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News: Back into the wild: More hunt, fish now

More Americans are heading outdoors to hunt and fish for fun, reversing a two-decade-long decline among adults.
Outdoors activities are catching on with youth as well.

Will and his brother Charlie, to the right, are both FLM.com subscribers and prefer to be outdoors than glued to a computer. And they’re not even close to 16 years old.

Eleven percent more Americans (ages 16 and older) fished and 9 percent more hunted in 2011 than in 2006, according to a new five-year survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The kids are going, too. Of those ages 6 to 15, 13 percent more hunted (from 1.6 million to a record 1.8 million) and 2 percent more fished (from 8.3 million to 8.5 million) during the same period.

Higher participation numbers aren’t due to U.S. population growth, because even the share of adult Americans who hunted (6 percent last year) or fished (14 percent) were each up one percentage point from 2006 — the first such shift in 20 years.

“What we see is a pretty significant change in direction,” says Dan Ashe, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s director, noting declines in prior surveys since 1991. He says the specific causes for the reversal won’t be spelled out until the final report is issued later this year but adds: “There’s a growing realization that doing things outdoors is healthy.”

Charlie pairs up with brother Will on an albie blitz off Montauk Point, Long IsLand, New York this past weekend.

The recession had a major impact, says Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates Inc., a Florida firm that tracks the industry and noticed a rise in hunting and fishing licenses three years ago. He says these old-fashioned pastimes had been giving way to other activities such as kids’ sports teams and computer games. [Read More]

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