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Scott M

Recruiting New Anglers and Hunters

10 posts in this topic

My wife got a postcard from the DNR and Angler's legacy a few weeks back urging her to purchase a fishing license. Apparently they were sent to people who had bought one in 2006 but not in 2007. The funny thing is she DID have a license in 2007, so they wasted the postcard postage in sending it to her.

Anyways, here's a story that opens an interesting discussion. Should the State and/or DNR be recruiting and advertising for new anglers and hunters?

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Minnesota fighting to hook an elusive catch: New anglers

By RICHARD MERYHEW, Star Tribune

May 10, 2008

Blame it on the computers and video games. Or the traveling youth sports leagues. Or the graying of the baby boomers.

Or maybe the high-priced boats and high-tech gadgets some people think are required to catch that trophy fish.

Whatever the reasons, when it comes time to fish, a steadily shrinking share of Minnesotans is choosing to buy a license and cast a line.

Now, in an effort to lure more anglers to the rivers and lakes, the state Department of Natural Resources is pulling out the stops. In the month leading up to this weekend's season opener, it launched an ambitious advertising campaign to bring people back to the sport.

"Nationally, there's a growing concern that everyone, especially kids, are increasingly disconnected with nature," said Jenifer Matthees, coordinator for the DNR's angler retention project.

"Anecdotally, we feel everybody is overscheduled. People maybe realize they want more time with their kids, and maybe this is one of the ways of doing that."

The ad blitz, which combines direct mail, electronic billboard and radio advertising with other promotional efforts, is part of a three-year effort by the DNR to address the national trend of declining participation in outdoor activities.

The DNR started its promotional campaign last year with billboards and mail ads. This spring, it added radio spots and several promotions with the St. Paul Saints baseball team. Last month, it mailed 40,000 postcards to anglers who bought licenses in previous years but didn't buy one for 2007, encouraging them to buy a license in time for the season opener. Another 5,000 postcards were sent to anglers who bought licenses a year ago. Another mailing will follow later this month.

This week, the DNR used electronic billboards to count down the days until today's opener.

"We're trying to create more excitement around the fishing opener," said C.B. Bylander, an outreach chief for the DNR's Fish and Wildlife Division. "We are trying to get a little buzz."

Bylander said that compared with the rest of the country, Minnesota still fares well in retaining its licensed anglers.

While the number of people nationwide who fish dropped from 35 million to 30 million between 1996 and 2006, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota's numbers have held steady at about 1.2 million for the past two decades.

But measured against the state's growing population, the percentage of anglers in Minnesota has dropped from 39 percent in 1988 to 29 percent in 2006. Perhaps most worrying, the biggest dropoff has been seen among the young, in the 16- to 44-year-old age group.

Over the years, the baby-boom generation has "fueled so much of the license-buying and fishing," Bylander said. Ten years from now, that won't be the case.

Fees generated by licenses and taxes on equipment help fund fish and wildlife conservation efforts. Fewer anglers means fewer licenses, which in turn means less income for natural resource management. Revenue generated by fishing licenses only and federal taxes on fishing equipment totaled $32 million in 2007, according to the DNR.

"We're just not recruiting youth in the numbers that we did in the past," Bylander said. "As the boomers head out, potentially down the road, there could be far fewer fishermen."

Less leisure time

Tim Kelly, a DNR research analyst, said researchers don't know for certain why fewer young people are fishing, in part because nobody tracked the issue 10 or 20 years ago.

But he said the national trend makes it easy to speculate.

TVs. Home gaming systems. Computers. Home theaters. Game Boys. "All those electronic things are cutting into leisure time," Kelly said.

Billy Dougherty, whose family has run a houseboat business on Rainy Lake near International Falls for the past 30 years, sees it, too.

"We get the national park visitor, the family reunion visitor and people coming up on a fishing trip," he said. "And what we're not seeing are those 18- to 35-year-old people. They just don't seem to be out there like they used to.

"Up in the northland here, a lot of kids fish. But your urban person coming here, that's dropping."

Dougherty said organized youth sports programs, with their lengthy schedules and constant travel, are a big reason for the falloff.

"Everybody's chasing that college scholarship for whatever they think might be out there," he said. "And the kids don't get the time to fish.

"I have kids who work for me, and on certain weekends they have to be gone for tryouts for this team and tryouts for that team in the summertime. We have bantam hockey teams up here that play 60 games a year. It's become big business."

Although anglers don't need much money to get started, Bylander said, some may be discouraged by the price of boats, equipment and gear.

"In the old days, things were a little more low-budget," Bylander said. "But now there's more technology, more graphs, bigger boats. People see the bar for getting in is a little higher."

Ivan Berandt, a longtime fishing guide on Lake Mille Lacs, said some are making the sport "too scientific."

"People are losing the fun. ... It's not about catching the most fish. It's not being the best. It's just you being out there fishing."

Dougherty believes most kids, if given the opportunity, will still get hooked on fishing.

