Michigan sees 95% increase in new hunters since March

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MLive file photo (Nic Antaya | MLive.com)

LANSING, MICH. — Michigan is seeing its biggest spike in new hunters in at least two decades.

Hunting license sales for first-time hunters have surged 95% since March, echoing a national trend that’s led more people to pursue outdoor recreation as a safe, socially distant option for activity during the pandemic.

“We have seen a record increase in license sales that we haven’t seen in 20 years,” Shannon Lott, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said in a release. “This is definitely the year that everyone wants to get outside.”

The DNR reports that 440,780 people purchased a hunting license through Oct. 12. More than 64,000 of those buyers were first-time hunters — 31,000 more new hunters than at the same point last year. Women and youth hunters are among the demographic groups propelling that increase. People ages 10-16 drove a 144% increase in license sales across all hunting species, while the number of female hunters has risen nearly 25%.

Michiganders also bought 9% more fishing licenses this year, with the total number of new anglers rising 42%, said Dustin Isenhoff, DNR marketing specialist.

These numbers are a sharp contrast to a downward trend in hunting license sales both in state and nationwide over the past several decades, as baby-boomers are spending less time hunting, and younger generations opt not to pursue the sport.

But this year, all types of outdoor recreation got a boost. Parks and trails across the state have been reporting record visitor numbers, as camping, hiking, bird-watching and kayaking joined hunting and fishing on the list of activities enjoying a sudden surge in popularity.

The DNR and sporting groups are thrilled by Michigan’s new interest in hunting and fishing and are considering ways to encourage participation in the years to come, Isenhoff said.

In Michigan, hunting license sales generate about $61 million annually for wildlife and natural resources conservation projects, with an additional $32 million coming from a federal levy on hunting and fishing equipment sales, according to the Michigan Wildlife Council.

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Scott Chapman Moves Up to President Elect at May Board Meeting

Scott Chapman Moves Up to President Elect at May Board Meeting

The SCI board of directors meeting was held on May 9-11 in Washington, DC.  The Flint chapter was represented by President Dennis Peters, Vice President George Peterman, SCI President Elect, Scott (and Angela) Chapman, and Regional Representative Neal (and Debbie) Porter.

Day 1 was Lobby Day.

Day 2 was committee meeting day with all of the SCI sub committees holding meetings and work sessions.  The Audit Committee (Louis Cole, Chairman) gave several presentations throughout the day.  The committee is now monitoring and analyzing chapters’ 30% contributions from fundraisers.  Recommendations are being made to chapters, regional representatives and the Chapter Service Specialists to increase fundraisers’ net income and insure proper compliance with SCI and the IRS.  The Finance Committee (Neal Porter is a member) had a portfolio review with manager, BNY, and has RFP’s out as they monitor investments.  The Finance Committee also made a recommendation to the board to purchase the SCI intellectual property from SCIF for $731,000.  The Communications Committee is reviewing RFP’s for a new communications plan.

The SCIPAC Dinner on Friday night featured the Alaskan legend, Congressman Don Young as guest speaker and honored Michigan Representative, Triston Cole as the state legislator of the year.  Triston was introduced by Scott Chapman, who recalled a memorable winter camping trip in the Jordan River Valley Triston Cole’s district) during his college days.  Mr. Cole was also the SCI Flint legislator of the year!

Day 3 was the official board meeting and the annual elections were held during the meeting.  Paul Babaz passed the President’s Pin on to Steve Skold.  Scott Chapman moved up from Deputy President Elect to President Elect.  He will be the first president of SCI from the Flint Chapter.  Another Flint (and Lansing) member, Mike Leonard was elected to SCI VP, along with Sven Lindquist, Jeff Kimble, Lew Webb, and Mike Crawford.  John McClaurin was elected to the position of Corporate Secretary and Mid-Michigan Chapter past president Don Harter was elected to Treasurer.  The SCI BOD committed to purchase the Intellectual property from SCIF.

Laird Hamberlin was introduced as the new CEO of Safari Club International.  Laird is a former VP of SCI and has an outstanding resume of business accomplishments.  He also hunts as often as time and family commitments permit.  Laird spoke about the three pillars of SCI- membership, convention, and advocacy.  We need each one to support our mission and we must focus on each one.  Laird also discussed our communications and media presence or lack thereof- it will be a major point of emphasis moving forward.