Hunting’s Two Unintended Consequences

June 15, 2022

The unintended consequences of hunting do not often get brought to the light for many people. For thousands of years the outdoors have been a center point of human culture and survival. We started with crudely fashioned spears and bows, and now in the modern age we have rifles, modern compound bows, and advanced crossbows that improve every season.

While we do have these modern luxuries to help hunters have successful hunts we also have a major issue that is unique to our place in history, that issue is the decline of hunting and outdoor activities in our communities. To most hunters having less people in the woods sounds like a great idea, and yes less competition does give a hunter a better chance at bagging that trophy whitetail or bull elk but there are unintended consequences of that mentality. Some of those consequences are animal overpopulation, and loss of conservation revenue.

Overpopulation is one of the primary concerns for most, if not all conservation agencies across the United States. The populations must be closely watched both during the hunting season and during the off season. If you look at the Missouri deer population over the last century we can see the roller-coaster of near extinction that the species went through. In the early 20th century commercial hunting almost drove the deer population to the brink of extinction. It was estimated that only several hundred deer lived in the state by the time the Conservation Commission was approved in 1937. In the following years the conservation department was able to restore the deer herd and in 1944 the population was strong enough for the first hunting season to start, in a 2 day long season over 500 bucks had been taken making for a successful first season.

In the decades following, the herd has dramatically increased while hunters in the woods have decreased so much so that for the last decade the deer populations across the Midwest have been ravaged by disease due to overpopulation. For many hunters the site of bucks piled up in the hollows that had died from starvation or CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) shakes every hunter to their core. In order to prevent disease and over consumption of food sources the older and more experienced outdoorsman must get younger hunters involved and ready to take over the woods when the older generation can no longer make it to the ground blinds and the tree stands.

The loss of hunters not only effects the animal populations but also the economic entities that effect them such as the conservation departments. When a hunter purchases a hunting license or a game specific hunting tag the money they spend goes back into conservation funding. Because of the falling number of hunters buying permits, less money is coming into the conservation departments which means less money overall for conservation improvement. In order to continue the conservation efforts for all wildlife it will be crucial in the coming decades to get as many young hunters involved in the outdoors.

To sum up the overall point here, if younger generations are not mentored and taught how to value and appreciate the outdoors then eventually there wont be enough hunters to keep herd numbers in check for the environments health as well as less funding for conservation efforts across the country. In order to prevent this outcome it will be crucial in the next several decades to get more people involved as hunters and conservationists.