This is a sad day for me, as yet another hunting magazine goes down.
F+W Media, publisher of Deer & Deer Hunting and 50-some other magazines, is liquidating. The New York-based publishing house, which has been in business for 100 years, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers on March 10.
According to the filing, the company has seen magazine subscriptions drop from 33.4 million in 2015 to 21.5 million in 2018. Advertising revenues decreased from $20.7 million in 2015 to $13.7 million.
The company’s CEO summed it up: “Over the past decade, the market for subscription print periodicals of all kinds, including those published by the company, has been in decline as an increasing amount of content has become available electronically at little or no cost to readers.”
Yes, and all of us in the outdoor media, from small bloggers like me to the largest publishing houses still in business, are still, after many uncertain years, trying to figure it out. There is so much free content out there, and so much more written and video content coming online every minute of every day.
How to compete? How to stay relevant? How to scratch by and make a living? A profit?
F+W Media hopes to sell off its magazine and book divisions, or else Deer and Deer Hunting and the company’s other print/digital titles will cease to exist.
Investing in print media is risky (understatement of the year) but my hope is that one of the few large outdoor-lifestyle publishers left—say the publishers of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life—would take a chance on a strong “vertical” brand like Deer and Deer Hunting and add it to their lineup. This one deer magazine is all any outdoor publisher would want.
Deer hunting and whitetail in particular dominate and drive the entire hunting industry. If not for deer and those of us that hunt them, there would be no hunting media of any kind.
Surely there is a way for a print publisher to figure it out, and peddle enough advertising targeted to America’s 10 million deer hunters to keep 6 issues of Deer and Deer Hunting on the shelves, and a digital version on our devices 24/7/365.
The recent bomb cyclone combined with spring snowmelt has swelled some Midwest rivers to record levels and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes. The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared emergencies. Some of the water-logged areas are bracing for more rain this week.
How will all this flooding affect whitetail deer in the region?
Biologists say that rising floodwaters of river and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and weeks. But the deer will eventually filter back into their habitats once the waters recede.
Good news is that pregnant does will move out of rising water now and for the next few weeks. The primary concern for deer herds in and around flood zones is later on in May and June, when the does start dropping fawns.
“But fawn survival in flood plains is typically very high, even during flood years,” says noted whitetail scientist Grant Woods. “To cause any significant problems in a herd, the water levels would have to rise very rapidly and be timed when the peak of fawn births occur, and before the fawns are mobile. This is a relatively narrow window of time. Rivers rarely rise that quickly, and does are excellent mothers.”
One concern, though, is how the current Midwestern flooding might wash away and/or flatten preferred fawning cover for later on this spring. “If does are forced to fawn in fields or woods where there isn’t as much cover as usual, coyote predation on the fawns can increase,” says Grant.
The cumulative effects of the bomb cyclone, snowmelt and flooding later on this spring could impact fawning cover in some areas, but that remains to be seen.
Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) has announced it will remove firearms and other hunting gear from about 125 stores. The change, expected to begin August 1, will affect about 17 percent of the company’s stores.
The announcement, coupled with continuing declines in sales since 2017 (adjusted same-store sales were down 3.1% last year) lead to a 11 percent decline in stock price yesterday. Dick’s closed at $34.45 on the NYSE, down $4.28/share.
Dick’s CEO and major shareholder Ed Stack told the media that if the 125-store move “goes well” the company may remove hunting gear from more stores next year.
According to the Outdoor Wire, Stack was one of four CEOs to sign a letter supporting a gun control bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also joined the business council of Everytown, the nonprofit organization founded by Michael Bloomberg that advocates for gun control.
It’s more obvious than ever that if you are a law-abiding gun owner and hunter, Dick’s does not want your business. I for one have vowed to never step foot or spend another penny in a Dick’s store again.