7 Reasons Why Kids Aren’t Deer Hunting (2023)

We’ve lost more than 18 million hunters since 1982. There was a decline of 2.2 million active hunters from 2011 to 2016 alone. We’ve talked about all the reasons before. There’s less available hunting land, an aging hunting population, and a shift from rural to urban living.

That five-year loss of 2-million-plus hunters is the most concerning. It means that we aren’t coming close to recruiting enough new and young hunters to replace the hunters who are either aging out or giving up the sport.

While there are programs that do a great job of providing youth hunts and seasons, are the young hunters involved sticking with it? Unfortunately, according to many parents, they aren’t. Why not? Here are seven reasons why.

7 Reasons Why Kids Aren’t Deer Hunting (1)

1. Nowhere to Go

The days of knocking on doors and getting permission to hunt may not be dead, but they are on a definite downhill slide. Increasing population, corporate farming replacing family farms, and increased leasing and outfitting in popular hunting areas have all made it harder to find a place to hunt today than it was 30 years ago.

Jeff Valentine is an active-duty soldier in the Army National Guard. His sons Trevor and Tabor love to hunt both deer and turkeys. But loss of land is making it tougher for Valentine to get them afield. “I’ve had several farms over the years to hunt. Some have been sold, some leased, and others have had enough bad experiences with trespassers that I don’t feel comfortable taking the boys there,” he says.

Being in the military also has its challenges, like having drill on opening weekend or being deployed for the season. “Most places I have permission to hunt now are not very good and they are over an hour drive away,” he says. “The boys still enjoy going, but I’m afraid they are losing interest because of the lack of opportunities.”

2. Divorce

Recent statistics show that almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. That means many hunting parents don’t get to spend as much time with their kids as they would like.

Tim Smoke is one of those parents. Like Valentine, Smoke was career military before retiring to take a job in the private sector. His son, Gavin, enjoys hunting with him, but lives most of the year in another state with his mom. “It’s definitely tough,” Smoke says. “My ex-wife isn’t a hunter and Gavin doesn’t get a lot of exposure to the sport unless he is with me.

“It really takes a team effort on both our parts to work to get him here during season. We have to work around school breaks and family holidays. That means we don’t often get to hunt during the best parts of the season.”

He tries to keep Gavin excited and interested by sharing trail camera photos of new bucks, talking about new stand locations, and letting him be involved with off-season work like putting in food plots and hanging stands.

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“One thing I try not to do is pressure him to spend all of our time together in the deer stand,” Smoke says. “I don’t want him to feel like we have to be hunting to be able to spend time together.”

3. Busy Schedules

Other than sports, Future Farmers of America (FFA) or band, there wasn’t a lot to do after school in my small hometown. What sports we had were school-oriented with relatively short seasons. Today it’s different. After-school activities abound, from year-long traveling sports teams to programs like art, music, dance, computer programs and part-time jobs. It isn’t unusual for today’s young people to have something scheduled seven days a week, leaving precious little time for hunting.

Keith Meador is an avid bowhunter. Not only does he fill his own freezer each year, but he always takes a few extra antlerless deer to help hungry families in his area. Among our group of hunting friends, we laughingly say that Meador kills more deer every year than EHD.

He has passed his love of hunting down to his son, Joe. Joe is a soon-to-be senior in high school, and is rapidly climbing the ranks as a top college basketball prospect in the state. Meador estimates that, between high school ball and AAU travel teams, and the practice that goes into both, Joe might have a total of five free weekends between the months of August and February. That doesn’t leave much time for the woods.

“Joe’s schedule doesn't allow for much time, if any, afield. I manage to get him out two or three times during deer season. I can only hope there is enough desire in him to continue to hunt as he moves on from high school to college and then adulthood,” he says.

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4. The Woods don’t have WiFi

I grew up in the age of Atari and three channels on TV. Our entertainment was outdoors. With access to hundreds and hundreds of acres of hardwoods and river bottoms, my brother and I would often stay out till dark hunting whatever was in season.

