column By: Compiled by Tom Keer | June, 17
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized plans for the creation of the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge in New England and eastern New York. The refuge joins 565 other national wildlife refuges spanning some 150 million acres.
The refuge represents a large-scale effort that will make a difference for American woodcock, ruffed grouse, New England cottontails, monarch butterflies and other wildlife.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) was a driving factor for creating awareness within the sporting community. According to Tim Brass, BHA’s State Policy Director, “Wildlife refuges have been perceived as a ‘don’t touch’ environment which is not true. They’re meant to be used and enjoyed for a wide variety of outdoor recreational uses, and in this instance, upland bird hunters who target ruffed grouse and American woodcock as well as small game hunters who pursue rabbits and squirrels received a big win.”
For more information: www.fws.gov/northeast/refuges/planning/lpp/greatthicketLPP.html.
Throughout the U.S. more and more women are headed afield in pursuit of wild game.
Maggie Lindsey, the Education Services Coordinator with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says, “Our women’s hunting programs are hugely popular and fill up right away. We always have a demand for more, so that tells me that there’s a population that’s hungry to learn to hunt.”
License purchase data for 2016 show that 10 percent of South Dakota’s residential hunting licenses were purchased by women, double the number from 2006. Alaska reflects a similar trend. Resident hunting licenses purchased by women have increased to 21.6 percent. In Pennsylvania, 96,555 women purchased hunting licenses for the 2015-2016 hunting season, a 44 percent increase since the 2009-2010 season. The National Sporting Goods Association has found 19 percent of U.S. hunters, 3.3 million, are women.
According the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the number of women target shooters increased 60 percent – from 3.3 million to 5.4 million – during the 12-year span from 2001 to 2013. The mission of the group Shoot Like a Girl (SLG) is to grow those numbers even more by empowering women to participate in such activities with confidence. Since the company was founded in 2008, it has and continues to achieve that goal.
One way it does that is through its state-of-the art mobile shooting range, a 52-foot long semi-trailer. Inside, specially constructed shooting areas allow visitors to try shooting a handgun, a rifle and a compound bow.
SLG’s founder and president Karen Butler realized that although women are the fastest growing demographic in shooting sports, there were still factors that limited their involvement; primarily, the opportunity for women to try equipment that fits in a safe and controlled environment. Along with help from corporate sponsors, SLG has been able to hit the road with the mobile range. The range travels to events throughout the country where there are a lot of women spectators but not necessarily a lot of participants, like hunting shows, conservation shows and shooting sports tournaments.
Based on the 2,539 clients who participated in range activities in 2016, SLG says 90 percent committed to purchasing a firearm, 56 percent committed to purchasing a bow, 8 percent hunted for the first time and 55 percent are now more active in shooting sports.
For more info: www.shootlikeagirl.com.
Established by Governor Sam Brownback in 2011, The Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic fulfills his campaign initiative to draw regional and national attention to hunting tourism in the state. This hunting event has rotated to several rural northwestern communities.
The Classic is a four-day event of approximately 80 hunters comprised of sponsors, guests of the governor, youth hunters, past alumni hunt participants and, to date, over 50 active, retired and wounded veterans from the U.S. armed forces. Ongoing partnerships have been formed with Pheasants and Quail Forever, Freedom Hunters, Pass It On, Ruffed Grouse Society, Kansas One Shot Turkey Hunt and the National Wildlife Turkey Federation.
The Classic has generated more than $250,000 for local beneficiaries, youth, its partners’ support of conservation efforts and the Northwest Kansas Conservation Foundation, created by the Classic. The Foundation awards an annual college scholarship and works with Pheasants Forever (PF) to establish permanent conservation easements in the geographical area and to provide financial support for a PF wildlife biologist. Participating youth hunters have been awarded lifetime PF memberships and Kansas lifetime hunting licenses.
For more info: kansasringneckclassic.com.