Changing Public Perceptions of Hunting

Public perceptions play a critical role in determining the future of hunting and fishing, but a majority of people today have very little knowledge about hunting and fishing in general, the role sportsmen and women play in wildlife management and conservation, and the positive economic impact they have on the U.S. economy.

Hunters in Colorado found that out the hard way in the 1990s when a series of anti-hunting ballot initiatives passed in their state. Faced with a public relations campaign being waged against them, hunters decided to strike back with a PR campaign of their own. The result evolved into “Hug A Hunter” and “Hug an Angler”—a fun, friendly series of TV and web ads that convey a simple, truthful, positive message about hunting and fishing. Watch the ads here: www.hugahunter.com.

This ongoing PR campaign has transformed the hunting landscape in Colorado. Since it has been running, seven out of ten people in the state say they would vote against any new hunting restrictions or anti-hunting ballot initiatives—a huge change from the 1990s.

This effort was made possible by legislation establishing a Wildlife Council—complete with a long-term funding mechanism via a license surcharge—solely dedicated to funding and producing an ongoing pro-hunting and pro-fishing mass media campaign.

Shortly thereafter, the Nimrod Society was formed with the goal of expanding this successful public education program to every state in the country. The Nimrod Society is the only national organization with a mission solely dedicated to establishing PR programs to influence public opinion on hunting and fishing. Building on the success of the Colorado campaign, the Nimrod Society recently succeeded in passing similar legislation in the state of Michigan.

PR campaigns like Hug a Hunter and Hug an Angler help the general public understand that funds from hunting and fishing licenses help conserve forests and support wildlife habitats. Hunting and fishing license fees and excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear have funded conservation for everyone—hikers, birdwatchers, and mountain bikers, not just hunters and anglers—to enjoy.

These PR programs have been proven effective in educating the non-hunting and angling public about the positive role sportsmen and women play. They are telling the true story to the people who need to hear it the most—the general public.

Based on the successes in Colorado and Michigan, the Nimrod Society has developed a resource kit to help hunters in other states promote legislation to develop their own pro-hunting and pro-fishing PR campaigns. Visit www.nimrodsociety.org for details.