by Ben Sobieck, online editor
Pennsylvania’s deer hunting reputation is being threatened by hunters who "drift" in and out of the sport.
Lancaster Online reports that roughly 150,000 hunters do not hunt consecutive seasons. That’s 16 percent of its hunting population. For a state with upwards of 1 million hunters (counting deer and other game), that churning effect is a difficult issue to solve for state wildlife officials.
The Lancaster Online article indicates a primary reason for the exodus: a lack of game which may or may not be deer.
States with similar problems, such as Michigan, passed legislation to make hunting mentorships easier.
Although the focus is often on getting children into the outdoors, D&DH‘s own observations indicate hunters go in and out of the sport depending on demographics. Even those who grew up in outdoors families, for example, tend to lose interest during the teen years into their 20s. If they return to hunting more aggressively, it’s often after settling down – and only if they have access, the perennial thorn in the side of hunting.
These generalizations don’t mean the solutions can be painted with just as broad a brush. No state wildlife program has found the magic bullet.
In the Lancaster Online article, Pennsylvania Game Commissioner President Ron Weaner said he had more questions than answers.
"I am still interested in retaining and recruiting hunters, and think it is very important. The simple fact is that some people will not hunt year after year no matter what we do."
It’s unlikely deer hunting will go away for good in Pennsylvania. If ranked as a standing army, Pennsylvania’s 750,000 deer hunters would outnumber South Korea’s active military personnel. That’s not an army that likely to hang up the white flag any time soon.