Tuttle, Elusive Hunter - Why Hunting Is on the Wane in...

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Why Hunting Is on the Wane in America It's a way of life that dates to the dawn of the nation. But hunting is on the wane in America. A sportsman's lament. By Steve Tuttle Newsweek Dec. 4, 2006 issue - I remember the first time i ever killed something. It was a rabbit, and I was about 12 years old. I put my gun to my shoulder and aimed—taking care to lead the target—and pulled the trigger. The animal seemed to tumble end over end in slow motion. I ran up to him excitedly and he looked up at me, shaking and still alive and making a little whimpering sound. My father reached down, picked up the rabbit by its hind legs, and gave him a karate chop on the back of the neck, killing him instantly. He looked up at me and said, "Good shot, boy!" and handed me the rabbit. I was proud and devastated all at once. The rabbit felt warm in my hand, and I was trying really hard to fight back tears. The other men in the hunting party came over and slapped me on the back. Little did they know that I would have given anything to bring that rabbit back to life. I would feel sad about it for weeks. I went on to shoot a lot more game over the years, but none ever had the same emotional impact, nor did I ever get teary-eyed at the moment of the kill. In my culture, in the rural America of western Virginia, that was the day I began to change from boy to man. There aren't that many boys today who grew up the way I did—kids who are willing to put down their Gameboys, pick up a rifle and head out into the field. Hunting in America has entered a long twilight. The number of license holders—roughly 15 million through 2004—has actually shrunk by about 2 million people since 1982, when the population was 230 million (versus 300 million today). Since 1990, the number of license holders in Massachusetts has dropped by 50,000, or 40 percent; in California since 1980 the number has fallen by almost half, from 540,000 to 300,000. In Michigan, there were 1.2 million licensed hunters in 1992—but fewer than 850,000 in 2004. Hunters are aging: about seven in 10 are older than 35 (in 1980, only four in 10 were over 35). The reasons for hunting's decline are pretty basic: fewer fields and streams and hills full of game to hunt (Census data show that urban America more than doubled in acreage from 1960 to 1990); more restrictions and lawsuits; more videogames and diversions to keep junior (and his dad) on the couch. Many people are not sorry to see the hunters go. Groups like PETA, the Fund for Animals and
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Tuttle, Elusive Hunter - Why Hunting Is on the Wane in...

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