Data released at the R3 2022 National Symposium held earlier this month shows a decrease in hunting license sales nationwide. Tag sales fell 1.9% between 2020 and 2021, according to the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports report.
Now in its second year, the study seeks to understand how the onset of the global pandemic has altered hunting trends. Even with the overall decline, the report says last year’s tag sales were still above pre-pandemic levels, with 17 of 46 states seeing an increase between 2020 and 2021.
Interestingly, non-resident licenses saw a significant increase in sales over previous years, increasing 12.9% over 2020. Overall, 43 of the 46 states that participated in the study experienced an increase in sales from non-residents, including the western region of the country, which saw the largest increase at 15.5%.
“While there was a decrease in hunting license purchases for residents in 2021, the surge in non-resident license sales mitigated the overall effect, and sales were still above pre-levels. the 2019 pandemic,” said CAHSS Director of Research and Partnerships, Charles Swanny.
Unlike out-of-state licenses, resident license sales fell 4% from 2020 levels, with 37 states seeing a decrease in tags sold. The Western region saw the largest decline, down 5% from 2020.
The contrast between resident and non-resident license sales can be attributed to various factors. In 2020, travel was very limited due to restrictions imposed by states during the pandemic. Non-resident sales appear to peak in May 2021, correlating to the same month in which states began easing nationwide pandemic travel restrictions.
The climate and severe weather events have also had a noticeable effect on hunting opportunities across the country. In recent years, drought has limited hunting opportunities in western states, including Wyoming and Utah. Meanwhile, massive wildfires in states like Colorado and California have made hunters more vulnerable to season cancellations or land closures, prompting residents to look elsewhere for their hunting trips.
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Another significant issue highlighted in last year’s data is the recruitment of new hunters. In 2021, new hires were down nine percent, according to the report. There has also been an increase in the number of hunters who purchased a license in 2020 but did not purchase one in 2021, also known as churn.
This downward trend is a concern for industry officials and wildlife managers, especially after the number of American hunters hit its highest peak since the 1980s in 2020. This boom was led by a 5% increase in tag sales and a 25% increase in the number of new hunters. .
“As an industry and as fellow hunters, we have work to do, especially if we are to ensure the longevity of the sport and what that means for our conservation model as a whole,” OnX wrote in a report. recent.
CAHSS will continue to monitor license sales to help industry officials and state agencies expand hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation. This data is uploaded to a user dashboard that updates license sales data with input from state agencies in real time.