The purpose of this study was to identify the percentage of hunter education graduates who purchase a license after completing their training, and how often they continue to purchase in subsequent years. The results are intended to help the hunting community understand if and where intervention efforts may be needed to maintain hunting participation among newer hunters.
Twelve state wildlife agencies participated in this project based on their willingness and ability to share hunter education and license sales data. The analysis consisted of profiling the hunter
education class of 2006 and their subsequent license buying habits over the following six years (2006 to 2011). This was done by first examining each state’s 2006 hunter education graduate database, then cross-matching each graduate’s record to the state’s license sales database. By comparing the two databases, trends and profiles were developed. Results for each state are presented within this report. Major highlights observed across all states include:
- A significant percentage of hunter education graduates will not buy a hunting license after graduating:
- The percentage of graduates who purchased at least one hunting license from 2006 to 2011 averaged 67.7% among the 12 states analyzed.
- Some graduates may have taken hunter education training for reasons other than to hunt, but others may need assistance towards making the leap to becoming an active hunter.
- Those who graduated in June and the warmer months are the greatest percentage of graduates who never purchased a license. Only three states showed months in the fall/winter that held the highest percentage of graduates who never purchased a license.
- Hunting participation rates drop significantly soon after graduation:
- From 2006 to 2011, the pool of graduates who bought hunting licenses shrunk by 34.5%.
- After six years, only 44% of graduates were observed buying a license.
- In most states, but not all, those who graduated between the ages of 16 to 24 were less likely to buy a license six years after graduating. This is not surprising given the transient nature of young people, but efforts to retain them as hunters may provide long term conservation benefits.
- Similarly, younger people in college or military lifestyles are more likely to stop renewing their licenses within six years of graduating.
- Graduates from highly urbanized areas showed the greatest drop-out rates, indicating a greater need for intervention efforts.
- One measure used to track each class’s post-graduation participation rate is the percent of potential man-years of license sales actually received by each state. For example, each graduate has the potential to buy a license in each of the six years following graduation. If all hunters bought a license in only half those years, the state reached 50% of that class’s license buying potential.
- The average percent of sales received over the six year period for all of the states was 42.1%.
- The lowest rate was 26.1% (Virginia) and the highest was 55.8% (Montana).
- This measurement can be used as a base for states to track their efforts to retain hunter education graduates as active hunters.