posted on May 14, 2015 19:29
In the 1980s, there wasn’t any opportunity for youths to have special or devoted weekends for just them to hunt pheasants, as well as other animals. If they wanted to go out hunting, then they would have to accompany their parents out into the field.
Most of the activities for youths in the 1980s were BB gun shooting events, planting trees or coloring contests. In effect, the next generation of hunters were being marginalized and discouraged. This has recently shown in hunter numbers. Over the past 10 years, the number of hunters has been dwindling while the average hunter age has increased.
At the same time as this, more people were leaving rural areas in North Dakota to live in urban centers. Some settlements would literally half. Some villages and towns have now grown back to the size they were in the previous decades.
These changes have also meant that some children have kept themselves indoors and away from high quality activities.
Therefore, to confront the challenges in recruiting new young hunters and retain them for the future, states are now pursuing youth opportunities. The hope is that more children will now spend greater amounts of time outside and revitalize a sport that is important to local and national economies, not to mention the conservation of the natural habitat that is loved by so many.
While there are special youth seasons and licenses, North Dakota has also seen a growth in the number of organizations offering youth wildlife programs. These are not just the traditional rod and gun clubs. They also include nonprofit organizations.
These groups are being encouraged to apply for the Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program. This State Game and Fish Department program offers a grant of up to £3000 to help develop the next generation of hunters. So far, there are 40 clubs and organizations who are taking advantage of the grant.
Funds can be used to help cover expenses, promotional activities and safety equipment.
Have you been involved in encouraging the next generation? Will you be applying for a grant at your club?
Let us know in the comments below.