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2009-08-20 digital edition

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2009-08-20 / Community News

The State of Hunting

Texas has always been a state that was known for good hunting, whether it is deer, waterfowl, or quail. Previous surveys show some very interesting and important facts about hunters and hunting in Texas.

Most probably think that hunting is mainly for rural folks, while many rural folks do hunt, over 70% of the hunters in Texas now reside in metropolitan areas. Residents of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, San Antonio, Austin and San Marcos account for 47% of the hunters in Texas. These same urban areas account for 59% of the population. Eighty five percent of hunters fall into the classification of white / non-Hispanic (this same group comprises 53% of the population) and 93% of hunters are males. According to a 2001 survey, hunting is one of the least participated in outdoor recreational activities among the general population of Texas.

As for types of hunting participation, 77% of surveyed hunters hunted whitetailed deer, 38% hunted dove, 1% rabbits, 4% squirrel, and 5% Rio Grande turkey. Frequency of hunting varied among hunting type. While just a small percentage hunted squirrel and turkey, the individuals were committed. Both squirrel and RG turkey hunters averaged 20 days a year hunting while whitetailed deer hunters averaged 15. Surprisingly, feral hog hunters averaged 19 days a field. Additionally, 87% of hunters used private lands and 21% had hunted on Texas Parks and Wildlife properties such as Wildlife Management Areas or dove lease areas.

The 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation which is conducted periodically by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows just how important hunting is to the Texas economy. Even though hunting may be one of the least participated outdoor recreation activities among the general population, it is a tremendous business. The survey (which is a snapshot of 2006 only) indicated that Texas had 1.1 million hunters and spent over 14 million days hunting. Total expenditures were over 2.2 billion dollars.

Even though both of these surveys show some interesting numbers and the importance of hunting to Texas, there are concerns about the future of hunting in Texas. As previously stated, 85% of the hunters are white and 93% of the hunters are males. And the average age of hunters is gradually increasing to about 45 years of age. So what is the worry? The answer is recruitment and retention. It seems that the youth of today are not as involved in hunting as they were 20-30 years ago. This can probably be blamed on many different issues, not just one. Some issues include the disconnect between youth and access to property (most of us remember as kids going to grandparents farms, etc, for many this is no longer the case). Cost may be an issue, many folks feel that cost have gotten out of reach and can no longer participate. Other activities come into play, today's youth (4 - 18 years) can participate in just about any sport or function throughout the year, thus limiting time for hunting.

What is the solution? Once again there is not just one. Some future articles will address possible solutions. Texas Parks and Wildlife has created special youth seasons for various species, chance are youth seasons will be expanded in the future to hopefully increase opportunity. Additionally, TPWD owns and leases property for different types of hunting. Whether it is drawn hunts for deer or dove hunting on leased property. Hopefully this will ease some of the burdens of 'not enough property or no access'. And lastly, it is up to you as a hunter to recruit and mentor the next generation of hunters. Take heed to the saying, "if you don't use it, you will loose it."

If you would like to contact your local biologist, see our website at; http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ wildlifebiologist.

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