South Dakota Sees Decline in Young Hunters


The Game, Fish and Parks Department of South Dakota is worried today’s youth may be missing out on what the outdoors have to offer.

According to the Rapid City Journal, Scott Simpson, an administrator with the department, vented his concerns to the state game commission, citing a plateau of hunting license sales among young people over the past decade.

While Simpson and his colleagues may be concerned, local GFandP employees of Rapid City, South Dakota expressed their opinion of a growing interest in the outdoors among young people. Naturalist Keith Wintersteen says he has seen an explosion in participation in their youth programs.

“I can’t keep up with the demand,” Wintersteen said. “I’ve seen and heard that these days, that kids have their noses buried in their computers. But the ones that are coming out here have traded their Xbox for a fishing pole.”

However, the Daily Republic cited a slump among hunters between the ages of 12 and 17. Fewer than 13,500 small game youth-combination licenses were sold in 2015, marking a 1,500 to 2,500 decrease since 2005-2007.

“We’re actively talking to lots of young people on social media every day,” said Paul Kabalin, CEO of Engel Coolers, a leading manufacturer of high performance coolers and other outdoor gear. “We encourage them to share what they’re doing outside with our community of active anglers, hunters and campers so more kids get involved — and they, in turn, can bring along their friends to grow the sport.”

While participating in outdoor recreation has many proven advantages, it is imperative for young people and adults alike to stay safe while hunting and camping.

If you set out to the woods for a solo camping trip, keep in mind to always use your common sense when facing a potential issue. Follow these basic camping safety rules to ensure a safe trip:

  1. Be proactive by preparing a first aid kit for the trip
  2. NEVER approach wild animals
  3. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings
  4. Keep an eye out for snakes, spiders and other potentially harmful critters
  5. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses
  6. Pay attention to weather conditions
  7. If you’re a novice and decide to go hiking, don’t plan to hike for more than 6-12 miles a day

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