Hold on there. It seems hunter participation is not dwindling after all. Data provided by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) indicates 18,108,000 people went hunting in 2019, up from 17,221,000 in 2010 and marking a 5.2 percent increase over the last ten years.
Highlighting that rise in participation over the same time period is a measureable jump among females. NSGA and NSSF information shows 3,924,000 females hunted in 2019 compared to 2,464,000 in 2010. That marks a staggering 59.3 percent increase.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a family that hunts and who instilled in me the values of hunting for food, wildlife management and connection to our natural resources,” said Karie Decker, long-time hunter from Montana and director of habitat stewardship at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Today, those values persist and I now seek out opportunities to share my experiences with others who are new to hunting and fishing. This tradition is engrained in our culture and I am proud to help sustain it.”
“Within the heart of the hunter is a conservationist that loves wildlife and wild places. These are the principles that are woven into the fabric of our soul,” said Kristy Titus, life-long hunter from Oregon. “And beyond the harvest that brings a bounty to the table of families around the world, the memories made and family ties that are strengthened last this lifetime and beyond. Hunting brings our greatest of joy and allows us to take in the splendor of His creation.”
In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced hunter participation in 2016 dropped by 2 million participants to 11.5 million. That report is conducted every five years and focuses on persons 16 years of age and older compared to the NSGA which compiles information on an annual basis and includes participants age seven and older.
According to the NSGA, more people went hunting in 2019 than took part in golf (17.9 million), motor boating (15.5 million), soccer (14.2 million), baseball (12.2 million), tennis (12.2 million), volleyball (10.6 million) or softball (10.1 million).
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recognizes the vital role that hunting plays in supporting and funding conservation work. Since 1937, an excise tax on guns, ammunition and archery equipment generated more than $12.2 billion for conservation combined. Licenses and fees paid by hunters accumulate an additional $896 million annually while donations to groups like RMEF generate an additional $440 million each year. All told, hunters generate $1.6 billion annually specifically for conservation.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)