The Impact of Access, Cost, Demographics, and Individual Constraints, on Hunting Frequency and Future Participation

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ABSTRACT

The number of hunting consumers over the age of 16 declined 10% from 14 million to 12.5 million between 1996 and 2006. The purpose of this research is to explain some of the underlying causes for the 10% decline in hunting consumers and develop marketing strategies to halt the decline. The results of a sample of 228 big game hunters indicate that the biggest constraint to future hunting is lack of time. Three of the four biggest constraints to future hunting are access related; public crowding, lack of access to private land, and bonus points. To a lesser extent cost is perceived as a constraint to future hunting, particularly license cost.

INTRODUCTION

Hunting is big business. In 2006, 12.5 million U.S. hunting consumers over the age of 16 spent $25 billion hunting. The average annual expenditure per hunter was $1,992 or $110 per hunting day (NSSF 2007). Wildlife recreation is a catalyst for economic growth in every state, particularly in rural areas which have less commerce than urban areas. Spending by outdoorsmen increases employment (593,000 jobs), raises economic output, and generates tax revenues for local communities (Southwick Associates 2007). Private beneficiaries of this largesse include manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of guns, electronics, decoys and calls, trees stands and ground blinds, ATVs, cutlery, archery, clothing, footwear, optics, food, drink, gasoline, lodging, outfitters, outdoor media, and landowners. Perhaps more importantly, the 50 state wildlife agencies rely on the $ 10.6 billion collected annually in hunting and fishing licenses and fees as their primary source of revenue (FHWAR 2006). In addition to license fees many agencies receive a portion of the taxes levied on hunting and fishing equipment. In sum, the management of all wildlife and their habitats is primarily paid for by hunters, fisherman, and farmers so that they and others can enjoy it.

A Sport, Industry and Heritage In Crisis?

The number of hunting consumers over the age of 16 declined 10% from Hmillionto 12.5 million between 1996 and 2006 (FHWAR 2006). It should be noted that the number of actual hunters is under-reported because those under 16 years of age or over 65 are not counted, and landowners who hunt don't have to buy permits in some states (Anderson 2008). There was a corresponding decline in hunting expenditures of 3% from 2001 to 2006. Thus, there are fewer hunters spending more per capita. Any industry would be concerned about a 1 0% drop in the number of consumers. This trend is particularly worrisome for businesses in the hunting industry because some of the likely reasons for the cause of this trend (e.g., loss of hunting land to urban and suburban development, decline in the number of resident farmers, etc.) are unlikely to go away. Also adding to the worries is the fact that the decline occurred in the face of a 13% increase in the population of the U.S.

RESEARCH PURPOSE

The purpose of this research is to explain some of the underlying causes for the 10% decline in hunting consumers and develop marketing strategies to halt the decline. First, this study will determine who hunts, why they hunt, where they hunt, and what they hunt. Secondly, the effects of access and opportunity, personal constraints, and demographics on future hunting and hunting frequency are assessed.

To date, little has been written about the decline of hunting in the academic literature. First, the work which has been done is discussed to provide context for this study. Second, a theoretical model of consumer decision-making that will guide the study is detailed. Third, the methodology is outlined. Fourth, the results and implications for private and public stakeholders are presented. Lastly, some recommendations are offered.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Research on the decline in the number of U.S. hunters has generally been focused on four areas: Access and Opportunity, Cost, Personal Constraints, and Demographics. …