Today is different. Many kids are seemingly tethered to electronic media of one sort or another. My oldest son Hunter is one of them. He will be attending college for the first time in the upcoming fall semester where he will study information management and design in hopes of landing a job in the video game industry.

He’s grown up hunting, but readily admits that he doesn’t enjoy being out of service while he hunts. “I have several projects that are always going on, conversations with friends all over the world, multi-player games I’m participating in; it’s just hard to be away from it for several days while at deer camp,” he says. “I still enjoy hunting, but I just don’t like being away from Wi-Fi for days on end.”

5. Negative Peer Pressure

Social media has given these small groups of anti-hunters a big voice. You might remember Texas cheerleader Kendall Jones, whose photos of her legally taken big game animals sparked coordinated online attacks and death threats. You can read more about her battle with anti-hunters here.

That same pressure happens on a smaller scale in high schools and on social media pages throughout the country. Rural areas are generally more accepting of hunting than urban ones, but young hunters can face a severe social backlash over hunting regardless of where they go to school.

6. Families Don’t Hunt

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, less than 4% of the population hunted as of 2016. That means the majority of the kids growing up in this country aren’t exposed to hunting at all.

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Since the traditional first exposure to hunting for most of us was through family members, we have to find other ways to introduce kids from non-hunting families to the sport. Even more importantly, we have to find ways to keep them interested and going after that first hunt.

Jason Wells is a Conservation Officer for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is part of a team that puts on yearly deer and turkey hunts designed for kids who have never hunted. Many of them come from non-hunting families.

“We see a lot of interest with several kids, but getting them to go, or even apply is a challenge because it is not in their lifestyle,” he says. “They may be a little shy or reserved to accept a new challenge with no support.”

Once the kids experience the hunt, many are hooked. “They respond well not only to the hunt, but also to the training,” he says. Unfortunately, without continued involvement by either the parent or the groups putting on the hunts, many of the kids don’t get the opportunity to continue hunting. “I have seen many kids who continue to hunt afterwards. Sadly, there are also those that want to go, but they just don’t get the opportunities,” he says. “Hopefully we have given them the knowledge and experience to come back to hunting later in life.”

7. Antler Envy

I enjoy chasing mature bucks. But they aren’t the only reason I hunt. Shoot, antlers probably don’t even make my top five reasons for hunting. There is nothing wrong with experienced hunters holding out for a giant buck, but making a kid pass deer because their antlers don’t reach some magical number is a sure recipe for early burnout.

But it isn’t even always the adult hunters who are imposing the restrictions. Big antlers sell, and outdoor television knows that. A surprising number of kids want to hold out for a deer like they see on TV — and they might wait a lifetime for that chance.

Antler envy abounds on social media, too. Any proud young hunter — or parent of a young hunter —who posts a picture of a young buck on Facebook and sees a comment like, “Would’ve been a good one next year” is going to question whether they should’ve shot at all. Let new hunters shoot what makes them happy. Be happy and excited with them. There will be plenty of time to chase tape measures down the road.

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Why do people quit deer hunting? ›

The most common reason (40% of people that no longer hunt) given was the Lack of free time. Reasons like Family Obligations, Work Obligations and Lack of Interest followed with 35, 34 and 33 percent respectively. These top reasons people gave for quitting hunting are things almost everyone has to deal with.

What is one of the main reasons some people oppose hunting? ›

Arguments Against Hunting
  • Hunting opponents argue that hunting is unsafe,11 ineffective, unnecessary, and unfair to taxpayers.
  • Opponents point out that compared to some other forms of recreation, hunting injuries are far more likely to be fatalities.
Apr 25, 2021

What age should kids go hunting? ›

What Age is Appropriate for Hunting? The age when a child or youth can legally carry a gun and shoot a big-game animal differs depending on where you live. Some states have no age limit. Others range from 10 to 16 years old and may include requirements about hunting as an apprentice or with a mentor.

At what age do most hunters stop hunting? ›

Hunter Demographics Will Continue Shifting

But we are getting old and gray. Studies show that on average people quit hunting at age 65.

