The Top 7 Threats to Deer Hunting

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Deer Hunters Face Some Serious Opposition

Habitat Loss

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1 | Habitat Loss

This is far and away one of the biggest problems we face. Habitat loss continues to destroy prime deer country. The more our urban and suburban areas spread, the more whitetail populations decline. That’s just how it is. Sure, deer have learned to coexist in populated areas. But the numbers don’t lie. And they point to a declining herd nationwide.

Photo credit: Karamysh/Shutterstock

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2 | Predators

It’s a touchy subject. But it’s a touchy subject that needs to be discussed. Coyotes are on the march across the country and it doesn’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon. Now we have wolf, black bear, and bobcat populations on the rise, too. Between those four predators — and numbers produced by hunters — if current trends continue, I fear whitetail populations will be much lower in 10 years than they are now. Predators have to be managed, too.

Photo credit: Sebartz/Shutterstock

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Land Access

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3 | Land Access

This is partly due to urbanization. But it’s also due to more land being sucked up by paid hunters. Leased land is becoming more common and hunting-by-permission ground is become less so. As hunters experience more difficulty to find a place to hunt, fewer of them will head afield. We can’t afford to lose members of our ranks. Furthermore, the more that happens, the less money that funds wildlife and the less support our way of life has. The call for more land access needs to be heard.

Photo credit: Tom Reichner/Shutterstock

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4 | Disease

Disease is another issue on the whitetail front. Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) hasn’t been as prevalent the last couple years. But flip back through the calendar to 2012 and 2013 and it was a whole different story.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is much more threatening to whitetails (and other cervids) in the long run. We just recently learned that Arkansas joined the other states and provinces with CWD amongst the herds. The always-fatal disease continues to spread, even across state lines. It’s a serious threat DNRs, biologists, and hunters are having to face right now.

Photo credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

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Hunter Recruitment

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5 | Hunter Recruitment

Most hunters are over the age of 50. We’ve known that for several years now. The problem comes from a lack of hunters within the younger generations. As older hunters become too old to hunt, how are we going to replace them? That’s a very big problem we’re currently facing and we'll feel the effects of it in the next 20 years if a solution isn’t unearthed.

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Hunting Restrictions

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6 | Hunting Restrictions

We recently saw in Alaska that national powers decided what would happen at the state level in regard to wolf hunting. We don’t see this type thing happen very often with whitetails, yet. But now that this precedence has been set in Alaska, it could become an issue that tries to spread into other species categories. That’s something hunters should discourage. The power to decide belongs at the state level, not the federal.

Photo credit: Cracker Clips Stock Media/Shutterstock

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7 | Ourselves

The idea that our own ideas are superior to everyone else’s is dangerous. We must remember that there are forces at work that are trying to take away all hunting. Why then is it that we are spending all of our time and energy fighting amongst ourselves? We must put aside our differences and unite to face the foes that desire nothing more than to strip away all hunting rights we enjoy.

Photo credit: John Hafner

Editor's Note: This was originally published on February 23, 2017.

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Deer hunting is my absolute favorite pastime in the world. There is no greater thrill than chasing whitetails. It’s fun. It gets in your blood. And it stays there.

Sadly, there are a lot of things that threaten our way of life. Deer hunting faces more opposition and challenges today than it ever has. And these seven things are at the forefront of those.

It’s time we push back against each of them.

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