His premise rings uncomfortably true:
"A succession of reports has provided hunters with convenient culprits for our demise, things such as 'lack of access' to public hunting lands, cost of hunting, less game, single-parent households, restrictive rules and regulations, etc., etc. and etc.
"But over the years, some doubts began building in the back of my mind. While hunting was declining, other leisure time activities that required hunting-size investments of time, money and travel were growing. In my own community, people who had stopped hunting were buying season tickets to pro and college sports seasons, spending entire weekends tailgating, traveling to distant theme parks and roaming the country as soccer, gymnastics and baseball parents."
He cites a chat with friends in his duck club for further clues to what may be, Nintendo notwithstanding, at the root of the problem:
"Two friends who had dedicated much of their lives to preserving the waterfowling tradition were upset because their state would not allow their children to become hunter-education qualified completely online.
"'You have to attend in person,' they complained, 'and that takes an entire weekend.' I responded, 'So, isn't that how it's always been? Isn't that part of the traditional commitment for serious, ethical hunters?'
"They looked at me like I'd just parachuted from the moon. Their kids couldn't go a full weekend because of 'other commitments.' The soccer (or swimming, gymnastics, track, you name it) coach would bench them for missing practice or a game. They would become a pariah at school.
"The debate came down to this: My friends felt "government" was forcing their kids out of hunting. I felt they were choosing to take their kids out of hunting, or at least letting them opt out."
In my own version of the story, government has less to do with limiting opportunities for new hunters to enter the sport; my personal whipping boys are television and air conditioning and the multitude of little plastic items that seem disproportionately fascinating.
But to my embarrassment and frank puzzlement, I know I'm also at fault. As parent, perhaps the blame is entirely mine: My own children, though capable now and not-disinterested in joining me in the field, are deeply engaged in extra-curricular activity of the entirely conventional modern kind.