February 16th, 2010

WSJ Feature: Will Today's Kids Be Tomorrow's Hunters?

Apparently, America’s young folks are spending too much time playing video games, and not enough time in the outdoors. This has outfitters and hunting guides worried about the future of their businesses. Hunting guides are serving an aging clientele, mostly 50 years and up. Who will replace the gray-haired hunters in a few decades? In an article entitled The Outfitters’ Lament: Too Few Kids With Guns, the Wall Street Journal website looked at the problem of “couch potato” kids, who are unlikely to become outdoorsmen when they grow up.

We’ve got a whole generation of kids who have little or no wilderness experience, and little time spent hiking, camping, fishing, or shooting. The WSJ suggests these kids, reared on video games, may never learn to appreciate the outdoors. “Most kids wouldn’t know a deer from a dog,” said Jim Paine of Illinois Trophy Bowhunters, an outfitter in west central Illinois. “It’s sad.”

The WSJ identifies many causes for the decline in outdoor activities by America’s kids. First, as you might expect, the outfitters blame video games. Video games actually cause changes in the brain and remove the desire to explore the “real world.” Second, increased urbanization means that most kids grow up in a concrete jungle, without ready access to wild places. Third, with the increase in the divorce rate, too many kids are effectively “fatherless” most of the time. A harried single Mom isn’t likely to take her kids hunting. Said one fishing guide: “A 10-year-old kid can go out and play baseball without his dad, but they can’t go hunting or fishing.” Lastly, hunting in particular has declined because firearms are stigmatized more than ever before. The WSJ observed: “In the 1950s, nearly every high school in New York City had a shooting team. Today, if you brought a gun to school you’d be expelled.”