Here's the story. And an interesting tidbit:
I don't know about the rest of the country, but in Utah, the decline was all but mandated by law, not urbanization. I'm not an avid hunter though I do hunt elk on occasion, I'm not well schooled in Utah hunting laws, but here's what I do know:
The primary reasons, experts say, are the loss of hunting land to urbanization plus a perception by many families that they can't afford the time or costs that hunting entails."To recruit new hunters, it takes hunting families," said Gregg Patterson of Ducks Unlimited. [...]
"People grew up hunting — you went out with your family, your uncle. And now you go back, and there's a shopping plaza or a housing development. Some of your favorite places just aren't available anymore."
For big game, we now only have 5 days to rifle hunt deer, and you have to draw out for it, so there's a possibility you wont even get to hunt. As far as elk, you only have five days as well, you can't hunt the bulls unless you get lucky and draw out with a once in a blue moon tag (possibly 'once in a lifetime'), so most resort to the over-the-counter spike tag. As for cow elk hunting, it's also a drawing. As for antelope, good luck drawing out there. I know you can hunt cow moose, but only 63 permits were given out in 2006. And I think you'd have to be the governor or Bill Gates to hunt Big Horn Sheep.
You also have to draw out for bear, lion, and I just don't know about bobcat or lynx.
When it comes to small game, it's easy to get a permit, but there are limits to what you can bag.
And Prairie Dogs. Another reason why hunting is in decline, at least in Utah might be because our father-son target practicing pastime has been restricted. This law is based on grossly underestimated figures. I could count over 4,000 in the very small town of La Sal in an area no larger than 1000 acres. The prairie dog is one of the only animals credited with destroying land more than cattle, while infecting wildlife with disease, and more of a nuisance to farmers and ranchers than coyotes.
Granted, there are good reasons for restricting certain hunts, for population and disease control to name a few. But I don't understand why hunting is increasingly being restricted, while the numbers of hunters and poachers are way down compared to the days of lax hunting restrictions.