I find it fascinating, the number of new hunters, who have been reaching out to myself and other old-timers I know, looking for advice on how to hunt. These days fewer and fewer of these new hunters are entering the sport for the “thrill of the hunt” or to begin collecting trophies from the wild. But rather, they’re seeking to place a wedge between themselves and their family’s hunger. Already, store shelves are far less stocked than we’ve become accustomed to and the meat markets are rationing their supplies. Should the forecasted meat shortages continue, people are seeking wild game to ensure their freezers don’t run empty.
With some U.S. meat processors halting operations, companies have been issuing warnings of shortages, a number of Americans are turning to the old ways of hunting for food. Nationwide, Game and fish agencies have reported an increase in either hunting license sales, permit applications, or both this spring. Some states saw as high as a 28% jump in turkey license sales during the first week of the season. Though part of that is due to quarantines and job closures giving hunters more time to get out into the woods. Firearm manufacturers have reported amazing sales increases, and the FBI carried out 3.74 million background checks in March alone; a record for any month.
My own experiences this past Spring Gobbler Season, after several out of state hunters had to cancel their trips due to travel bans, local hunters flocked in to fill those open dates, most of them first-time hunters. I had a grand time teaching them basic woodsmanship, hunt etiquette and demonstrating how I put the skills together to afford them success on their first hunts. And each of them were serious students concerned about our local food supply and supplementing their larder with wild game. We enjoyed many conversations about the old ways of not only hunting, but butchering and long-term storage of the meat; something I’ll talk about more in future columns.
I had a chat recently with Dan Leon, of Golddiggers and Gunslingers of Inverness, and asked if he’s seen an upswing in hunting related purchases locally.
“Most of our sales are new gun buyers seeking home defense weapons, but we’re getting a lot of hunting caliber ammunition sales, which may help explain the rise in license sales,” he tells me. “It looks like people who’ve tried it or who had given up the sport are dusting off the old hunting rifles and updating their supplies, just in case they do need to return to the hunt.”
With the recent game management practices enacted by our Florida Wildlife Commission within the last year, the wildlife will not suffer from a higher number of hunters in the field. Adding to that, the opening of new lands to hunters ensures that there are many opportunities for all of us to take advantage of Mother Nature’s bounty. Anybody seeking advice or other help in getting started on the hunt, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] God bless and good hunting!