For some Americans, hunting is a family tradition – a way to spend time together outdoors and build a greater appreciation for nature.
For others, it's a sustainable way to put healthy food on the table. Many young people today are interested in taking up hunting as a way of getting fresh, local food and knowing exactly where it came from. Learn how to turn wild game into a tasty meal.
Hunting is also about conservation. The majority of funding for state fish and wildlife agencies comes directly from hunters, anglers, and shooting sports enthusiasts. Hunters pay their way through licenses, permits, and other fees ($796 million annually). In addition, every purchase of a box of ammunition, a firearm, or archery gear includes a fee (called an "excise tax") that helps fund state fish and wildlife programs – more than $371 million in 2011 alone. It was sportsmen who developed this "user pay" system. Without these funds, state agencies would effectively cease to operate, which would affect outdoor recreation opportunities for all residents and visitors.
Hunting plays an important part in state wildlife management. Sportsmen help keep wildlife healthy by balancing wildlife populations with available habitat. For example, humans are the only remaining "predators" for white-tailed deer in many parts of the country – an overly populous species that was endangered just a century ago. Restoration programs funded by sportsmen helped this species recover.
How Can I Try Hunting?
If you are interested in hunting, we have a few quick tips to get you started:
- Our interactive quiz helps you consider what game you might want to hunt.
- Sign up for a hunter education course through your state fish and wildlife agency. These are usually held in the summer and early fall.
- Learn game laws and regulations.
- Buy a hunting license, which is usually specific to the game species and type of hunting you plan to do. For example, a state may have different seasons to hunt deer with bows, rifles, and old-fashioned muzzleloaders.
- Select your equipment and PRACTICE.
- Find a place to hunt. Public lands are a good place to start. In addition to state forests and wildlife management areas, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acres offer access to abundant game. Also, check with the national wildlife refuges near you to determine which ones permit hunting.
- Ask your local Izaak Walton League chapter! Some chapters host hunter education courses; others offer mentors to novices who don't have experienced hunters among their friends and family. Find a League chapter near you.