What age are most hunters? ›

Hunter Age Breakdown

Interestingly enough, the average age of hunters is 40+ years old, which represents 69% of the population.

Why deer should not be hunted? ›

The deer can do a lot of damage to the environment, and using hunting to control their population is more humane than leaving animals to starve due to a lack of food.

What bothers people about hunting? ›

Some of the rationales for why people hunt — conservation, subsistence, and trophy/sport hunting. What bothers many people about hunting — harm, necessity, and character. The relationship between naturalness and virtue and the challenges associated with the naturalness-morally good argument.

Why is hunting an issue? ›

Hunting has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk. Less than 4 percent of the U.S. population (13.7 million people) hunts, yet hunting is permitted in many wildlife refuges, national forests, and state parks and on other public lands.

What age should you shoot a deer? ›

So what age deer should you shoot? A whitetail buck is considered physiologically mature at 5½, and that's your prime shooter age. However, not all areas have 5-year or older bucks. In that case hunters might consider a 3½-year-old as older or mature.

Is hunting good for kids? ›

Hunting teaches children about determination, ethics, responsibility, self-reliance, patience, and respect. It's also a way for kids to gain an understanding of the food cycle and the importance of our environment and conservation.

Can a kid shoot a deer? ›

As I understand it, now a kid of any age can kill a deer if accompanied by a mentor (and using the adult's tag on the deer). To get their own deer tag, a kid would have to be 7. “We're not taking away the ability for the 2-year-old to shoot an antlered buck.

Is hunting good for mental health? ›

Developing Mental Strength

Regularly practicing hunting is a great way of training mental skills such as focus, perception, and attention, problem-solving and multitasking.

Is hunting worse than farming? ›

When we look at the numbers and methods side by side, it's no question that hunting is far more sustainable. Thought hunting also has a negative effect on the environment and is the third most known cause of animal extinction since 1600, its impact is undeniably smaller than that of factory farming.

What are pro arguments for hunting? ›

Proponents argue that hunting is an effective form of animal population control, particularly since most natural predators (such as wolves) have been eliminated in many countries. Hunters keep animal populations in check which, ultimately, benefits ecosystems and the environment (and prevents animal starvation).

Is it necessary to hunt deer? ›

Hunting controls conflicts between humans and wildlife.

Animals can become habituated to humans, resulting in an increase in property damage and sometimes harmful encounters. For instance, hunting does limit deer browse in agricultural areas, but helps to curb deer-motor vehicle collisions as well.

Which US state has the most hunters? ›

In 2021, the U.S. state with the highest number of hunting licenses, tags, permits, and stamps issued was Wisconsin, with over four million.

What states have the least hunters? ›

Urbanization and strict gun laws, in addition to a drop in overall interest, are why California has the fewest number of hunting licenses in the nation.

Why are less people hunting? ›

Larson said urbanization and the increasing use of technology have especially deterred young adults from participating in hunting. Another factor impacting hunter participation is the growth of racial ethnic minority populations, according to Larson.

What state has the most female hunters? ›

Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Texas had the most female hunters relative to U.S. Figure 1. Regression line, scatter plots, and residuals for female hunters predicted from population.

Do hunters sleep? ›

The researchers looked at people living in three hunter-gatherer societies in rural parts of Africa and South America. Investigations showed that these traditional peoples slept slightly less than 6.5 hours a night on average. In comparison, people in industrial societies usually average seven to eight hours per night.

What would happen if we stopped hunting deer? ›

"There would be lots of crop damage, lots of damage to forestry generation," he said. Merchant says disease and starvation would take over. Even the moose population wouldn't be out of the woods, as deer would also eat their food. And humans would suffer, too.

Do deer feel pain like humans? ›

Deer are mammals, so their nervous system resembles a human's, Ross said. They likely have similar perceptions and reactions to ours, but the degree to which they feel pain is subjective, most researchers say.

