The Biggest Threats to Your Hunting and Fishing

25) Internet hunting In 2005 John Lockwood created Live-shot.com, which allowed people to remotely control a gun and shoot deer with a webcam. People could shoot deer in Texas from their couch in Seattle. Lockwood's program was meant to give disabled people a chance to shoot deer. While Lockwood's intentions may have been good, Live-shot.com was highly-controversial in the hunting community. Eventually 40 states went on to pass legislation banning cyber hunting.
24) The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence The Brady Campaign says it doesn't want to ban guns only "reform the gun industry." But in reality, they push anti-handgun legislation and they are against AR rifles. They try to blur the lines between ARs and semi-autos in an attempt to twist public perception. Photo by: Mykl Roventine
23) The B.P. oil spill The largest marine oil spill in history just happened to take place in one of our nation's best and most fragile fisheries. In total, the spill dumped about 5 million barrels of oil into the gulf, poisoning an untold number of wildlife and destroying business for thousands of fisherman. Fish and Wildlife officials are scrambling to clean up the mess and minimize damage and many areas in the Gulf are already open for fishing and have been mostly unaffected. But the clock is still ticking. In only a few months waterfowl from all over the country will migrate down the Mississippi Flyway to winter in the region.
22) Flight complications Flying with a gun and ammunition, especially to a different country, can get complicated. Bags can get lost and it's not always easy (or cheap) to get all of your meat home either. So do your research, know the law before you travel and don't let airline regulations ruin your trip.
21) Outdoorsmen discord Not all outdoorsmen are going to see eye to eye on every issue, but that doesn't mean we can't get along. There's room out there for crossbowmen and archers, fly fishers and live-bait anglers, wingshooters and big game hunters. A healthy debate is one thing, but trying to restrict another outdoorsman from pursuing his sport of choice hurts us all.
20) Hunting and fishing accidents An accident in the outdoors can take you out of the field for a season, or even permanently. Luckily most sporting accidents can be avoided with a little extra precaution. So, wear your treestand harness, put your lifejacket on and keep your head on a swivel. Photo by: Werner Vermaak
19) Too much gear There's a certain amount of gear you need, an amount of gear you want and an amount of gear that will take up so much space in the basement and cost so much money that your wife will leave you. For the most part, new gadgets are fun and helpful to outdoorsmen. But don't forget that we're out there to test ourselves against nature, not to triangulate the position of the closest 160-inch buck through satellite telemetry and a heat-seeking, broadhead. Let's keep the playing field as level as possible.
18) Coyotes The coyote population in the U.S. has been steadily rising for decades. Originally a western plains dweller, coyotes have been moving east devastating deer populations as they go. A pack of coyotes can not only ruin your day's hunt, but it can also ruin your deer season. Photo by: Christopher Bruno
17) PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is strictly against hunting and fishing. While it's sometimes easy for us hunters and anglers to brush them off as a bunch of wack-jobs, PETA has more than 2 million members, and plenty of funding. They run smear campaigns against celebrities who like to hunt and fish, and they regularly protest fishing tournaments. Also, they have support from celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Pamela Anderson, Dennis Rodman, Pink and Eva Mendez. Their slogan: "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."
16) Technology Kids just don't spend as much time outdoors as they use to, but they are spending more time playing video games, surfing the Internet and talking on their cell phones. A survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that virtually 100 percent of American teenagers (boys and girls) play video games. And according to a study done by the University of Michigan, the average child from ages 6 to 11 spends 28 hours in front of the television per week. While not all of these kids hunt or fish (or come from outdoor families), it's a telling sign of our culture. We're becoming more indoorsy. Kids aren't use to being outside, breathing fresh air, chasing rabbits with sling shots and getting bit by mosquitoes. If you're going to let your kids play video games, at least make sure it's a hunting or fishing game. Photo by: Jecowa
15) Poor sportsmen We've all fished or hunted with one of these guys before. They leave their trash in the lake, sky bust ducks and take pot shots at trophy deer. While these guys might not be considered poachers, they definitely don't help our sport. In general they can wreck your day afield and make all hunters and anglers look bad. Photo by: Andy Mabbett
14) Work The average American gets four weeks of vacation each year, including holidays. As a country, we work more hours than almost anyone else in the world, and for most people, the 40-hour workweek has been replaced by the 50-hour or even 60-hour workweek. This doesn't leave a whole lot of time for hunting and fishing, let alone scouting, target practice and getting in shape for the season. Every once in awhile it's O.K. to call in sick. Photo by: Paul Keleher
13) Organized sports Organized sports are partly behind the decline in the number of kids who hunt and fish. While sports are great, more and more kids are spending time practicing sports and less time hunting and fishing. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the peak age for participation in team sports is 11 years old. About 72 percent of 11-year-olds play at least one team sport. This is an important age for up-and-coming outdoorsmen and women, because in many states, the legal hunting age is 12. Photo by: Steve Starer
12) The Humane Society of the United States While it may seem like the humane society is a good organization (we all like dogs right?) the HSUS is actually the largest animal rights and anti-hunting organization in the world. More than 11 million Americans support the HSUS. Don't confuse them with your local animal shelter. Less than .5 percent of their funds actually go to local humane societies that help abandoned pets. Also, they regularly lobby on Capitol Hill against hunting. Here's a just a few things the HSUS openly protests on its website: pheasant stocking, varmint hunting contests, bear hunting, shark fishing and dove hunting.
