Future of Hunting and Shooting Study
Bluetick asked me to post this:
For those of you that want to chew on some interesting data, visit the Responsive Management website and see or look for this study. They (RM) are currently completing a study for the PGC on attitudes toward deer which will be released to the Board at the April meeting. In the mean time, here's what we took away from a previous and very extensive RM study:
Thought you might find it of interest. Below are some findings that caught my attention. Many have been documented earlier, some are newer revelations. In general though, the study continues to define the market niche for recruiting new hunters. The excerpts are distilled from the entire 277-page study. So if you’re cursing me , I spent all day reviewing the study!
· Data suggests that there is (national) “churn” rate of approximately 37%—that this is the percentage of hunters who participate periodically. On the other hand, approximately 63% are “annual” hunters.
· Three demographic trends in particular have strong implications for participation in hunting: the trend toward increasing urbanization, the aging of the American population, and the declining proportion of the U.S. population that is white/Caucasian. All three of these trends run counter to an increase in hunting participation. Trends in hunting participation need to be put into context of trends regarding participation in outdoor recreation as a whole. Research suggests declining trends in most outdoor recreation.
· Data suggest that there is “churn” rate of approximately 33% for shooting—that this is the percentage of shooters who participate periodically. On the other hand, approximately 67% are “annual” shooters.
· Several sources of trends data show that sport shooting participation is declining over the long term, particularly archery and target shooting. Participation in trap, skeet, and sporting clays appears to be more stable, but note that these specific sports engage only a small proportion of all shooters.
· As discussed above, the U.S. population is becoming more urban and suburban at the expense of rural areas. Indeed, most of the U.S. population now lives in non-rural housing, with increasing urbanization expected to continue in the foreseeable future . As late as 1950, 36% of the U.S. population lived in rural housing, but that proportion has dropped to approximately a fifth of the population (22% in 2000; expected to drop to just above 20% by 2010).
· As was done with hunting, trends in shooting participation need to be put into context of trends regarding participation in outdoor recreation as a whole, which research suggests is generally declining.
· A little more than 2 out of 5 people who participate in either hunting or shooting do both activities.
· In general, hunting is a pursuit of rural white males.
· Most hunters start hunting in childhood, with younger initiation correlated with greater avidity and retention. The greatest avidity levels are for those who began hunting at ages 4 to 9 years-of-age.
· The majority of active hunters were first taken hunting by their father (68%), followed by friends (8%), grandfather (7%), spouse (6%), and uncle (6%).
· One researcher found another familial connection to participation. Increased frequency of participation by male parents resulted in increased overall participation rates for children. Participation rates for children steadily increased when male parents participated 1-3 days, 10-19 days, and 30 or more days in hunting activities: for sons, the participation rate climbed from 27% to 46% to 61%, and from 9% to 13% to 26% for daughters.
· Other research has examined whether single-parent households have an effect on children’s hunting rate. The data does not show that growing up in a single-parent household negatively affects children’s rate of hunting. (AGAIN DISPELLING THAT LINGERING MYTH!)
· Further, hunting participation by the female parent increased the likelihood of higher participation rates for both sons and daughters, compared to male parental participation. If a male parent hunted 10-19 days, the participation rate for sons (46%) and daughters (13%) was considerably less than if a female parent hunted 10-19 days; in that case, 64% of sons and an estimated 50% of daughters participated.
· Almost all hunters are initiated when they are young by family members. Hunters initiated this way hunt more frequently and are more likely to be avid hunters throughout their life when compared to hunters initiated in some other way. The presence of other family members who hunt, the exposure to hunting, and the presence of the hunting culture are of utmost importance in hunting initiation (as well as continuation). Rarely does hunting initiation occur outside of these parameters. Hunters come from hunting families, and hunting families produce hunters.
· When asked to name the species they first hunted, three of the four most common answers pertain to small game: 30% of hunters named rabbit or hare, 22% named squirrel, and 13% named pheasant, quail, chukar, or upland game birds in general. (One of the four answers was white-tailed deer, with 20% first hunting deer, but this is the most commonly hunted species overall.) Note that 1% or less named wild turkey, elk, or moose, and none named black bear. A comparison of the above results to the species that established hunters have hunted finds that, among established hunters, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, elk, and black bear are all more prominent than among beginner hunters. Other research also suggests that starting with small game is effective in initiation among children.
· Mentoring plays an important role in hunting initiation (and in this context, mentoring primarily refers to informal mentoring—such as a parent taking a child).
· The success of mentoring is manifested in the fairly high percentage of mentors who said that all of the people they mentored continued to hunt: 61% said all continued to hunt. Additionally, another 25% said most or some continued to hunt, and only 11% said that none continued to hunt.
· Mandatory hunter education itself does not appear to be a constraint to hunting participation. However, some researchers have suggested that the timing of the education—requiring a person to go through the entire education course before being able to even try hunting—may have some constraining effect.
