What are the Biggest Threats to Bowhunting?

Do you fear the squirrel squeezers?

We all know our hunting heritage is under constant scrutiny and attack. But what is the real threat? Who, or what, should we fear first and foremost? Anti-hunting organizations like PETA and HSUS?

Take the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for example. They have so badly mismanaged their movement with such idiotic PR campaigns that they've left the general public with the not-so-off-base impression that most animal-rights advocates are nut jobs.

After all, they do claim animals have rights, which is, of course, ludicrous. When a coyote rips the head off a squealing rabbit, does it first consider the rabbit's rights? When a black bear dines on a half-dead elk calf, can the calf's mother file a wrongful death lawsuit? Just exactly how do animals exercise their rights?


The "flower sniffer" movement is also rife with hypocrisy. They rail about porpoises getting caught in tuna nets but nothing is said about the poor tuna. They champion the cute, brown-eyed deer; the fuzzy, white polar bear; and the mystical wolf but care nothing about rats, bats, snakes, and mosquitoes. Do they believe there's a tier system when it comes to rights? Does a bull moose have more rights than a bull mouse?


Then you have the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that has callously ripped off the trademark of the "real" Humane Society (the one that focuses on the welfare of dogs and cats). Few realize these are two very different organizations. If I had Bill Gates' money I'd help the real Humane Society fund a trademark lawsuit against HSUS, the world's largest anti-hunting organization. This group bilks the uninformed masses but doesn't spend that money "on the ground," where animals need it. Instead, it's spent on useless ad campaigns and even on research into the use of contraception to control whitetail deer populations.


What? An animal-rights organization is intentionally depriving a brown-eyed doe of the wonderful joys of motherhood — against her will? It's the height of hypocrisy.

Truth is, animals don't have rights, but they do deserve to be treated with respect. I have great respect for elk, both when they're bugling on a frosty September morning and when they're sizzling on my grill.

The primary goal of animal-rights organizations is to take hunting away from us. They have learned to use the courts to stand in our way so they should be closely watched and aggressively opposed, but they should not be feared.


What I do fear is far more insidious than the anti-hunting movement. I believe the greatest threat to all hunting is declining access to hunting land. The well-to-do hunter will always have a place to hunt because he'll pay for it by leasing or buying land, or hiring an outfitter who has done that for him. It's the vast majority of hunters, the blue-collar types, who bear the brunt of this problem. A father who just wants to take his two sons out pheasant hunting for a couple weekends is often met with nothing but posted signs or having to pay an access fee. If it's too much for him, he gives up, sells his shotguns, and we lose him and his sons as fellow hunters, likely forever.

No type of hunting is immune to this threat. The vast majority of bowhunters depend on gaining access to private land. This is especially true from the East to the Midwest because of the lack of public land. In the West, where public land is abundant, you can find a place to hunt, but you'll have lots of company.

To make matters worse, leasing is rampant. Outfitters are leasing prime properties, and hunters who never dreamed of leasing land are now doing so in self-defense. Others are even buying land, but most of us are left out.


There's no singular solution to the access problem. However, I believe one of the most effective solutions is for state wildlife agencies to develop land access programs. A good example is Montana's Block Management Program, which compensates landowners for allowing hunters to access their property. A few other states have similar programs (see Dave Samuel's article on page 14), but those that don't need to get on board in a big way. Why? Because as it is now, hunters gladly pay for the wildlife management that all citizens enjoy. If hunters go away, the general public will have to assume that burden with their tax dollars. That, or those state agencies will go away.

You might say you're getting your share of hunting done, but what about your sons and daughters? Or your grandchildren? If they can't find a place to hunt, they'll barely have a reason to look up from their computer screens.

If you're looking for something to fear, that should be it.

Recommended for You

From the street carts of Mexico City to your hands – you're going to love every bite of this venison carnitas recipe! Recipes

Mexican-Spiced Venison Carnitas Recipe

Robert Sweeney

From the street carts of Mexico City to your hands – you're going to love every bite of...

Stabilization can be a crucial factor in that moment of truth while bowhunting. Here are the best new stabilizer options from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

New Bow Stabilizers for 2019

Colton Bailey - January 10, 2019

Stabilization can be a crucial factor in that moment of truth while bowhunting. Here are the...

Adding a dash of cardamom to the cranberry-mint sauce gives this smoked moose roast recipe a savory-sweet taste. Recipes

Smoked Moose Roast with Cranberry-Mint Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Adding a dash of cardamom to the cranberry-mint sauce gives this smoked moose roast recipe a...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt in a truly target-rich environment.

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist sets up shop for a turkey hunt in Kansas.

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist witnesses a hen trying to destroy one of his decoys while hunting turkeys in Kansas.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when choosing heavy vs. light arrows for bowhunting. How-To

How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light

Curt Wells

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when...

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort. How-To

Tree Saddle Hunting — Demo Climb With Aider

Mike Carney - June 07, 2019

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort.

Advances in rangefinding devices have helped bowhunters immensely. Scouting Tools

Advancements in Rangefinder Technology Through the Years

Chuck Adams

Advances in rangefinding devices have helped bowhunters immensely.

See More Stories

More Conservation

          Bear numbers grow, deer rules change, and school kids thrive on archery.    By Dr. Dave Conservation

The State of Bears 2010

Dr. Dave Samuel - November 04, 2010

Bear numbers grow, deer rules change, and school kids thrive on archery. By Dr....

          While hunting potential blossoms in The Garden State, nonresident hunting may wither in Conservation

Black Bear Hunting In The Garden State

February 04, 2011

While hunting potential blossoms in The Garden State, nonresident hunting may wither...

Are predators such as coyotes negatively affecting our deer herds? In an article in the February Conservation

Eastern Coyotes: How Predators Affect Deer Herds

C. J. Winand - June 06, 2013

Are predators such as coyotes negatively affecting our deer herds? In an article in the...

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.