(Washington, D.C.) – This week, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (Council), along with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), released findings from a project conducted by Dr. Loren Chase, of Chase and Chase Consulting that analyzes hunting and fishing license data from 26 different state fish and wildlife agencies, or 56.3% of paid license holders in the nation.
The project, titled “The Future of Hunting and Fishing Project,” expands on previous work done by Dr. Chase. This updated research was completed over many months in 2017 and sought to examine shifts in demographics of cohorts of hunters and anglers through time, and to determine the impact of different factors (age, period or cohort) on overall license sales. Building on a foundation of a cohort analysis from 1992 to 2012 with a few states, the current phase of the project specifically examined license sales trends from 2012 to 2017.
“The Future of Hunting and Fishing Project” was designed to better understand the declines and shifts in hunting and fishing license sales, and the resulting impact this will have on the future trajectories of conservation revenues. This project clearly conveys the immediacy of the financial challenge the overall conservation community faces stemming from changing hunter and angler participation and it predicts that reductions in agency funding could occur as soon as 2024, due to a generation of hunters and anglers aging out of participation.
Further, the analysis of the data demonstrates that participation in hunting and angling is not dictated by the age of a person nor a specific period in time, but rather by the generation to which a person belongs. The results of this project offer new perspectives on participation which can help state fish and wildlife agencies understand their participation rates and can ultimately be used to inform their future recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) strategies.
“The Future of Hunting and Fishing Project” offers a different view of buying habits of hunters and anglers in the United States.”, said John Frampton, CEO of the Council, “With this data, we can understand the future implications of an aging population of hunters, and better understand the factors that influence license buying rates. Agencies can now use this information to refine their R3 strategies to ensure a continued customer base and long-term funding for their agencies.”
Along with the state and national level trends, the Council, RBFF, and ASA have identified some of the following insights as examples of what state fish and wildlife agencies, and other partners, can do to respond and address the expected shifts in license sales:
- Adopt a customer-centric approach in which R3 professionals focus on trends in purchasing habits, customer demographics and much more, permits an opportunity to fully understand customers and their needs, and in turn develop a strategic approach to engage them in angling and hunting.
- Understand the current trends and shifts in license buying trends permits R3 professionals to craft more strategic R3 efforts. Recruiting, retaining and reactivating new audiences; such as women, young adults, families, and culturally diverse audiences, will be vital to increasing license sales and sustaining long-term participation in hunting and angling in the future and this project highlights opportunities where R3 professionals can focus their efforts.
- Seek partner and stakeholder buy-in when developing R3 strategies and plans will help increase hunting and fishing participation.
- Shifting customer demographics will require R3 Professionals to continue to evolve the way they promote and market participation in hunting and fishing.
- Evolving trends in participation in hunting and fishing require R3 professionals to continue to evaluate current R3 efforts to measure outcomes and employ adaptive management techniques to continue to refine their R3 strategies.
The Future of Hunting and Fishing Project offers a new perspective on license buying trends and provides just one more tool in the R3 toolbox to ensure that the future of conservation, angling and hunting are situated for growth. Together, the Council, RBFF and ASA will be releasing the results of this project to state agency directors in the coming weeks.
Purpose: Ensure support for and active participation in hunting and the shooting sports for future generations.
Vision: America where hunting and the shooting sports are an integral part of mainstream culture and where hunters and shooters are widely recognized as premiere conservation contributors.
Mission: Facilitate the promotion and growth of hunting and the shooting sports and the education of the public on the contributions that hunters and shooters make towards wildlife conservation.