Uptick in California Hunting, Fishing a Hip New Trend?

While disappointing news about a national downturn in hunting and fishing participation has been the norm in recent years, a new report indicates that in 2006 and 2007 the sales of hunting and fishing licenses actually increased in the bellwether state of California.

According to the state Department of Fish and Game, last year’s angler numbers were about 5 percent more than 2005 and hunter numbers were up 3 percent. In 2007, 307,270 hunting licenses and 2.1 million fishing licenses were sold.

The uptick marked the first back-to-back years reflecting an increase in license sales since 1990.

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Although the state does not track demographic information from license buyers that might indicate a trend, in an article appearing in The Sacramento Bee last week, several factors potentially contributing to the increase were cited; including more retiring baby boomers with the time to spend hunting and fishing, as well as an upward shift in female participants.

Both reasons seem perfectly logical to The Outdoor Life Newshound and could potentially be reflective of any state in the country. However, a third rationale given by the capital city newspaper could not have seemed more, uh, Californian.

Bee reporter Matt Weiser pointed to a new movement that encourages finding non-corporate and close-to-home sources of food to benefit the environment as a contributing reason for the increased interest in hunting and fishing in The Golden State.

To which we query: Must everything that happens on the West Coast be attributed to some new hip trend?

According to the article, the followers of the so-called “eat local” movement seek health benefits and a smaller “environmental footprint” by acquiring food raised in their own region.

The trend, writes Weiser, was championed in the 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Among other subjects covered in the book, University of California/Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan writes about preparing a gourmet meal for friends using only foods he personally harvested--including a wild pig he shot in Sonoma County.

“It’s a great way to remind yourself we are dependent on nature and not industry to feed ourselves,” says the author.

Hmmm. America’s hunters, anglers and conservationists have been cutting-edge trendsetters for years, and we didn’t even know it!