After the first week of the three week 2011 spring turkey season in Missouri, hunters took more than 18,000 bearded birds.

After the first week of the three week 2011 spring turkey season in Missouri, hunters took more than 18,000 bearded birds.

Despite the fact that more than 80 percent of Americans approve of hunting, the number of hunters is not growing across the country.

A survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed 40 percent of Americans strongly approved of hunting and 33 percent moderately approved while 22 percent disapproved. A big 81 percent believed hunting should remain legal, another survey, only three percent supported the tactics of animal rights extremist groups.

Despite these statistics, hunters are an endangered species. Unlike other forms of outdoor recreation, the numbers of hunters is far from growing and all across the United States anti hunting initiatives are appearing on ballots. Hunting is being challenged in legislative proposals and in the courts and there seems to be as many losses as there are victories. Since less than five percent of the public belongs to one or more animal right groups and there are five million more who buy hunting permits rather than memberships in animal right groups, hunters must be wondering why they are so vulnerable.

A STEREOTYPED

MINORITY

The Fish and Wildlife survey provided an insight into the Achilles Heel of hunting. More than 65 percent of the people surveyed sad they believe “a lot” of hunters broke hunting laws and practiced unsafe behavior, such as drinking to excess and firing guns recklessly.

The poll shows the non-hunting majority not having a problem with hunting, but they do have one instead with hunters. If hunting is going to survive, this negative stereotype has to be changed.

Hunters are a minority group. The millions of people who buy hunting permits every year represent less than five percent of the population and less than 10 percent of those 16  or older.

WON’T GO OUTSIDE

The average person today lives in a large metropolitan area, a city or a suburb, and has little direct contact with nature except an occasional visit to a park, sightings of squirrels, birds and looking at trees out of a window. For most people, an increasing percentage of time indoors and more of that time is spent working. Studies have shown that the “average person” now spends more than 80 percent of their time indoors.

The new sub species of humans, Homo Sapiens Indoorsis, have lost their senses. They rely heavily on media “experts” to keep them abreast of daily events, and even defining reality at large. In terms of time, the most popular sense organ is a television. In the average home, the TV set is on 10 or more hours a day. This means people watch about an hour and a half of commercials each day.

TV EXPOSURE

Except for the outdoor shows that are often aired early in the morning or on weekends, TV programming pertaining to hunting is sparse, sometimes featuring celebrities ( which supports the image of hunters as heroes). The viewers, for the most part, are probably those who already hunt and fish. The people who must be reached are those who have not fired a gun, sat in a duck blind mesmerized by a flight of ducks or thrilled at taking a first buck or gobbler.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The rest of this column will be continued next Saturday.