More East Texans hunting, fishing for food

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 10:21 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - As hunting seasons start opening up in East Texas, many are looking at the necessity of hunting and fishing as opposed to just a past time, seeing where the economy and food prices are.

Places like Sportsman’s Outfitters and Academy are seeing lots of business from regular and new customers who are getting active in hunting and fishing.

“We see a big influx of that happening this time of year. To see these little kids come in and say they caught their first bluegill or first crappie, hey look what I caught! That’s what makes it worthwhile right there,” says Randy Smiley of Academy in Tyler.

“It’s very rewarding after you do harvest your animals, and it’s what a lot of people are starting to lean to,” says Rainie Tucker of Sportsman’s Outfitters in Longview.

The reason they believe is something we can all connect to.

“Provide food. What a great way to provide food for the home,” Smiley says.

“You can go out and catch your own fish, don’t have to buy it. Always a useful skill, that way you don’t have to grocery shop as much,” says fisherman Austin Sanchez.

Statistically over decades, the number of hunters had steadily dwindled across the country.

That’s led to a loss of conservation funding at state wildlife agencies, which largely rely on license fee sales to support their budgets.

“Some people don’t have a lot of money right now so they say what’s the entry level? How can I get started?” says Smiley.

In 2020, largely because of the pandemic, wildlife officials in nearly every state reported moderate-to-massive spike in hunting.