There is a new generation interested in the outdoors, but they aren’t getting there the way the generation before did.
Deer hunting is still an interest, but because of the cost, time and the relative inactivity of sitting in a blind it isn’t as appealing as duck hunting where the conditions can be extreme, the action intense and the toys attractive.
Today’s newcomers would love quail hunting, if it was a viable option.
The same can be said for fishing. It is one thing to throw out a worm and work it back to the boat. It is another to cast a fly at a bass on a local lake one day, at trout in Arkansas, Oklahoma or New Mexico another and then travel to the coast to challenge redfish on still another.
This isn’t your granddaddy’s outdoors anymore, and while traditional hunting and fishing is in no danger of going away, it certainly won’t look the same down the road.
The good news is that young people are returning to outdoor activities. After a lost generation some are taking up hunting. Others are going fish or experiencing state and national parks. And they are putting their own twist on it.
For example, instead of being content to sit and watch the embers from a fire, young visitors to Tyler State Park are more likely to bring a bike and hit the 13 miles of trails carved through the woods. With runs geared to everyone from beginners to the experienced, the park’s bike trails have become a popular draw.
Fishermen are also discovering catfish fishing, but if you expect them to bait a trotline and head for the house, you better think again. They are going to be out in the bitter cold chasing trophy blue catfish. For some, the other option is to wait until early spring and noodle the spawning holes on areas lakes and rivers.
In both cases it wasn’t the 20-somethings that invented the sport, they have just adopted it for the thrill and improved it.
Money, or the lack of it, may be part of the reason some young hunters are shying away from deer hunting. What it might cost for a year on a deer lease they can invest in a dog, decoys, waders and even part of a boat and duck hunt for years.
Besides, shooting a box of shells a day is a lot more fun than shooting two rounds a season.
That may explain to some degree the popularity of semi-automatic sporting rifles for pigs and the increased range activity. Whether they are shooting paper targets or pumpkins they are getting a lot more use out of their guns.
Plus in deer hunting hunters are usually anchored to one ranch year after year. Duck hunters, and other bird hunters, are going to be on the road, hunting one spot one day and another the next. Plus, if they want to cross state lines to hunt it is cheaper and easier. A Texas hunter can hunt ducks all season in Arkansas for $80. It would cost $100 for a three-day deer hunt.
Destination trips are also popular for younger fishermen. They can travel anywhere in the U.S., or out of the country, a lot easier and cheaper with a rod than they with a gun.
Today’s younger fishermen may also go simple and fish one of the trout stockings around the state this winter, but instead of marshmallows under a bobber they are probably going to be fly fishing.
They may carry on through the white bass run and even try their luck with largemouth bass or hybrid striped bass before heading to the coast or the mountains later in the year.
It is a little like a truck of today versus one from the 1950s. The one from the 1950s had all you needed to get you down and back. Just try selling those beasts to today’s drivers.
While fly fishing would seem like a natural for those looking for action, there are a couple of drawbacks. One is the perception that gear is expensive. It is not. Today good rigs like Temple Fork cost about what a good bait casting rig would cost.
Another issue is learning how to fish. There are more guides with fly fishing backgrounds now, but there are also classes like the ones Dallas Fly Fishers will be offering at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens on March 8.
Instruction at the free class will include fly-tying, learning about fly-fishing equipment, performing the basic four-part cast and useful knots.
Space is limited for both the morning and afternoon sessions, so early registration is necessary by email@example.com or by calling (903) 676-2277. Participants will be required to pay regular entry fees to TFFC.
Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at TylerPaper Outdoors and on Twitter @tyleroutdoor.