Despite what you may have heard, hunter numbers in the United States are actually growing.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette recently reported that in 2011, 13.7 million people aged 16 and older in the United States hunted. That number is an increase of more than 1 million, up from 12.5 million just five years prior in 2006.
Hunters pumped $33.7 billion worth of expenditures into the economy in 2011, also up from $22.9 billion in 2006.
These numbers are extracted from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (FHWAR). It’s a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Interior, which is completed every five years.
According to the FHWAR, the first survey was conducted in 1955 and is the “oldest and most comprehensive continuing recreation” survey. The U.S. Census Bureau collects information on who hunts, fishes, watches wildlife, and how often and how much is spent on these recreational activities.
Of the 13.7 million hunters, 89 percent were male and the majority of hunters were between the ages of 45 and 54.
Deer was the most popular game pursued by hunters in 2011, with 10.9 million hunters. Wild turkey comes in a distant second, with 3.1 million, squirrel with 1.7 million and rabbit/hare and pheasant with 1.5 million. Total migratory bird hunters round off to 2.6 million.
Trip-related expenditures, such as transportation, food and lodging, add up to a majority of the dollars spent by hunters at $10.4 billion.
In addition to the hunting increase, the country’s angling population grew as well. In 2006, it was reported that 29.9 million people fished, which increased to 33.1 million in 2011. Anglers pumped 41.8 billion into the economy, a decrease from 47 billion in 2006.
It seems as if more people are realizing the benefit for outdoor recreation. More sportsmen, especially from the younger generation, mean traditions will pass on. That’s not only good for the future of hunting and fishing but, as is shown by the report, good for the U.S. economy.
Outdoorsmen are a generous bunch, and from the billions of dollars spent on recreation, percentages from taxes and license sales go toward conservation. As long as there are ample anglers and hunters, there will be ongoing conservation, a thriving, successful industry and a continuance of an important, time-held way of life.
Have you witnessed an increase in hunting popularity during your trips to the field? Are there more hunters in your area? Have you helped anyone discover the joys of hunting? Leave your comments below.