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Is Sport Hunting Losing “COVID Momentum”?




Attendees of the 88th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, which wrapped up last week in St. Louis, got the first look at the results of the Hunting License Sales 2021 – 2022 report that documented a 3.1% decline in hunting license sales in 2022.

“We continued to track hunting license sales as one indicator of participation, and our results indicate that the impacts of COVID on getting people outdoors may be waning,” said the Council’s Director of Research and Partnerships, Swanny Evans, as he addressed the Hunting and Shooting Sports Committee in St. Louis. “Hunting license sales are settling back to pre-pandemic levels.”

The study was a follow-up to the past two years’ Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports studies that documented a 4.9% increase in hunting license sales from 2019 to 2020 (otherwise known as the COVID-Bump) and a 1.9% decrease the following year from 2020 to 2021.

To continue monitoring sales trends in the wake of the pandemic impact, the Council revisited this study in early 2023 to identify ongoing changes and emerging trends in hunters’ rates of license purchases.

Working with Southwick Associates, the Council collected monthly resident and nonresident hunting license sales data from 46 state wildlife agencies to quantify and compare 2022 to 2021 sales.

Among the 46 reporting states:

  • Overall, hunting license sales decreased by approximately 3.1% in 2022 compared to 2021. Coincidentally, resident and nonresident license sales each were also down 3.1%.
  • Just six of 46 states saw an overall increase in the number of licenses sold in 2022 compared to 2021.
  • License sales were down overall in each of the four geographical regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and West), with percentages ranging from -2.4 to -4.8%.
  • The only months that saw overall increases in license sales – and slight ones at that – were February, and September.
  • The surge in nonresident license sales seen in 2021 receded in three of the four geographical regions, with the only increase seen in the Northeast.

The Hunting License Sales 2021 – 2022 report, which provides the most representative data on the current state of hunting license sales nationally and regionally, can be accessed on the Council’s website,

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes to us courtesy of the research arm of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports

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