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The Economic Rationale Behind Growing Hunting Numbers

What’s to thank for growing hunting numbers? You may be surprised at one suspected reason.

Between the years of 2006 and 2011, hunting participation soared by nine percent. A big part of that boon was a burgeoning interest in hunting among females. In fact, female hunters were 25 percent more common in 2011 than they were five years earlier.

Throw in the fact that fishing saw a growth of 11 percent, and it seems that something was going on during the latter part of the last decade to make people want to take up rifles and bows or rods and reels and get outdoors in pursuit of game or fish.

So what do you think happened to drive the growth in two of America’s longtime favorite sports? Was it some sort of presence in the media or in pop culture that made people want to see what they were missing? Did the trend of growth mark a growing acceptability for hunting and fishing among the once staunch animal rights activists we so often find ourselves up against in arguments?

While any and all of those things may have played a role in the growth, none of them served as the main impetus. How come? Because that title belonged to something you might not expect: the economic recession.

That’s right, the primary reason given for the growth of hunting and fishing participation was a downturn in economic growth, according to research by Responsive Management and reported on by the Billings Gazette. On one hand, that doesn’t make much sense: after all, becoming a serious hunter or angler is not cheap. In addition to hunting and fishing licenses, outdoor sportsmen and women must expend money on all manner of gear. Rifles, fishing rods, clothing, tree stands, ATVs, fishing boats, target practice, tackle, etc., etc. There’s a reason why the second most popular reason for newfound fishing and hunting participation was a growth in income.

But despite the entry expenses that hunting and fishing require, they also offer an economic appeal to those hit hard by recession, simply because they give people a chance to catch or kill their own meat and feed their families without adding extra strain to the weekly grocery bill.

In other words, many people who have taken up hunting or fishing in the past six or seven years did so because it offered them a way to save money on food without going hungry. When asked why they had begun to hunt or fish, many newcomers answer “for the meat.” The answer was especially popular among women, possibly explaining precisely why our sport has seen such a great increase in female participation in recent years.

The question now is this: as the country finally digs itself out of the recession, are hunting numbers going to decline to what they were half a decade ago? Will the female hunting trend reverse now that the sport will not be as pivotal for providing meals? It’s possible, but we’d like to think that most of the new hunters in our midst came for the meat and decided to stay for the sport.

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The Economic Rationale Behind Growing Hunting Numbers