Hunters Say They’re Hunting

Most hunters report they are going afield as much or more than they expected based on two surveys.

HunterSurvey.com is run by Southwick Associates Inc., a research firm that founded the site in 2006 to help the outdoor equipment industry, government fisheries and wildlife officials, and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. Their compiled results are scientifically analyzed to reflect trends among all US hunters. According to a recent poll almost 25 percent of hunters responding said they hunted more than they expected this past season and 40 percent said they hunted about as much as they expected to.

This mirrors data compiled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry. The NSSF created a License Sales Index representing a statistically valid cross section of the United States in Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and West regions based on states selected for their ability to provide license sales data on a regular basis. This Index, also monitored by Southwick Associates, tracks license sales information and these sales are up across the board.

According to the Index, in the key turkey hunting month of April, license sales rose by approximately 17 percent over the same month the previous year. In June, which is the start of the fiscal year in many states and, hence, the month when many annual licenses go on sale, sales increased by 16.2 percent. In the latter half of the year, which is when the bulk of hunting activity occurs and most licenses are sold, August and October sales were down, but sales were up the rest of the year.

Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of industry research and analysis, noted these findings were a bright spot when considering national hunting license sales totals from all 50 states showed little change from 2005 through 2007 (the most recent year that figures were previously available). During that period, license sales have held at approximately 14.5 million annually, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Tracking of this magnitude is relatively new.  Southwick Associates began HunterSurvey.com only a few years ago and the NSSF/Southwick Associates partnership first started in 2009. Before surveys of this type hunting license sales data would not become available until 18 to 24 months after sales end. HunterSurvey polls hunters directly and the License Sales Index works with state agencies to receive data in a more timely manner. Both are ongoing efforts to better equip the industry with information that will help make more informed business decisions. We benefit by learning the trends and understanding what our customers want.

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