11) Bad press The national media has a way of sometimes portraying outdoorsmen in a negative light. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found in a survey that liberals in the national media outnumber conservatives by about 4 to 1. While being liberal does not equate to being an anti-hunter (I know plenty of avid outdoorsmen who lean left), most hunters are conservative. Also, conservatives more strongly support gun rights. This trend is often reflected in the press.
10) Poor economy As the country tries to pull itself out of the Great Recession (the unemployment rate is still at about 9.6 percent) hunters and anglers are having a harder time paying for trips. While most outdoorsmen are still making local outings, fewer people are able to afford expensive weeklong fishing or hunting trips. On the upside, if you hunt and fish close to home, it can be a money saving exercise. Shoot a few does on the back 80 and you won't have to pay your grocery store butcher for a year.
9) Anti-gun laws We saw how government can impact gun owners when the Obama administration entered the White House and gun sales skyrocketed. This was because people thought Obama would drop the hammer on gun owners making it impossible to buy new a new gun. Luckily no such legislation has passed (gun rights activists have actually scored victories in the Supreme Court during Obama's tenure), but with every new president and Congress there is the potential threat for anti-gun laws. Vote wisely.
8) Commercial Overfishing Seafood is big business in America. Our appetite for seafood has kept pace with our population growth, which has boomed from 151 million to over 300 million in the last 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. About 17 percent of fish stocks around the world analyzed by the Administration were overfished. One of the most devastating examples of commercial overfishing is the bluefin tuna, which has been overexploited around the world thanks to the growing popularity of sushi. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says that seven of the 23 commercial tuna stocks worldwide are already overfished or depleted by commercial fisherman, and an additional nine stocks are also threatened.
7) Hunting restrictions on game Even though there are more than 3,000 wolves in Minnesota, the most out of any of the lower 48 states, there is no wolf hunting allowed there. Wyoming has been pushing for a wolf hunt for years with no luck. In the Eastern U.S., black bear populations have been rebounding for years, but until recently, hunters' hands have been tied. New Jersey just got its black bear hunt back this fall (it has been cancelled since 2005). Kentucky got its first black bear hunt in more than 100 years last fall, but the quota was only 10 bears total or five females. It's hard to get out hunting when wildlife officials and lawmakers won't open seasons.
6) Invasive species Invasive species out eat, outcompete and outgrow our local flora and fauna. Damage caused by invasive species costs the U.S. about $120 billion per year. But invasive plants and animals also have done a number on our hunting and fishing. Asian carp are threatening the Great Lakes fishery, buckthorn has choked out pristine hunting woods around the country and feral pigs are outcompeting deer and turkeys in the South. Photo by: Richard Bartz
5) Poachers For a law-abiding sportsman there is almost nothing more infuriating than a poacher. They deplete game populations, take trophy animals out of season and hurt the public image of hunters and anglers. It also seems poaching cases are growing more atrocious. Just this summer news stories broke about how a 19-year-old man snuck into a deer farm to kill a trophy-class buck; a Tennessee man was busted for 12 counts of poaching and was sentenced to two years in jail; and a two-year sting operation in Missouri uncovered hundreds of different poachers.
4) Urbanization In 2008, for the first time in human history, more people worldwide lived in cities than in rural areas. In the U.S. about 80 percent of the population lives in urbanized areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It's harder to get out hunting and fishing when you live in the city. The woods and water are farther away, the traffic is worse and in some cities it's hard to own guns. Also, the culture is different in urban areas. You don't see a lot of deer hanging in barn doorways in Manhattan. Photo by: Thomas Pintaric
3) Politicians Politicians can strip money from conservation programs, write overly strict hunting laws and restrict gun rights. Thanks to the large number of outdoorsmen and women, few politicians will actually say they are anti-hunting, anti-fishing or anti-gun, but they're out there. California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for example has tried to take money from fishing license sales (money that's supposed to go toward conservation) to offset state debt. At the same time his administration tried to restrict access for offshore recreational anglers. Photo by: Dale Frost
2) Bad science Hunting and fishing bag limits are supposed to be based on population estimations gathered through scientific processes. Most of the time this works out to the benefit of everyone. But sometimes, these processes, estimations and predictions are not always accurate (there is a lot of guess and check work in any science including fisheries and wildlife management). In 2008 a graduate student and researcher from Wisconsin found that the state had three times more bears than the DNR estimated. Also, sportsmen and wildlife officials don't always see eye-to-eye. For example there is controversy in Pennsylvania, where hunters complain about not seeing enough deer, but some wildlife commissioners insist on taking more does. Who's right? Only time will tell.
1) Loss of Public land Public hunting land is the lifeline of the sport. It ensures that everyone can participate in fair chase hunting. While many states have plenty of public land, others do not (95 percent of Texas is privately owned). States without a no net-loss policy, which ensures a base acreage of public land is always accessible, could see more of their land slip away. These states have a no net-loss policy: Illinois, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, West Virginia, Connecticut, Alabama and Georgia.