Hunter Numbers On The Rise?

August 15, 2012

It’s been a slow week, and I haven’t had a lot of particular import to write about… so I left the page blank for a couple of days.  However, earlier today I caught a press release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that offered a glimmer of good news.  It looks like the steady decline of hunters in the US may have stalled or even turned around since 2006.  The news is based on a preliminary report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  The final report is due out in November, and should include state-by-state numbers, as well as the national count.

Here’s the press release:

MISSOULA, Mont.—A new report that shows more people are hunting is good news for conservation, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The just-released 2011 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older, went hunting last year. That marks a 9 percent increase over 2006, reversing a previous downward trend.

“This is great news for everyone in the hunting and conservation community,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “But it’s even better news for our conservation efforts to protect and improve habitat for elk and other wildlife. We strongly believe that hunting is conservation. This is also a reflection of the importance of our hunting legacy of the past and our hunting heritage as we look to the future.”

Thanks to hunter-generated dollars, RMEF protected or enhanced more than 6.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. RMEF also recently added “hunting heritage” to its mission statement, reaffirming a commitment to ensuring a future for wildlife conservation through hunter-based support.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service data show hunters spent $34 billion last year on equipment, licenses, trips and other items to support their hunting activities. If you break down the numbers, sportsmen and women spent $10.4 billion on trip-related expenditures, $14 billion on equipment such as guns, camping items and 4-wheel drives, and $9.6 billion on licenses, land leasing and ownership and stamps.

“The more hunters spend on firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows and hunting licenses and permits, the more money is generated to provide the necessary funding for successful science-based wildlife management across the United States,” added Allen.

Here are some brief highlights from the report:

  • 13.7 million hunters in 2011 compared to 12.5 million in 2006 (9 percent increase)
  • Hunters spent an average of 21 days in the field
  • 1.8 million 6 to 15 year olds hunted in 2011
  • Big game attracted 11.6 million hunters (8 percent increase since 2006)
  • Hunting-related expense increased 30 percent since 2006
  • The overall participation of hunters increased more than 5 percent since 2001
  • Total hunter expenditures increased 27 percent since 2001
  • Expenditures by hunters, anglers &wildlife-recreationists were $145 billion or 1 percent of gross domestic product

The 2011 FWS report contains preliminary numbers. Read it in its entirety here.

The final report is due in November. An FWS preliminary report containing data from the states is due out later this month.


5 Responses to “Hunter Numbers On The Rise?”

  1. Holly Heyser on August 16th, 2012 07:22

    Awesome! I know I’ve seen evidence of that here in NorCal, but it’s great to know that’s not an isolated phenomenon.

  2. Phillip on August 16th, 2012 18:30

    The full report should be out this week, Holly. I expect with your penchant for crunching numbers and dissecting statistics, you’ll find plenty of food for thought. But at least on the surface, it definitely sounds like a positive gain for hunting.

  3. Ban Nock on August 17th, 2012 21:32

    The actual overview of the report itself makes good reading.

    9% of such a large survey is fairly solid statistically. The state by state will be less so but none the less interesting. Good to know where the growth is occurring.

    Anti hunters who enjoy regaling us with the refrain of hunting being in decline might not like it so much. Most state agencies have targeted women and youth.

    Migratory bird hunters, (ahem) will love the 13% increase. What’s with the “other animal” up 93%, aren’t pigs big game? Small game in decline? Better go get some marmots while the season is still open here.

  4. Phillip on August 18th, 2012 01:59

    It is promising. I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty pessimistic, so this is definitely a breath of fresh air. As for pigs, most states don’t consider them game animals so they’d fall in that “other” category, along with exotics. It would be interesting to see the numbers related to feral pig hunters.

  5. Neil H on August 20th, 2012 13:53

    I love seeing this.

    And it could be more. I have probably several people a week that would like to hunt. Even if they don’t ever try it, that speaks well for a change in general perception.

    Pigs are game animals here in California (for those in other places), and it is easily the most common animal folks want to hunt.

    I did take a woman who’s never fired a rifle shooting last week, and she wants to go along on a hunt.