Consider the fact that over the past decade, the youngest two age classes (hunters 16-35 years old) have dropped from 39 percent of the hunting population to 25 percent. Meanwhile, hunters over age 65 have increased from 7 percent to 14 percent of the population.
At this rate, a significant segment of our hunting population will die off before my son is old enough to hunt.
Meanwhile, DEC officials have for years said the most effective way to recruit new hunters is to reach them earlier before they have become involved with all the activities, and often negative influences that emerge in later adolescence.
Just as important is that these new hunters get the adult supervision and safety training they need which is why the new bill requires an adult mentor to be present. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) co-sponsored the junior big game hunting bill and is the ranking member of the environmental conservation committee.
Reaching the majority of the Assembly on this issue has been a struggle, Sayward said. Its difficult to make them understand that hunting is a way of life in the North Country. A tradition and a bonding experience for families.
Sayward said downstate legislators need to understand that New York is extremely diverse. That the cultural change from the inner city to the rural Adirondacks is extreme.
They see it like they are trying to get guns out of the hands of kids and we are trying to put them in their hands, not as the positive life experience hunting can be.
Lets hope that mindset can be changed.
Offering quality hunting experiences for our youth is not only a healthy alternative to other available diversions it teaches life skills often sorely lacking.
It worked for me, and I fully intend to pass it on to my son and as many other young people as want to learn.