Hunting, fishing not so different
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Media contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943
Looking around the office, or even at my group of friends, it’s easy to see that the number of those who fish greatly outweighs the number of those who hunt. The numbers prove it. Florida has more than 3.6 million anglers (freshwater and saltwater) and only 242,000 hunters (both numbers include residents and nonresidents age 16 and over).
One could ponder the discrepancy all day. Maybe buying a fishing pole is less expensive than purchasing a firearm (for the most part). Or maybe it is because you can catch a fish and put it back in the water to live another day. Then there is all the walking about in the woods with the ticks and the ankle-turning holes. But what I’ve most recently learned is, even while there are differences, there are also quite a few similarities.
I’ve been fishing all my life, and while I’ve always wanted to hunt, the opportunity never presented itself. That was until this October, when I was afforded the chance to attend the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow workshop in Mansfield, Ga. At this weeklong event, I learned how to hunt, trap and fire a shotgun and, I feel, become a better-rounded Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) employee.
Amanda Nalley and hunting partner, Berkeley Boone, with their take: two pheasants.
(Click on photo for larger image.)
But the most important thing I learned is that, while hunting and fishing have their differences, the emotion is the same. The idea of hunting, just like fishing, often conveys imagery of a peaceful outdoor experience, of bonding with nature. Maybe, for you, it is spending quality time with a friend, be it a two-legged or four-legged one, out in the woods or on a dock. The joy and excitement of the moment when that game bird flew into view was the same as when I’ve felt a tug on the fishing line. And then there is the pride in being able to provide a meal for one’s family. Reliving that experience via photos or stories is just as exciting when it is a prized sport fish or large bass as when it is a trophy buck.
Fish and game have other similarities as well. Both are active during the same times of day and are affected by the moon phase. You have your big game (deer, wild hog, tarpon, shark) and your small game (squirrels, rabbits, flounder, baitfish), and even your medium-sized and tasty game (turkey, red drum).
Gear varies as does expertise using that gear (shotguns, rifles, bow, fly fishing, spinning rods, cast nets). And with more than 160 wildlife management areas encompassing 5.8 million acres (one of the largest public-hunting systems in the country), 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals and 7,700 lakes greater than 10 acres, the opportunities to recreate abound.
And as more youth turn to indoor activities such as social media and electronic games and more families spend less time outdoors, both activities are threatened with a potential decrease in participation. This is when it is more important than ever to expand your recreational horizons and introduce yourself, or others, to outdoor recreation. Without hunters and fishers, we lose a big chunk of Florida’s most dedicated conservationists.
Get involved with your local Florida Youth Conservation Center (FYCCN.org) partner and help get kids interested in fishing and hunting in Florida. If you too are a lifetime fisher who has always wanted to go hunting, it is not too late to learn a new skill. The FWC offers several programs on hunting and fishing, including safety and education programs, youth and family hunting opportunities, kids’ fishing clinics and more.
Learn more about hunting and fishing in Florida by visiting MyFWC.com.