Business Blog

2018 Hunting License Sales Figures Bring Positive News


Heading into the new hunting season, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has released estimates of license sales for 2018, and the report is generally positive news for anyone with ties to the outdoors industry.


The license sales estimate came in at 15,620,578 hunters who will head afield in the U.S. in 2018. Those hunters will spend $872.2 million on licenses, tags, permits and stamps (figures include both resident and nonresident sales).


The fact that hunter participation numbers have not kept pace with the rising U.S. population is justifiable cause for concern. On the other hand, the slight uptick in license sales in recent years really is good news for the industry.


The number of hunters stayed pretty flat for the past decade, but recently began to increase. The USFWS reported 15.1 million licensed hunters in 2006. After falling to a low of 14.45 million in 2009 and 2010, the number of licensed hunters has topped 15 million for each of the past three years.


It should also be noted that the entire universe of U.S. hunters is presumed to be approximately 21 million. While the annual USFWS numbers look at current license sales, studies by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and various research partners have reinforced the fact that not ever hunter purchases a license every year.


There are many hunter participation segments worthy of study, and we will continue to report on them consistently here at the Realtree Business Blog. Here are some interesting facts and figures that put things in perspective currently.


  • The largest segment change can be found in the number of licensed female hunters. Their ranks have swelled from 2.7 million in 2007 to more than 3.7 million in 2016!


  • The young adult category (age 18-24) participation is a bright spot in hunting numbers. In 2011 there were 1.8 million participants. That number grew to 2.1 million in 2017 (male and female hunters combined.


  • Texas consistently leads the nation in license sales, topping 1 million participants. The top 10 states’ estimated 2018 license sales, according to the USFWS:


Texas                    1,157,779

Pennsylvania         975,650

Wisconsin             706,400

Michigan               706,101

Georgia                 658,910

North Carolina      585,766

New York             579,043

Minnesota             568,057

Alabama                547,905

Oklahoma             529,651


  • The rifle hunting, shotgun hunting and bowhunting segments all showed slight growth between 2011 and 2017:

                                                2011                2017

Rifle Hunters                          10.48               11.19

Shotgun Hunters                     8.37                 8.55

Bowhunters                             4.27                 4.64


One overarching trend is that while the shooting sports in general have seen huge participation increases over the past several years, that fact has not directly translated into higher hunter numbers. For a closer look at this trend, check out this blog post from March 2018.


Keeping up with these trends, trying to understand what is driving them, and then building sales and marketing plans to address them should be key to your manufacturing or retail business.



Editor’s Note: It’s easy to stay current with breaking product news, industry insights and marketing tips from Realtree, American’s No. 1 camo brand. Simply click here to sign up for our free newsletter, courtesy of the Realtree Business Blog!