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Hunting Licenses Still Increasing

The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, Director of Research and Partnerships, Charles ‘Swanny’ Evans, opened the session on hunting participation. Evans presented the findings of the Hunting License Sales 2020-2021 report. This study was the follow-up to the COVID-19 and Hunting License Sales report the Council released last year, documenting a 4.9% increase in hunting license sales from 2019 to 2020. To continue monitoring the pandemic’s impact, the Council revisited this study in early 2022 to identify ongoing changes and emerging trends in hunters’ rates of license purchases. Working with Southwick Associates, the Council collected monthly resident and nonresident hunting license sales data from 46 state wildlife agencies to quantify and compare 2021 to 2020 sales. Among those 46 reporting states:

Overall, hunting license sales decreased by approximately 1.9% in 2021 compared to 2020. Resident license sales were down 4.0%. Nonresident license sales increased by 12.9%.

“While there was a decrease in resident hunting license purchases in 2021, the surge in nonresident license sales blunted the overall effect and sales were still higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels,” Evans said before turning the discussion to data from another source, the License Sales Data Dashboard.

The License Sales Data Dashboard project will transition to a real-time dashboard in the near future, providing timely information to the public and R3 practitioners. Southwick Associates recently updated it to its current form. While it currently only has data from 20 states, the overall trends demonstrated were similar to the Hunting License Sales 2020 – 2021 report.

In addition to those trends, the dashboards provide a more in-depth view into several categories when looking at hunting license sale changes from 2020 to 2021:

New recruits (who bought a license in 2021, but none of the previous five years) were down 9%. Churn, which demonstrates turnover in hunting (bought a license in 2020, but not 2021), an increase of 1%. The monitored age range to show an overall increase was the 35 – 44-year-old group.

When asked about these projects after the Symposium, Council Executive Director Dr. Steven Leath said, “We are pleased that engagement in hunting is still higher than it was a couple of years ago, and we look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners to increase the number of states providing data to the License Data Dashboard as we transition it from the current form to a real-time resource available to everyone.”

The License Sales Data Dashboard provides valuable information regarding finer scale categories than the previously mentioned report, can be accessed on the National Shooting Sports Foundation website.

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