Between having had more than enough of the not-so-great indoors and realizing that the grocery store might not always have meat, Americans are increasingly looking to feed themselves by hunting.
“People are thinking about where they get their food and how they get their food,” Land Tawney, president of the advocacy group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers told High Country News for a story published April 29.
And people are acting, too.
Indiana, for example, had a 28 percent increase in turkey license sales, Marty Benson, a spokesman for the state’s department of natural resources, said.
In Vermont, fishing license sales are up more than 50 percent while combination hunting and fishing license are up 24 percent, according to VTDigger.
“Hunting and fishing is one of those things people love to do but don’t have time to do,” Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said.
Matt Breton, president of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Conservation Group, said the extra free time has made people think about how best to use it.
“Long term, it has the potential to be really good to maybe re-engage folks who have lost touch with how much they enjoyed standing in front of a lake with their kid, fishing,” he said.
Seeing empty shelves at the store may have also had an impact, Breton added.
“For some people, if they’re out of work, putting some fish in the freezer or some turkey in the freezer can be valuable.”
Dan Zadra, an employee of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told High Country News that in early April his “phone started ringing off the hook” as hunting applications climbed.
“Maybe part of it’s that people were sitting on their couches and didn’t have much to do,” Zadra said, noting that for others, fighting food insecurity could have been a reason as well.
David Elliot of Taos, New Mexico, understands that reasoning.
“I understand some people might be driven by antlers or some sort of glory. I don’t want to do that,” Elliot told Reuters. “I want to make sure it’s a clean, humane shot, as much as possible, and get a bunch of food.”
“It’s not just because what’s going on in the world right now. Frankly, I don’t make that much money, so this is just a good idea anyway.”
Hank Forester of the Quality Deer Management Association, a group focused on conserving white-tailed deer populations, said the shock of not having needs supplied has made some people decide to meet their needs themselves.
“People are starting to consider self-reliance and where their food comes from,” Forester said. “We’re all born hunters.”
Middle school teacher Nathaniel Evans admitted there is something more than food driving him out at 4 a.m. to hunt wild turkey.
“It’s been so important for me, being able to go out and kind of cleanse my mental card and just go and be present — you really have to be present, and quiet and listening,” he told Reuters.
Nina Stafford of Fayetteville, Georgia, called her first deer kill, which took place in January, “thrilling, exciting and remorseful for the deer.”
“The coronavirus has only made me want to go and do it more so that I don’t have that scared feeling of where’s my next meal going to come from,” she said.
Willie Frank, a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe in Washington state, said his tribe is lucky that it has never fully left the land.
“I knew that if we couldn’t get to the grocery store, or we got to the point where people couldn’t leave their houses, we’d still have our ceremonial fisheries,” he told High Country News.
“It’s a good wakeup call for not just the tribe, but for everyone — the way we rely on [supermarkets].”
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