Business Blog

Hunter Numbers Steady While U.S. Population Grows



This past November, I reported on the number of hunting licenses sold by state and what percentage of each state’s residents purchased licenses. Texas is the leader in license sales with just over 1 million licenses sold each year, and Pennsylvania isn’t far behind at approximately 950,000 licenses sold annually.


In terms of the percentage of each states’ residents who hunt, however, South Dakota is the hands-down winner, with 37.3% of its 654,000 residents (age 15 and over) buying a license (2013 statistics based on U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service figures).


While it’s educational to study where hunters live and spend their money, it’s also an eye-opening experience to look at related stats on a national level.


In 1960, the U.S. population age 15 and over stood at 125,537,002. In that same year, 13,963,262 hunters age 15 and over purchased a hunting license. A little more than five decades later the U.S. population age 15 and over is 250,402,813. License sales have grown by nearly a million since 1960, recorded at 14,837,609 in 2013 (and hunters forked over more than $820 million for licenses, tags, permits and stamps that year).


A million more hunters in the field … when you think about it, that’s a staggering number. Good for hunting. Good for the economy. Good for anyone who works in the hunting products business, right? Yes, but …


The U.S. population increased by 102.7% during that time period, while hunter numbers only increased by 6.3%. Another way of looking at this situation is to note that in 1960, 11.3% of the U.S. population hunted. In 2013, only 5.9% hunted.


So, your customers are still there. In fact, while hunter numbers bounce around from year to year, there are some 15 million paid license holders who need to gear up every year, just like there were in the 1970s. But you definitely need to work harder and market smarter to reach them.


Editor’s Note: With more than 2,000 manufacturing and retail licensees, we at Realtree have the experience to help you reach today’s hunting customer. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can work together to grow your business.