Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"The End of Hunting?" by Christina Larson:

If Americans don't hunt in the numbers that they used to, hunting goods stores aren't in danger of going out of business just yet. Hunting and fishing remain major national pastimes: In 2001, 13 million Americans headed out to hunt and 34 million to fish. The total number of "sportsmen"--men and women who hunt or fish--is 38 million today, nearly one in five Americans.

But while that's a crowd, it's a shrinking one. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who hunt or fish has tumbled from 26 to 18 percent; the absolute number of sportsmen has fallen from 50 million to 38 million. The decline is related to the ripple effects of suburbanization, the gradual century-long movement of Americans from farms to cities and suburbs. Thirty years ago, many suburban residents still had relatives who lived in the country, relatives who would welcome them back to the farm to hunt on fall weekends. Now those relatives are largely gone--or suburban dwellers themselves. Today, more than two out of three sportsmen live in metropolitan areas, where their children grow up less familiar with firearms, removed from daily contact with blood and dirt, and often less comfortable with the pursuit of game as sport. Just as successive generations of immigrant families lose touch with the language and customs of the old country, the descendants of rural America simply don't have the same strong cultural attachment to the land and to hunting.

6:04 PM