· Hunting recruitment that follows the natural path of initiation outlined previously is likely to be the most successful. Hunters following that route of initiation—starting young and being mentored by others, particularly family—typically show greater subsequent avidity for hunting.
· Being in a hunting culture—such as having friends and family who hunt or at the very least approve of and support hunting—is vital in hunting recruitment, wherein experienced hunters help initiate new people into hunting. It is easier to recruit a person into hunting who is familiar with hunting and is part of a hunting culture than it is to recruit a person from outside of the hunting culture. Indeed, “It takes a hunter to make a hunter”
· Previous research by Responsive Management indicates that utilitarian reasons or achievement-oriented reasons (for the meat or to get a trophy) are not primary motivations for hunters to hunt; instead, more aesthetic reasons or appreciative-oriented reasons predominate (to be close to nature, to be with family, to be with friends). Recruitment and retention efforts should be made with this information in mind—there is simply less response for utilitarian and achievement-oriented reasons to hunt.
· Many of the top factors causing dissatisfaction with hunting are outside of the control of wildlife agencies, including hunters’ health and age, time obligations because of family and/or work, loss/lack of interest, and weather. Nonetheless, there are some factors over which agencies have some (but not complete) control, the most important being access, behavior of other hunters, and game populations.
· Hunters whose hunting participation has declined were asked in an open-ended question (meaning that no answer set is read, and respondents can give top-of-mind responses) to name the causes of the decline, and the most common answers were age/health (42%) and time obligations for family and/or work (32%)—the leading answers by far. In comparison, only 16% mentioned an access problem, the next nearest answer.
· Access and lack of places to hunt are the top dissatisfactions among active hunters as well as the top constraints among inactive hunters over which agencies and organizations have marked influence. It is important, then, to examine access, which appears to be more a problem of having land available that is, unfortunately, inaccessible rather than an absolute lack of land on which to hunt.
· Of the non-hunting public, 69% stated they have a strong lack of interest in starting to hunt. On the other hand, 31% may have some level of interest, but for a variety of reasons have not pursued that interest.
· The top motivations for hunting are aesthetic and appreciative-oriented reasons; utilitarian reasons or achievement-oriented reasons are not primary. This is important to keep in mind when discussing hunter satisfaction and the factors related to their satisfaction.
· Satisfaction with hunting among hunters is positive, with large majorities of active and inactive hunters satisfied.
· Harvest success is positively correlated with satisfaction; however, there are many hunters who still have a satisfying hunting experience without harvesting game. In this light, harvest should be seen as one of several factors related to satisfaction.
· While the above findings suggest a positive correlation between harvest success and satisfaction, a general lack of harvest success does not appear to be plaguing hunting, as lack of game is not one of the top dissatisfactions with or constraints to hunting.
· Lack of access is one of the top constraints over which agencies and other organizations have substantial influence.
· Costs and expenses related to hunting are not major dissatisfactions or constraints to participation.
· The research examined six specific hunting markets:
1 Active hunters who are likely to continue hunting
2 Active hunters who are hunting less frequently
3 Active hunters who are at high risk of deserting the sport
4 Inactive hunters who may be easily persuaded to start hunting again
5 Inactive hunters who are less likely to be persuaded to start hunting again
6 Non-hunters who are very interested in hunting
· HUNTING MARKET #2—ACTIVE HUNTERS WHO ARE HUNTING LESS FREQUENTLY: The data suggest that active hunters who are hunting less frequently than they once did are an aging group whose decreased participation appears to be the result of increasing age and related health problems.
o Although it is difficult to prevent hunting cessation due to age (or health), it may be valuable to target this group for introducing or mentoring younger family members prior to their cessation in an effort to preserve the hunting culture and enhance familial support.
· HUNTING MARKET #3—ACTIVE HUNTERS WHO ARE AT HIGH RISK OF DESERTING THE SPORT: Active hunters who are at a high risk of deserting the sport are a small but important group.
o The data suggest that the group of active hunters who are not at all interested in hunting in the next year is also an aging group, as well as more likely to be female (compared to active hunters who are interested in going hunting). The top two factors that strongly took away from hunting enjoyment among this group were not enough places to hunt and a lack of interest.
· HUNTING MARKET #4—INACTIVE HUNTERS WHO MAY BE EASILY PERSUADED TO START HUNTING AGAIN: An important target market for hunter recruitment is inactive hunters who may be easily persuaded to start hunting again. More than a third (38%) of inactive hunters who hunted in the past 5 years but not in the past 2 years indicated that they are very interested in hunting in the next year. Combined with inactive hunters who have hunted at some time in their life but not in the past 5 years, 14% of all inactive hunters are very interested in hunting in the next year.
o This group appears to have the interest and the social support necessary to bring them back to hunting, but other obligations and interests prevent them from participating. Efforts to reactivate this group should include encouraging them to take a family member hunting and, importantly, emphasizing hunting as part of their overall outdoor lifestyle. Efforts should also focus on providing hunting opportunities and combining hunting opportunities with their other interests, especially target shooting. Addressing access to land to hunt on and emphasizing the connection between hunting and successful wildlife management and conservation will also increase the appeal of hunting.
