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Factors Related to the Recent Increases in Hunting and Fishing Participation PART 2

American Sportfishing Association

Camp ASCCA, Creative Commons License
68% of hunters naming this as an influence. When a similar list was read to anglers, 51% said that fishing as a natural or "green" food source was an influence in their decision to go fishing. Finally, in an open-ended question (where no answer set was read and respondents could name anything that came to mind), 56% of hunters said that they hunted for food, and 32% of anglers fished for fresh fish to eat. The desire for food, whether for economic reasons, locavore motivations, or a hybrid of both, played an important role in the recent increases in hunting and fishing participation. (Click here for a summary of research examining the growing motivation of hunting for meat.)

Reasons 4 and 5: Agency Recruitment and Retention Programs and Access Programs
A few key efforts on the part of individual state fish and wildlife agencies also helped clear a path for more robust participation in hunting and fishing. Of particular importance was the implementation of hunting and fishing recruitment and retention programs, which provide instruction to participants of all age levels and, in many cases, offer program events year-round. After a decade of states' implementation of recruitment and retention programs, the intended results are beginning to manifest. (Click here for more information about Responsive Management research on recruitment and retention programs.)

More hunters also made it into the field thanks to programs that opened up access to hunting lands: the analysis revealed that the percentage of hunters in the state rating the quality of overall access to hunting lands as excellent or good had a positive effect on participation. Access is one of the most important issues that acts as a constraint to hunters when access is good, participation is unimpeded. With ample research on the potential value in these types of programs having been conducted in recent years, the study was able to show definitively that these efforts are now taking effect and producing results. (For more information, please visit Responsive Management's summaries of research on hunting and fishing access.)

Reason 6: Agency Marketing and Changes in Licenses
Many agencies in the survey and personal interviews emphasized the importance of their marketing efforts in recent years, not only for programs designed to boost participation but in the advertising of new or repackaged hunting and fishing licenses. Additionally, hunters and anglers were also asked about factors that prompted them to hunt and fish. Among hunters, 22% said that marketing efforts collectively had been an influence in their decision to go hunting. Among anglers, 20% said that marketing had been an influence in their decision to go fishing.

The marketing aspect of efforts to increase sales of hunting and fishing licenses dovetails with previous Responsive Management research that has established a correlation between increases in license sales and changes in license structure (i.e., the availability of new or modified hunting and fishing licenses). Such changes, which can include repackaging of licenses or a recombination of various privileges, can have the effect of marketing because the hunter and/or angler may perceive that a better deal is available, that the license is "new and improved," or he or she may simply be reminded of the opportunities to hunt and fish.

Reasons 7 to 10: Key Groups Driving the Increases
In pinpointing the specific markets that helped drive the increases in hunting and fishing participation, the survey was able to isolate several groups of particular importance: current and longtime hunters and anglers simply participating more often, returning military personnel resuming their participation in the activities, the reactivation of former and lapsed hunters and anglers, and new female participants.

The project examined the characteristics of these new and returning hunters and anglers. Crosstabulations of established hunters and new/returning hunters highlighted some differences that help reveal who the new/returning hunters are. Compared to established hunters, these new/returning hunters are slightly more often female, are somewhat younger, are more often in the military or college, are slightly more suburban, have not been living in the same state for as long, and are more often hunting to be with friends.

Michael J Zealot, Creative Commons License
Likewise, compared to established anglers, the group of new/returning anglers again are slightly more often female, are markedly more often retired with new free time, are slightly more often identifying themselves as homemakers, are slightly more suburban, have not been living in the same state for as long, and are more devoted to fishing in freshwater (i.e., did not fish in saltwater as much as established anglers--because anglers could fish in both types of waters, established anglers fished in freshwater about as much as new/returning anglers, but they fished in saltwater much more often than did new/returning anglers).

The full report for the study is available by clicking here or by visiting
Responsive Management is planning additional research to continue exploring the impacts of each of the factors and variables uncovered in this study.

Study Methodology

Personal interviews with state fish and wildlife agency personnel.
Surveys of fish and wildlife agency staff regarding hunting and fishing participation and license sales data for hunting, freshwater fishing, and saltwater fishing.
Multivariate analysis of license sales data.
Review of past research on hunting and fishing participation.
A survey of hunters and anglers in states with large hunting or fishing participation increases according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
Final evaluation and analysis of all data together and completion of final report.
States surveyed with marked hunting participation increases: Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, and South Dakota.
States surveyed with marked fishing participation increases: Alaska, Idaho, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.
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