A generation or two ago, most of us got our hunting start by chasing rabbits, squirrels and upland gamebirds. Today, however, most young hunters skip small game and go straight to deer. As a result, small game hunting in states like Michigan is slowly but surely fading out of the public consciousnesses.

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Michigan’s small game hunting seasons have opened, a date that once brought hoards of hunters to the woods. But state officials expect fewer to be hunting this season. Small game hunting is not as popular as it was once. Small game hunting license sales have declined steadily by 2 percent a year on average since the mid-1950s. Hunters bought 256,177 small game licenses in 2011, down 1.9 percent from 2010 when 261,000 purchased them.

“It’s a long-term trend,” said Brian Frawley, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources biologist who analyzes hunting participation. “It reflects the changing popularity of those species.”

According to the story, 90 percent of Michigan’s hunters now go after deer rather than small game. It brings up an interesting question: when was the last time you shot a rabbit or squirrel? A year, five years, a decade or more? Does Michigan’s trend hold true for your state, too?