- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gloom and doom is predicted for the future of hunting. Some say it’s on its way out, headed for the dustbin of history. So what else is new? I’ve heard it for years.

The latest figures from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service say the number of hunters age 16 and older has declined 10 percent in the past 10 years. The current number of hunters, the F&WS says, is about 12½ million, down from 14 million.

Blame the loss of available hunting lands and the erroneous belief that hunting is expensive and requires too much time, which isn’t particularly true.

It is a fact, however, that a lot of possible hunting acreage is disappearing because of urban and suburban sprawl and that not enough fathers, uncles, cousins and neighbors who hunt introduce this rewarding activity to the youth of America.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Sportsmen”s Foundation, which consists of congressmen, senators and leaders of industry and conservation, hunting and fishing groups, suggests it’s far too early to shovel dirt over us.

On Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. in the House Agriculture Committee room of the Longworth House Office Building, the CSF will discuss “America”s Hunters and Anglers — A Force as Big as All Outdoors.” It will focus on the economic powerhouse composed of hunters and anglers and “how they compare to other sectors of the economy.”

The CSF points out that hunters and the tens of millions of anglers constitute a powerful voting bloc that is much larger than other sports sectors. During the afternoon, representatives from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the American Sportfishing Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation will address current concerns and solutions for the outdoor sporting world.

Kiss an angler or hunter — By presidential proclamation, Saturday is National Hunting & Fishing Day. If you know someone who hunts and fishes, give him or her a hug, maybe even a kiss, but don’t expect one from PETA members. They not only hate hunters, but they now wag their vegan fingers at fishermen, too. Meanwhile, to learn more about National Hunting & Fishing Day, go to www.nhfday.org.

Free fishing seminars The Bass Pro Shops store in Hanover, Md., will have a series of free fishing seminars conducted by freshwater and saltwater experts Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m. to coincide with National Hunting & Fishing Day.

There will be specialists who will cover the Chesapeake Bay, fly-fishing specialists for fresh- and saltwater and tidal river bass fishing and a lure maker, who will help with the proper selection of lures for the fall. For a schedule, call Allan Ellis ar 410/689-2500, ext. 5217.

Patuxent CCA chapter banquet — The public is invited to attend the inaugural banquet and auction of the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland Patuxent River Chapter on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the St. Mary’s County Elks Lodge in California, Md.

Admission is $65 a person ($120 a couple), which includes a one-year membership in the CCA. Interested sponsors can “buy” a table for $800. A portion of the cost is tax deductible.

The ticket includes appetizers, dinner and dessert, draft beer and wine, a live auction, silent auction and raffles. Fishing equipment and trips will be auctioned, along with other items. To buy tickets, contact Keith McGuire at kmcguire@md.metrocast.net or call 301/997-0331.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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