Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hunting as a (multi-dimensional) rural livelihood

Blake Farmer of Public Radio's Marketplace reports today from Tennessee about hunting, which he says once was a way to feed your family but now is more a sport for the affluent.  This is interesting --and I would suggest, "wrong"--because I am convinced that many rural folks --especially low-to-modest means folks--still use hunting and fishing to feed their families, not merely for recreation.  (This was a significant theme of my article here, as it explored the disconnect b/w working class and middle class/professional/managerial class --or b/w rural and urban).   Here is a salient except from Farmer's story, "Amid Urbanization and Expense, Hunting Declines as a Hobby":
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife data, the number of licensed hunters is down from a high point of nearly 17 million in the early 1980s to roughly 15 million today. The national drop has come over a period that the country has grown by nearly 100 million people, meaning the percentage of Americans who hunt is down considerably. 
Still, Konyndyk's state of Tennessee is near its all-time high with 717,000 permitted hunters, and the participation rates vary widely by region. Census data from 2010 finds that hunting is most popular in the East South Central region, which includes Tennessee and Kentucky, where 11 percent of the population claims to hunt. In the Pacific region, however, just 3 percent told Census takers that they hunt.
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The headwinds against hunting are pretty simple: An industry analysis from IBISWorld published this year says that as the country continues to urbanize, exposure to hunting becomes more limited, and more people see the activity in a negative light.
As this excerpt highlights, Farmer arguably misses an important point.  Hobby be damned.  Hunting is still very much about livelihoods for many people in this country.  Sadly, those folks remains invisible, forgotten, unseen, so that Farmer is only talking about "hobbies" and hobbyists.

This reminds me of how commentators like Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd ridiculed Sarah Palin for hunting, one of them commenting that she "eviscerat[ed] animals for fun."  These New York Times columnists were oblivious to the fact--or simply didn't care--that they were also ridiculing folks who hunt to feed their families, who hunt as a livelihood/provision strategy.   Read more here on that theme.

See one of my former student's posts about how hunting regulations evince metro centrism here and another's posts on children and guns here. Some other former posts about hunting are here and here.  

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