|Look ... and you will learn a lot.|
Over at MeatEater, Patrick Durkin asks: “Is Hunting Too White?”
The answer is in the data.
Durkin notes that “In the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's most recent participation study of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, the agency found 11.5 million Americans hunted at least once in 2016. Of those hunters, 11.1 million—96%—were white and 3% were Hispanic. Blacks and Asians made up most of the remaining 1%, but at levels too low to pinpoint participation rates.”
And what’s that mean for hunting?
Simple: It means hunting will continue to die unless there is more recruitment and encouragement across racial and gender lines.
Durkin notes that “whites currently make up 61% of the U.S. population; Hispanics, 18%; and blacks, 13%, but that in 2013, over half the children under age 1 were racial minorities for the first time in U.S. history.”
Black, Hispanic, and Asian kids raised in cities by parents who do not hunt, fish, hike, kayak, or rock climb are not likely to find an outdoor mentor, while equipment costs can be beyond daunting.
And then there is racism, both real and imagined.
Rick Dillard, who is black and heads the U.S. Forest Service’s fish and wildlife program for Mississippi’s national forests, notes that his black friends say there’s no way they’d go to unfamiliar places in the woods with white people they don’t know who had guns.
In addition, there’s no real effort by the hunting and fishing community to demonstrate inclusiveness.
Last night, I spent over 30 minutes looking for a single gun ad with a black face in it. Ditto for Hispanic, Asian, Arab, or Native American faces.
Zero. Zip. Nada. Null. Empty set.
Over 390 million guns have been sold to civilian gun owners, and there are NO gun manufacturer ads showing non-white faces?
Then I looked for non-white faces in dog food ads.
Same thing. Over $30 billion worth of dog food is sold in the country every year, and I can't find a dog food ad with a non-white face?
Rick Dillard has noticed. “If you’re a black hunter, and you watch TV hunting shows, or pick up an outdoors magazine or catalog, you feel intimidated when no one looks like you,” says Dillard. “The hunting industry has done a wonderful job including women and children, but I sense discomfort about including people of color.”
That’s a very polite word for racism.
Racial discomfort — i.e. racism — may have a hand in the death of hunting in America.
Right now only about 5 percent of Americans, 16 years old and older, actually hunt.
That's half of what it was 50 years ago — and the numbers are still going down as Facebook, Netflix, and sloth invade our lives.
What that means is that the financial base for hunting land conservation will, at some point, shrink.
Why should 95 percent of the public stand up to subsidize the under 5 percent who hunt?
That’s a good question now.
It’s going to be an even tougher question to answer in the future.