Factors Affecting Retention of Hunters: Insights from New York

Daniel Decker
Tommy Brown
Jody Enck
Proceedings from the Twentieth Congress of the International Union of Game Biologists
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Hunting has been a primary focus of traditional wildlife management throughout the world. The perception of a worldwide decline in recreational hunting participation has caused alarm among wildlife managers because of the significant implications for management programs and revenue generation. Knowledge of the factors that affect participation is needed to project future trends and to develop strategies to abate the decline.
Studies conducted by Cornell University have determined that 2 key factors in the recruitment and retention of young hunters are the opportunity for apprenticeship experiences, and the existence of strong social support, especially from family members. Related studies on retention of hunters found that 3 primary motivational orientations exist for hunting participation: appreciation, affiliation, and achievement. The strength with which these motivations are held and the degree to which hunters realize multiple benefits inherent in them greatly influence the propensity for hunters to remain active. Additionally, we have found that hunters seek and derive multiple satisfactions from the hunting experience. Knowledge of these satisfactions is important for wildlife managers because when hunters fail to realize their primary satisfactions, or when they experience primary dissatisfactions, they are likely to abandon the sport. Primary satisfactions and dissatisfactions often fall outside the influence of programs provided by wildlife management agencies.
Our research has identified 2 basic types of hunters:(1) traditional hunters, for whom hunting holds great cultural significance, and who are most likely to continue hunting and most likely to influence youngsters to adopt the sport; and (2) experimental hunters who do not have a strong cultural tie to hunting, who engage in hunting primarily as an experimental form of recreation, and who are less likely to continue participation or influence youngsters to adopt the sport.
Details about the trends in participation, motivations for participation, elements of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, and the broader social and demographic context of hunting are presented. Implications for program responses by wildlife agencies are discussed.

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Subject Group: 
Hunter Attitudes/Perceptions: 
State Specific Focus: 
New York