Article published Oct 9, 2005
The Associated Press
Just a few years ago, Donna Batten couldn't have imagined herself
shooting a deer. Now she looks forward to fall afternoons when she can
sit in a deer stand with her 10-year-old son and hunt deer.
Batten hasn't had a complete change of heart - her son Michael
Robert Jr. is always the one with the shotgun - but she decided to
take her son hunting near their Selma home when he talked of hunting
by himself in the future.
"I'm doing this for him," Batten said. "Two years ago, I can say, I
was against anyone killing a deer. But the deer around here have
gotten dangerously abundant. ... I've almost had wrecks."
Many advocates for the sport believe hunting is a troubled
tradition and hope for more attitudes like Batten's. Spreading urban
areas have transformed many hunting grounds into neighborhoods and
shopping malls, forcing teenagers to rely on adults to drive them
miles from their homes in the hunt of wild turkeys, foxes, bears and
The number of licenses for hunting big game and other wildlife is
on the decline nationally, dropping to 14.7 million in 2003 from 16.4
million in 1983, according to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.
North Carolina's numbers are also down, with the state issuing 304,833
hunting licenses last year compared to 380,851 in 1994.
The state has 2 million acres of public and private land managed by
the state Wildlife Resources Commission for public hunting, trapping
"We're competing for our young people with so many other
activities," said Chuck Bennett, a wildlife commission member.
"There's sort of a small window in there, by about age 13, that if we
don't get our young people interested in hunting and fishing, we lose
This week, the National Shooting Foundation and Wildlife Resources
Commission will hold a seminar in New Bern to discuss ways to recruit
more women, minorities and families to the sport. And advocates hope
those kinds of efforts will bring more children to the sport.
"When you talk about recruiting the youth, you have to recruit the
parents," said John Pechmann, chairman of the state's wildlife
Bobby Purcell, executive director of the Wolfpack Club and a member
of the state wildlife commission, is one who uses hunting as a way to
connect with his teenage son, John. He's on the road a lot for his job
as North Carolina State University's chief athletics booster, but said
he reserves a handful of weekends each year for hunting.
"One of the things I really enjoy about taking my son out is he
gets to appreciate what God gave us and how beautiful our nature is,
and learn more about protection and conservation," Purcell said. "It's
not all about just hunting. It's more about nature and respecting
nature and conserving nature."
That's a common refrain from hunters, who downplay the bloodiness
of the sport and talk instead of helping manage wildlife populations.
Chris Moorman, an assistant forestry professor at NCSU and an
extension wildlife specialist, said hunting helps society stay in
touch with its surroundings.
"If hunting were to die out," he said, "kids would lose their tie,
their connection, to the land that they historically have had in North
Information from: The News & Observer