It seems like the world around us is in a constant state of change, these are three things about hunting in the past that just aren’t true anymore.
Times change, and in the last few decades, we’ve undergone more advanced technological changes than any generation before us. This how those changes have affected one of our favorite pastimes: hunting.
1. Where did the public land go?
The hot topic with many hunters these days is hunting on public land. It seems that there is just not as much public land available as there used to be. What is available, often has a hunter every few hundred yards. This is baffling to me, as most statistics these days point to a declining number of hunters. In Texas, there seems to be a growing number of hunters needing a place to hunt.
When hunting public land during deer season, it is hard to find a place to park let alone a tree to put a stand. A friend of mine took his son deer hunting and getting out of the truck his son accidentally slammed the door. Before he could he apologize, they heard a shot ring out. Lonnie scanned the area with his headlamp and seen four hunters sitting in trees within 100 yards of each other. They got back in the truck and left.
30 years ago this was not the case. My dad and I could dove hunt all day and maybe run into a single group of hunters. Even then we probably knew who they were. The public land we hunted around Oologah Lake in northeast Oklahoma was used primarily by hunters from surrounding communities. We were either related, knew each other, or knew of each other. Today more hunters are driving from further away to hunt less and less public land.
2. There are those who hunt, and then there are those who are hunters.
Even though we all are on the same team, there are hunters who enjoy hunting a couple of weekends a year, and then there are those who are hunting every day they can. We are all against gun control, are all for deer steak and gravy, and all look forward to opening day. We often work together, play together, and in some cases are related to each other, but we do seem to have different priorities.
Around 30 years ago, much more of the population was rural and or living in smaller towns. The job market and other circumstances have caused much of that population to move the suburbs. Once in the suburbs, priorities change and fewer of our neighbors enjoy hunting. You get involved in your job, your community, your kid’s school, and there is just less time to hunt.
Let’s face it, the suburbs have something going on every weekend, and it’s hard to convince the family you’re not doing any of that during hunting season. I like to think of those in this part of the hunting community as those who like to hunt, but not necessarily hunters.
There are still those dedicated souls that break all the rules to go hunting. I don’t want to imply that they live only in rural areas or small towns. Many live in the suburbs, but all are still in the woods every possible second. They make every excuse known to man to get out of work; they should be mowing their yard, and should be washing their car, but they just have to be in the woods hunting. Hunting is a way of life for them, and I think of those in this part of the hunting community as hunters. There are simply fewer “hunters” than there were 30 years ago.
3. Hunting used to be as simple as a flannel shirt, good boots, and your father’s shotgun.
30 years ago, I would throw on a flannel shirt, lace up my boots, grab dad’s shotgun and be gone all day hunting quail. I often think of that today as I prepare for a weekend hunting trip by loading 15 bins of hunting gear, a grocery store, five guns, two bows, a trailer full of ammo, 16 ice chests, and last but not least, my dog.
Sometimes I think my dog would prefer just to trail along behind the truck than ride squeezed between the 15 bins. The thing is every year I add to the list of gadgets I have to take. My hunting partner has a spreadsheet he keeps so he doesn’t forget anything. I probably should have one too because there is always something I forget.
Gone are the days of simply hunting. Back in the day, all I needed was a pocket knife, shotgun, and vest full of shells. To be honest, that is all it takes today. Like so many, I convince myself that the reason I don’t get my limit is that I need a new gadget. In reality, I should spend more time shooting skeet and scouting an area for birds, than buying more gadgets.
Don’t get me wrong, I love researching which new gadget is best, bragging on my new gadget, and blaming it for missing an easy shot. However I do miss the days when public hunting was good, hunting was my way of life, and hunting was simple.