· HUNTING MARKET #5—INACTIVE HUNTERS WHO ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE PERSUADED TO START HUNTING AGAIN: Inactive hunters who are not at all interested in going hunting in the next year are more likely to be older and to have other interests and priorities.
o This market lacks the social support system for and strong interest in hunting. Given their lack of social support, lack of interest, and increasing age, it is unlikely that they will become active hunters again, but efforts to reactivate this group could include providing opportunities and combining those opportunities with other interests. It may also be important to convince this group that hunting positively affects wildlife management and conservation.
· HUNTING MARKET #6—NON-HUNTERS WHO ARE VERY INTERESTED IN HUNTING: A small yet potential target market for hunter recruitment is non-hunters who are very interested in hunting. This group appears to be young males living in more rural areas who are also interested in target or sport shooting.
· The data suggest that there is a very small yet potentially recruitable group of non-hunters: 1% of those who have never gone hunting indicated they are very interested in hunting. It appears that the group consists of young males (ages 18 to 34) who live in a small city or town or rural area and who are interested in going hunting as well as going target or sport shooting in the next year.
· This market should be targeted with recruitment programs that appeal to family participation, reduced costs, and a safe environment. Because this group is also very interested in going target or sport shooting, appeals to this group and recruitment programs directed at this group should integrate shooting with hunting.
· There is little overall awareness of specific programs that encourage hunting and shooting among hunters and shooters, and even less among non-hunters and non-shooters. Though hunters appear more likely than shooters to be aware of such programs, majorities of them still indicate being unaware.
· However, the qualitative research revealed at least three prerequisites associated with non-hunters’ willingness to at least consider hunting, and these appear near the top of the list: a program that the participant knows is conducted in a safe and controlled manner; being invited to go by a friend; and having a child the participant cares about ask to be taken hunting.
· The research revealed some of the key messages that appeal to hunters who would consider acting as mentors and take others hunting. The messages that tested the highest among hunters were:
• Making time to be with family and friends is important to you.
• Being outdoors hunting with family and friends is a great way to spend quality time with them.
• Hunting is something that bonds family and is very special to you personally. You want to share that.
• Inviting someone hunting is a great way to teach someone about what sportsmen/women are really like.
• Hunting is something that bonds friends and is very special to you personally. You want to share that.
· The qualitative research revealed that a comfortable atmosphere, an effective volunteer workforce, adequate promotional/advertising efforts, and a standardized training and implementation process are essential for the long-term well-being of recruitment and retention programs.
· Programs and courses on hunting and shooting sports tend to be well-received when they remain focused on guidelines and instruction, as opposed to political issues or cultural values.
· Support or approval of hunting is affected by exposure to the hunting culture. Approval of hunting is positively correlated with exposure to hunting. Research has shown consistently for years that people who know hunters are much more likely to approve of hunting than are those who do not know hunters.
· Mass media are more likely to report the negative aspects of hunting and shooting than to report the positive aspects.
· Support or approval of hunting varies according to various demographic factors. A greater percentage of men approve of hunting than women. Rural residents approve of hunting at a slightly higher rate than do urban residents. Older people are more likely to approve of hunting than are younger people. White Americans approve of hunting at a higher rate than do non-whites. Finally, greater levels of education are associated with lower levels of approval of hunting.
· There is some opposition to hunting (and, more importantly, reticence to participate in hunting when not otherwise opposed) based on safety concerns. Just more than a third of non-hunters (35%) said that their discomfort around firearms was an influence on their decision to not hunt, and 27% said that fear of injury from another hunter influenced them not to hunt.
· Hunter behavior and safety issues are important concerns among non-hunters, and there is a distinction between public opinion on hunting and public opinion of hunters themselves. Even among hunters, there is concern about the behavior of other hunters.
· Very few Americans are actively anti-hunting or hold an animal rights philosophy, as most of them hold a middle ground viewpoint regarding the use and welfare of animals.
· Broad demographic changes in the U.S. affect hunting and shooting participation. Many of the demographic changes contribute to declining participation in hunting and the shooting sports and are, indeed, the primary reasons for declines in hunting and shooting sports participation.
· There is a market of outdoor recreationists who are active in many forms of outdoor recreation and who show interest in hunting and shooting. In particular, these are young males who are active in many outdoor activities. This suggests that a target market exists among other outdoor recreationists.
· While mandatory hunter education itself does not appear to be a constraint to hunting participation, the timing of the education appears to have some constraining effect. In other words, requiring a person to go through the entire education course before being able to even try hunting may discourage some from trying it at all. Action Item 33. Structure hunter education requirements to allow the potential hunter to try the sport before requiring him or her to complete the full hunter education program. This is the concept behind the successful Families Afield program.
· Retention is important because it targets the most amenable market: existing hunters and shooters.
Remember, Responsive Management said this, I just pulled it altogether.
Have fun with this one!!!!