing for Pheasants Forever, Bob St. Pierre, isn’t surprised by these statistics. He claims that hunting is more of a tradition for older hunters. He also adds that it is this age group that have more time and resources to own a trained hunting dog, which makes it more compelling to go hunting.

St. Pierre also stated “If you’re 25 and living in an apartment with no dog and bird numbers are down, it’s easier to find something else to do.’’

Another problem highlighted is the lack of good quality habitat for hunting and pheasants. When CRP enrolment was at his highest in 2007, hunters recorded their highest harvest. Since then, land has been lost and pheasant harvests have decreased.

Are you a hunter over 55? Why do you still go hunting?

Let us know in the comments below.


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