Hunting License Numbers Increased in 2016
- March 6, 2017
- By Brian Lovett
Reports of hunting’s death, it appears, have been greatly exaggerated.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Hunting License Report, which uses data reported by state wildlife agencies, the number of paid hunting license holders in the United States was almost 15.41 million in 2014. That was a jump of 571,152, or about 3.85 percent, from 2013 and the highest total since 1993. It also marked the second consecutive year paid license holders increased.
Meanwhile, the gross cost paid for licenses, tags, permits and stamps purchased nationwide rose to more than $824 million in 2014, an increase of more than $4.06 million from 2013. That was the third consecutive year that total increased.
Data for 2014 was calculated in 2016. In the report, a paid license holder is one person, regardless of the number of licenses purchased. People who hunted in multiple states are counted in each state.
Not surprisingly, Texas had the highest number of paid hunting license holders in 2014, with more than 1.13 million. Pennsylvania had 980,613, and Michigan (767,896), Tennessee (734,733), Wisconsin (719,110) rounded out the top five.
Wisconsin had the most total licenses, tags, permits and stamps in 2014 with more than 2.94 million. Pennsylvania was second with more than 2.66 million. Michigan had more than 1.88 million, Missouri had more than 1.82 million, and Texas had more than 1.61 million.
Colorado was the top state in 2014 for gross cost of licenses, tags, permits and stamps at almost $54 million. Texas was No. 2 with more than $43 million, followed by Wisconsin, more than $37.29 million; Pennsylvania, more than $37.09 million; and Illinois, more than $33.83 million.
Based on USFWS data, the number of paid hunting license holders has remained fairly steady for more than 20 years. Agency data put the number of license holders at more than 15.63 million in 1993. Since then, the number has fluctuated modestly, dipping to slightly less than 15 million in 1997 and 1998, topping 15 million again in 1999 and 2000, going as low as 14.45 million in 2008 and then rebounding in recent years. USFWS license-holder numbers peaked in 1982 at almost 16.75 million.
Those figures might actually understate the total number of hunters in the United States. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, as quoted in an October 2015 business.realtree.com blog, said many people who consider themselves hunters do not purchase a license and hunt every year.
“Approximately 65 percent of hunters do purchase a license and go hunting each year,” NSSF pointed out in the blog. “The remaining group may only hunt once every several years; however, they still consider themselves hunters. A recent study, Portrait of Today’s Hunters, conducted by Southwick Associates, determined that there are approximately 21 million individuals who have purchased at least one hunting license during a five-year period.”