Can Mentored Hunts Save Tradition

Hunting is a part of human existence, love it or hate it. It’s what reminds humans that they’re still a part of the food chain, connects them to their roots, and for many, puts food on the table. In the Corvallis area, hunting is important enough to have a website dedicated to it.  

Despite this, hunting is becoming an endangered sport. Between increased urbanization, higher hunting license costs, and an aging group of enthusiasts, state agencies across the country are worried for the future of both hunting and preservation. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to some, many of the most impactful and directly beneficial things that Oregon, as a state, does for its environment come straight from hunters. License fees for hunters and anglers alike pay for the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Program, the Wildlife Access and Habitat Program, and the Fish Screening Program, among others. 

Yet many agencies, including Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), are showing increased concern. Only 7.8% of Oregonians possess paid hunting licenses, according to Stacker. In comparison to states like South Dakota and Wyoming, with 24.1% and 22.7% respectively, those license numbers are weak. 

Many hope that mentored hunts may help bring back a bit of interest in Oregonian youth and young adults, most of whom have never gone on a hunt. Mentored hunts partner an experienced hunter with someone eager to learn, and help bring attention to the needs of the environment that many younger hunters simply don’t know.  

A KLCC article by Courtney Flatt shows exactly what the future of hunting, mentored or otherwise, will look like in a decade.  

“There’s a concern, nationwide, within ten years in some states there won’t be enough license sales because the average age of the hunter is – such as myself – in their 60s,” First Hunt Foundation president Rick Brazell told Flatt, “In ten years, they’ll be in their 70s or some in their 80s, and they won’t be buying licenses any more.” 

Hunting also helps our communities. In an article by North Carolina College of Natural Resources, they say that when deer populations become too high in urban or residential areas, the likelihood of vehicle collisions with animals increases. Hunting helps control overpopulation of wildlife. 

For both young and old hunters alike, mentored hunts provide the opportunity to educate the next generation on the values of hunting. And the hope remains that, with time, the sport will pick back up again even as Oregon raises the cost of access to its wildlife areas for visitors. 

By Ethan Hauck