I’ve been an active member of the outdoor industry for about a year and a half. While I’ve hunted and fished my whole life, it wasn’t until I started Powderhook that I began to learn how the industry really worked. In my short time in the industry I’ve come to understand and deeply care about things like the North American Model of Conservation, R3 (Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation), license sales, and access. As I’ve traveled the country learning, meeting new people and discussing the future of the industry we love, I have been involved in dozens of conversations about the need to get people to actually go hunting and fishing. Most of those conversations have centered on the imperative for our industry to activate new people, especially young people.
Last week my wife, Stephanie, and I attended a dinner given to welcome new members to a local board on which I serve here in Lincoln, Nebraska. At the dinner we were seated next to Matt and Christie Hinrichs. Matt, an avid angler, and I quickly drummed up a fun conversation about walleyes and perch – all the usual things you talk about when you find out a friend is traveling to Devil’s Lake for some ice fishing. Christie, the CEO of Tabitha Health Care, a 1,200 employee care continuum for the elderly and their families (think nursing home on steroids), soon chimed in with a question. “Eric, do you guys ever do anything to get the elderly out fishing?”
Well, uhhhh, no.
I told Christie I would do some homework and get back to her. And, after a few hours of searching, I was able to find almost no fishing, hunting or shooting events designed specifically for seniors.
According to Census data there are currently about 41 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States. That number will continue to grow as baby boomers age and people continue to live longer, healthier lives. There are rational reasons our industry has chosen not to focus on seniors. According to US Fish and Wildlife data, hunting license sales fall off dramatically after the age of 65. In some states seniors don’t have to buy fishing licenses and many states discount senior licenses.
In the past two decades the population of the United States has grown over 22 percent, while the total number of hunting and angling participants has declined around 2 percent. In a time when the outdoor industry is looking for new ways to activate lapsed hunters, anglers, and shooters, maybe it’s time to turn some attention toward the elders among us.
Seniors may come with a unique set of considerations for our industry, from access challenges to fees on fixed incomes, but according to Christie, events and outings for seniors would be very well received. In fact, she said we’d be lucky if we could keep up with the demand. Matt was eager to help put one together, so we’re going to try and get something on the books here in Nebraska.
Has your group or organization ever done an event for seniors? If so, will you tell us about it? If not, would you consider it? If you do end up putting something together, would you let us know how it goes?
About the author:
Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook.com, a website built to help people find access to hunting and fishing spots, trips, groups and events. He can be reached at email@example.com.