Is hunting ever justified? ›

It is morally wrong to hunt and kill animals. But hunting may be a good thing for the environment: Hunting may be necessary to preserve the health or integrity of an ecosystem by controlling animal populations. Animal rights endanger biodiversity, because they prevent breeding endangered species in captivity.

What is the hardest thing to hunt? ›

Lions and leopards and other big cats like tigers, are some of the most challenging and dangerous animals to hunt. Both lions and leopards have exceptional night vision, shrewd intelligence, fearlessness, speed and agility. A lion can cover 100 yards in 3 to 4 seconds.

Is hunting toxic masculinity? ›

Toxic masculinity is a term used in the social sciences to refer to traditional cultural masculine ideals such as dominance and aggression. Hunters play out this deadly and archaic stereotype by hunting down and killing animals for recreational purposes.

Is it hard to hunt deer? ›

Deer hunting is a challenging way of life. It isn't easy, especially for those just trying to get into the sport. But for those who have the will, patience and grit to do it, it's well within reach. I recently was reminded that deer hunting can be difficult whether you're pursuing a buck or doe.

Why are deers a problem? ›

White-tailed deer directly affect many aspects of our lives. Hunters, farmers, foresters, motorists, gardeners, and homeowners are all impacted by deer abundance levels. This may be through car deer collisions, disease transmission, loss of desirable landscaping, crop damage, or over-browsed woodlands.

What percentage of people oppose hunting? ›

More broadly, 69 percent of Americans say they oppose trophy hunting, including 79 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of Republicans, and 67 percent of non-partisan voters.

What are the effects of hunting? ›

Local hunting and illegal wildlife trade can result in local extirpations and drive species to extinction. Wildlife populations have declined in forests throughout the tropics due to hunting, and often, vulnerable species have been extirpated, resulting in what is called the 'empty forest syndrome'.

What age are bucks the biggest? ›

In 1994, aging by tooth wear indicated 96% of the Oklahoma white-tailed deer buck harvest was less than 4 years old. A white-tailed buck generally does not reach its maximum body and antler size until it is 4.5 to 9.5 years old.

Are Bucks smarter than does? ›

This is a common thought among hunters because they see more does than bucks while hunting. However, bucks are not any smarter than does. With significant doe harvest, most hunters see as many if not more bucks than does. This tells us that this behavior is effected by hunting pressure and not brain power.

How old is a 7 point deer? ›

Age Estimate: 2 ½-Year-Old Buck

Often, it grows between six and 10 points, with a typical average number of eight points. The head is still long and slender. Body weight distribution shows a heavier rump than front end.

Is The deer Hunter scary? ›

At the film's center comes one of the most horrifying sequences ever created in fiction, as the three are taken prisoner and forced to play Russian roulette while their captors gamble on who will, or will not, blow out his brains.

Is Good Will hunting appropriate for a 14 year old? ›

Throughout, extreme profanity and alcohol use is prevalent, in addition to sexually suggestive content. This is a must watch for all people, but I recommend waiting to be at least 16, to not only be mature enough to watch the film, but also be mature enough to relate and benefit from the themes presented.

Is it OK to shoot small bucks? ›

Simply put, if regulations don't include minimum point restrictions, then there is absolutely nothing unsporting or ethically wrong with shooting young bucks, no matter what any hunter tells another. “Take a moment to remember why we hunt,” Kip Adams from the QDMA writes.

Is it cruel to shoot deer? ›

Hunters cause injuries, pain and suffering to animals who are not adapted to defend themselves from bullets, traps and other cruel killing devices. Hunting destroys animal families and habitats, and leaves terrified and dependent baby animals behind to starve to death.

Can a 7 year old hunt in Texas? ›

Proof of certification or deferral is required to be on your person while hunting, either printed or electronically (including the Texas Outdoor Annual mobile app). Certification is not required to purchase a hunting license. Minimum age of certification is 9 years.

Is hunting a learned or inherited behavior? ›

Hunting is an example of a learned behavior. Cubs have to learn how to hunt by watching their parents.

