Washington State, like other states across the country, has a problem with fishermen: There aren’t enough of them. Fewer fishermen means fewer adults are teaching young men to fish. That means declining licensing sales and dwindling revenue for the state’s wildlife management and conservation agencies. Therefore, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking a number of measures, including coordinating the recently directed Turkey Spring Camp, to boost participation and license sales.
Dave Whipple, the department’s director of hunter education, told 88.5 KNKX Seattle, “We’re losing hunters. Currently, the department is developing a recruiting, retention and reactivation plan for hunters and fishermen to address this decline in participation.”
According to Wildlife for All, based on US Fish and Wildlife Service records of annual hunting license sales and US Census Bureau data, the number of hunters in the US has declined from 16.7 to 15.2 million over the past four decades. But the US population has grown by 44 percent since then. So, while hunters represented 7.2 percent of the population in 1982, they now account for only 4.6 percent.
But the percentage of fishermen licensed in a given state ranges widely, from 24 percent in South Dakota to 0.7 percent in California. Washington ranks 41st with 2.3 percent. States with lower license sales face large deficits in Wildlife Department budgets, in part because federal funding from the Pittman-Robertson Act apportions taxes on sales of sporting ammunition and weapons to states based on the number of hunting licenses sold in each particular state.
Rick Brasil, 68, president and mentor of First Hunt, said he’s working to recruit young hunters to replace his generation. He told 88.5 KNKX, “There is a concern, nationwide, that in 10 years in some states there won’t be enough licensing sales because the average hunter – like me – is in his 60s. In 10 years, they’ll be in Some are in their 70s or some are in their 80s, and they won’t buy licenses anymore.”
So, the Evergreen State is investing its dwindling resources in recruiting volunteer guides like Brazell to share their fishing wisdom with new anglers. So far, 34 new recruits have participated in protection and hunting workshops and have directed hunting operations this spring. And one 16-year-old trainee, Ethan Deong, appears to be on board. After chasing the mentorship for the first time, he said, “Knowing that I can hunt my own food and can cook it myself is something I enjoy.”
read the following: How to make a new hunter