Business Blog

Keys to Increasing Deer Hunting Participation


Hunters harvest nearly 6 million white-tailed deer annually in the U.S. A surprising number of Americans who participate in shooting sports or hunt other types of game have never tried deer hunting. There are certainly plenty of opportunities to welcome new deer hunters to the sport. What does it take to convince someone to give it a try?


In recent blog posts 5 WAYS TO PROMOTE NEW HUNTING AND SHOOTING ACTIVITIES, we’ve summarized findings from Paths to Participation, a study conducted by Southwick Associates and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. From both an industry and personal standpoint, it makes sense to encourage folks who are already enjoying shooting and hunting to try other forms of these recreational activities.


Here are some of the study’s observations and conclusions specific to growing deer hunting participation in the U.S.


Of hunters surveyed who say they don’t deer hunt but would like to try it, 50% already hunt upland game, 43% hunt small game, 31% hunt waterfowl, 28% hunter turkeys and 23% hunt predators. Of these hunters, 83% use a shotgun and 70% use a traditional rifle for their various pursuits.


So, what’s holding them back? A few reasons:


Places to hunt are too limited                      31%

No one to go with                                     27%

Don’t know how to start                                     22%

Believe there’s no land available                   20%

Wouldn’t know what to do with harvest      17%


The study concluded that hesitancy to participate in deer hunting isn’t about lack of time, access to equipment or cost. Clearly, accessibility and finding an experienced mentor are factors. In fact, 55% of hunters and 47% of shooters say friends are the greatest influence in trying all new types of hunting and shooting activities.


What influences could get them involved in deer hunting? The study reports:


Programs offered by state wildlife agencies  39%

Invitation from a friend/family member        39%

Books and magazines                                 32%

YouTube Videos                                        31%

Joining a local hunt club                             29%

Membership in a non-profit hunting group    28%

Program offered by an outdoor retailer        23%

Online forums/blogs                                  20%


As a retailer or manufacturer, what other ways can you think of to encourage outdoors and shooting enthusiasts to try hunting America’s most popular big-game animal? It’s a question worth answering, especially because there’s a good chance you’re already doing business with these customers.


With spring turkey hunting already underway in some Southern states, it’s a good time to look at some of these same questions regarding that species. Check back here soon for the study’s turkey hunting summary. 



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