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VA – HUNTING – 2020 wasn’t all bad from an outdoor enthusiast’s perspective

Goodbye 2020. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. It was, in several ways, a paradoxical year. Many people, especially small business owners, suffered greatly during the lockdowns and restrictions imposed in the name of virus control. Others suffered physically and emotionally. Plenty of us had friends or loved ones fall ill from COVID-19. We lost some great people. The year saw long-planned trips canceled due to travel bans, especially earlier in the year. Bucket-list hunts and outdoor expeditions were postponed. Outfitters and guides in distant places are wondering if they can recover from the lost business. Since I am not a city dweller, I don’t have the best personal appreciation for how some of 2020’s extremes affected urban life. What I saw in the newspaper and on the internet, between the virus impacts and incredible social unrest and destruction, wasn’t pretty. The restrictions created additional free time for many Americans—except for medical professionals, first responders, delivery drivers and other “essential” workers. These people rightly feel worn out, like they’ve been run through the gristmill, forward and backward. Then again, most people are pandemic frayed and politics pummeled. Country folks I know seem to have endured fairly well. Ready access to the outdoors, the woods and waters, always has therapeutic value. In 2020, this value was multiplied. One reflection of that was the incredible increase in license sales for hunting and fishing across much of the nation. The pewtrusts.org website recently noted significant increases. Michigan, for example, was up 67 percent in new hunting license buyers compared with 2019. The state also sold 46 percent more apprentice licenses, similar to the licenses Virginia offers novice hunters. Nevada had a 30-percent increase. Maine sold a record number of deer permits. Young adults and women drove the spike. First-time hunting and fishing license buyers in Idaho increased by 28 percent. “Super Combo” licenses that include hunting and fishing increased 7 percent in Texas. In Virginia, resident hunting license sales were up 18.4 percent, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Nonresident sales increased 5.6 percent. In terms of new hunters, resident apprentice hunter sales rose a whopping 36.8 percent and resident junior licenses 11.1 percent. Fishing license sales also climbed 26 percent overall. New hunters, especially women, are giving it a try.  [full article]

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