BRAD DOKKEN: Reasons for hunting mirror results from national surveySpending time outdoors, having fun with friends and family outrank the taking of game
By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald
Like most people, I suspect, I’ve long been a fan of polls and surveys, and the results from a recent survey conducted by the online polling group HunterSurvey.com caught my attention this week.
As part of the survey, the pollsters asked people why they like to hunt. Respondents could check any or all of seven reasons that reflected their motivations.
According to the survey results, none of the reasons stood out above the rest, but the options and answers were as follows:
• Like to spend time outdoors: 92 percent.
• Enjoy seeing wildlife: 87 percent.
• Enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors: 87 percent.
• Enjoy the challenge: 80 percent.
• Like to spend time with friends and family who hunt: 74 percent.
• Like providing food for family and friends: 70 percent.
• Other: 9 percent.
In a news release, Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, the polling group that designed the survey, said the results match research from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“From spending time with family and friends outdoors to the peace and solitude of being alone in nature, hunting is much more than taking game,” Southwick said. “Future efforts to increase hunting, or to successfully promote hunting-related products and services, must emphasize fun, social interactions and the total outdoor experience hunting provides.”
When it comes to the outdoors, I’ve always identified myself as a fisherman more than a hunter. Waterfowl hunting never did it for me, mostly because I’ve never had much success at it. I’m not a very good wing shooter and I definitely don’t like getting up at 4 a.m.
I’ve gotten back into deer hunting the past few years, and I’ve tasted success, but my favorite is upland game. I especially enjoy hunting ruffed grouse, although I have trouble hitting them most of the time.
Even during the so-called “down years” in the 10-year boom-and-bust cycle of ruffed grouse populations, I’ll be in the woods every chance I get.
My reasons basically mirror the results of the survey. Hosting friends at the place “Up North,” hanging out by the fire at night while geese fly overhead and wolves occasionally howl somewhere off in the distance and breathing in the smell of decaying leaves on crisp October days in the woods … that’s why I hunt.
That’s why all of us hunt.
The “October Trip,” as it’s come to be known, is a tradition that has seen kids grow into young men and new kids join in to share the adventure. We’ve bagged our share of grouse, but like the hunters responding to the survey, the reasons for venturing afield run far deeper.
It’s the good times, the memories and the tales from previous years — some of which fall into the “what goes on in camp, stays in camp” category — that keep us coming back.
Hunting is the underlying thread, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t anticipate the Saturday night main course of “grouse casserole” every fall. But if killing grouse was the sole motivation, we’d only get together two or three times a decade when populations were at their peak.
The birds are just a bonus.
Boats — not birds
Another survey to catch my attention came from Wisconsin, where researchers have concluded boaters — and not ducks or other birds — are the culprits behind the spread of aquatic invasive species in the state’s rivers and lakes.
“Well, duh!” was my first response.
As part of the study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers spent five years monitoring remote, wilderness lakes and lakes with boat access. According to preliminary results, none of the wilderness lakes had any invasive species. By comparison, 30 percent of the lakes with boat access had Eurasian milfoil, 18 percent had zebra mussels and three lakes had spiny water fleas.
“The fact that accessible lakes are the ones that are invaded indicates that these species are moved by boaters,” Alex Latzka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student involved in the research, said in a news release. “While birds could transport invasive species from one lake to another, our finding that remote lakes do not have invasive species strongly indicates that birds are not an important factor.”
That’s something for all of us to think about next time we grumble about having to remove the drain plugs from our boats during transport or pull weeds from the trailer at the boat ramp. The consequences of getting it wrong are too severe to ignore.
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1148; or send e-mail to email@example.com.