Why is hunting not a good sport? ›

Hunting for sport is cruel. Hunting disrupts migration and hibernation patterns, decimates animal family units, and degrades habitats. Hunting dogs are sometimes are raised in horrible conditions. They may live at the ends of chains until hunting season begins.

Why are humans so good at hunting? ›

Darimont highlighted two factors that initially allowed humans to blow past non-human predators: our symbiosis with dogs, which allowed far more efficient hunting, and the development of projectile weapons and other means of killing that spared us dangerous face-to-face contact with prey.

What percentage of deer hunters are successful? ›

Whether you prefer to hunt with a bow, gun, or both, less than 10 out of every 100 hunters bag a deer, which always have the advantage.

Is 100 acres enough to hunt on? ›

How Much Hunting Land Do You Need? If you are buying the property just to hunt by yourself with one or two friends or family members, 50-100 acres with some woods and brushy cover is enough land to enjoy a positive hunting experience on. (More, though, is always better.)

What are the cons of hunting? ›

7 Reasons Why Hunting Is Wrong
  • It causes a lot of suffering and death. ...
  • Like humans, animals want to live. ...
  • It can lead to violence against humans. ...
  • Animals don't always die right after they're shot. ...
  • It tears animal families apart. ...
  • Some hunters say that hunting “keeps nature in balance,” but that's not true.

Is it ethical to hunt deer? ›

Today, it is hard to argue that human hunting is strictly necessary in the same way that hunting is necessary for animals. The objection from necessary harm holds that hunting is morally permissible only if it is necessary for the hunter's survival.

Is hunting positive or negative? ›

Unfortunately, modern hunting often gets a bad reputation. Many environmental and wildlife activists see it as a barbaric sport in which hunters kill for the sake of killing. The truth is, however, that hunting offers a lot of benefits for the environment, human health and wellness, and society in general.

Is deer hunting on the decline? ›

It really peaked, participation, in the 1980s at about 17 million people a year, which really meant just about 8-9 percent of the U.S. population hunted. But it's been in pretty steady decline since then.

What are some arguments against hunting for sport? ›

Hunting for sport is cruel. Hunting disrupts migration and hibernation patterns, decimates animal family units, and degrades habitats. Hunting dogs are sometimes are raised in horrible conditions. They may live at the ends of chains until hunting season begins.

Do deer really need to be hunted? ›

While hunting may seem like a cruel practice, it can be beneficial to both the environment and the deer population as a whole, if regulated properly. Despite killing individual deer, hunting is beneficial to the deer population because there is not enough food to sustain their current numbers.

What state has no deer? ›

White-tailed deer are found in every state in the U. S. except Alaska and in only small parts of Utah, Nevada and California. The mule deer range is primarily in western states.

What state kills the most deer each year? ›

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin record some of the highest antlered buck harvest rates in the country, with Pennsylvania topping the charts in 2021 with estimates of 145,320 harvested bucks.

Is the US overpopulated with deer? ›


So yes, there are too many deer, but why? The main cause is lack of predators. Cougars, wolves, mountain lions… they simply don't exist in the US in the numbers that they once did.

Will a deer kick if you miss? ›

A deer might bolt at the sound of a shot whether hit or missed but will generally react more quickly and violently to a hit. Any sort of erratic movement such as a stumble or leg kick might also indicate a hit. Behavior also can hint at location of impact.

Will a deer come back if you miss? ›

Some deer do return, although it might take a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months to do so. Other deer never return at all.

What state has the smallest bucks? ›

The Key deer is America's smallest deer and is found only in the lower Florida Keys, including at the National Key Deer Refuge. When Key deer were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967, there were fewer than 50 remaining in the wild. This was largely due to hunting and loss of habitat.

Which state hunts the most? ›

In 2021, the U.S. state with the highest number of hunting licenses, tags, permits, and stamps issued was Wisconsin, with over four million.

How often do hunters miss a deer? ›

Most hunters only took one shot at a second deer, but they often fired at least twice at the first deer. And whether they fired at one deer or two, over 50% of the hunters missed their first shot.


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