"Once you get 'em there, it's a whole different world," he said. "On Rainy [Lake], with the national park, it's undeveloped. I get kids up here who say 'I didn't know something like this even existed.'

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i dont know if i want the DNR in the recruiting business. promoting, yes, but getting kids to hunt and fish is either the parents' job or private clubs. I myself dont hunt except for an occasional bird hunt so my kids grew up doing more fishing. with food prices, i may not only have to take up hunting but poaching

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Being the parents job to teach them might be a big part of the decline.There are alot of single parent households nowadays.

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While I feel the DNR should promote everything outdoors, I'm not so sure they should be in the recruiting business.

My wife, 3 kids (adult and almost adult) and myself sat down yesterday and watched a bunch of old home movies. While we were all laughing our butts off we also all realized the same thing, times have changed. Parents are THE major player when it comes to instilling thoughts, opinions, attitudes, and ways of life in kids.

When I was a small boy we pretty much had no money. Fast forward to today and I still pretty much have no money. What is different is mom and dad are both working, longer hours, on call, expected to devote more time to their jobs, family has taken a back seat. It's sad, really. My folks took the family on adventures that I'll never forget. I try to do the same. Kids need exposure to real life at a young age. While it's more difficult, it still needs to be done.

My dad didn't hunt or fish, but that didn't stop him from letting me hunt, fish, and set a trap line. I didn't have a teacher, I learned most of it all on my own sitting on the shore of Island lake with a cane pole and a bucket of worms I dug up. Do I have hard feelings? No way. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything in the world with the exception of it would have been cool to have pops sitting next to me. He took my brother and I drag racing every chance he could. I even got to sit in Don Prudhommes funny car and turned a few wrenches on Tom Hoovers car. Could a kid do that today??? No way. I offer to take my family hunting and fishing every time I go. Sometimes they want to, many times they don't. I can only hope that when my boys are no longer teens and they are young adult men they will take me up on the offer to go more often. Maybe even call up the old man and say,"Hey dad, I'm going fishing. Want to tag along?" RIght here, right now however, they know that they are always welcome to join in on the fun.

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been hearing alot of grouse drumming this year. maybe higher bird numbers will get a few more teens to hit the woods. i enjoy the birds. never got into deer, ducks, turkeys, pheasant, ect ect

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Fact: 80% of the states population live in the metro.

I live in Shakopee and would love to get out fishing more with my girls. But do you really think I'm going on Prior on a weekend? Or the little lake in town that has parking for about 7 rigs. I'm blessed my parents have a cabin up north otherwise I would seriously have to say screw it and move out of the metro. Now if you could find me a $28 an hour job in the northland or outstate, I would be there in a heartbeat.

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That's why those of us with access to the outdoors need to get kids out. I have done kid's fishing classes and taken kids out fishing which is a ton of fun. I'd like to do more and there are more opportunities and I need to do more of that sort of stuff.

Just offer to take a kid along next time you head out and take their parent with so they can experience it too. Parents are the number one influence and I do think it's the DNR's job to promote and market the outdoors. License sales pay for the management we all benefit from and while sportsmen's groups, clubs and organizations do a lot, they can't do it all and they can't reach everybody. The DNR has access to people in ways that these groups don't.

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I applaud any method used to recruit and promote outdoor activities for the youth in our state. As a child I came from a poor family with 2 working parents, and this was in the 50's where it was almost unheard of for a mother to work. My father was the type of man who thought little girls should stay home and play with their dolls. He took my older brother fishing but not me, and flew the coop when I was 10 so most of my youth fishing was done at the Mississippi river cause it was closest. I wish that there had been more clubs and organizations at the time that I could have enjoyed the outdoors more. To us camping was pitching the proverbial home made tent in the backyard. I probably wouldn't be so touchy about this, but I inherited my fathers gene's where I love to go fishing, doesn't bother me to get dirt under my nails, would rather be outdoors exploring the woods than baking cookies. I am afraid that if kids aren't offered the opportunity to love the outdoors that they will lose respect for it and it inhabitants and eventually it will all end up as pavement.

Should have mentioned, I grew up in North Mpls, where the nearest thing to nature was Eloise Butler flower gardens, Wirth lake, and Mississippi river which my mother really frowned on because of all the bad things that can happen to a girl. Snuck down there anyways...........never was too bright as a kid, not even sure about now smile

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Just took my daughter out for her first opener. The excitement she experieinced was awesome to watch. She didnt complain about the cold or the slow action. Best fishing partner I ever had.

Barb Like you my father flew the coup and i grew up fishing the Mississippii below Blandin. Luckly I had an older brother to help me learn to fish. Now I get to help another generation learn.

I suggest if you know kids who are interested in the oputdoors share with them your hunting and fishing mags. Lots of info for new comers and they will influence them into thinking the outdoors is a far better place than infront of a screen.

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chaisineyes, It's all about priorities. I wouldn't move to the metro for twice that.

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