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A Hunting We Will Go, Just Not Every Season

By comparing license data from a dozen states from year to year, an NSSF-sponsored study found that only about 40 percent of hunters buy a license every year.

3/12/2010


Tired of depressing data saying fewer Americans each season slay their own meat? There has been an uptick: the number of hunters in 2009 rose 3.5 percent, according to license sales in 12 states. Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, a firm specializing in outdoor data, explained that hunter numbers tend to rise in a down economy. James Curcuruto, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) director of industry research and analysis, added this is especially true when housing construction nose-dives. It seems that a high percentage of out-of-work carpenters, plumbers and electricians spend their downtime in treestands and duck blinds.


Okay, that factoid has an unfortunate flipside, but there’s more. And this is something all those so-called “animal-rights” activists are sure to leave out of the blogs: An NSSF-sponsored study, done by Southwick Associates, unearthed a caveat to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official number of hunters. By comparing license data from a dozen states from year to year they found that only about 40 percent of hunters buy a license every year. In fact, they found that less than 30 percent of 18-24 years olds who have hunted buy a hunting license every season. Now sure, the young-adult age bracket is busy heading off to college, starting careers and is understandably more concerned with the birds and the bees than the ducks and the deer, but regardless, this data puts the USFWS numbers in a different light. You see, the USFWS “2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” survey may have estimated that there are about 12.5 million active hunters in the United States, but Southwick Associates says a truer number of U.S. hunters is 18.5 million, as this higher figure counts those who buy a license at least once in every five years.


Counting hunters who aren’t active each and every season makes it more likely that the data will include hardworking tradesmen during housing booms, active-duty personnel who miss a season or two and deer hunters who get the swine flu in November.


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