Results from a study of Michigan deer hunters and hunting participation trends have been released. The full written report, a collaboration of the DNR and DJ Case & Associates, includes more than 100 pages of detailed information on the study process and results.
It is available online.
Some of the study’s key findings included:
• Most respondents (79 percent) did not think current deer hunting regulations are too complex.
• Differences of opinions across age categories were greater than differences between males and females.
• Regulations changes did not receive a majority of support among any group of hunters, though younger hunters generally were more supportive of changes than older hunters.
• As the hunter population ages, differences of opinions across age categories indicate the DNR should reexamine future support for regulations changes.
• Among options for possible discounts and prize drawings, a majority of younger hunters did believe they would be likely to purchase a multiyear license bundle at a discounted rate.
The study was conducted in two stages. The first included small group discussions, and included women and young adult males. Female participation has been on the rise, while young adult males are participating at lower rates than men of the same age during past decades.
“Group participants reported that as they grow older, their hunting partners continue to be those that first taught them to hunt – most often close family members,” said Brent Rudolph, wildlife division social science coordinator.
As hunters get older and move away from those traditional partners and hunting places, they can find it challenging to continue to find the time to hunt, which is one threat to sustaining hunting traditions.
“We all want to protect our favorite deer hunting spots, but hunters should think beyond only mentoring youth and consider inviting adult hunters that might be struggling to find a place to hunt to join them from time to time,” Rudolph said.
In the second stage of the study, 188,000 hunters were invited to complete the survey online. Anyone who purchased a deer license over the past five years and provided an email address received the survey invitation.
The survey evaluated hunting habits, determined opinions about possible changes to deer hunting regulations and measured interest in potential discounts or prize drawings for those who purchase deer licenses.
Phil Seng, vice president of DJ Case & Associates, said he was a bit surprised at the low percentage of hunters who felt that current deer regulations are a barrier to hunting.
“It’s common for hunters to take any opportunity to complain about regulations, but 86 percent of survey responses indicated regulations are not a barrier,” he said. “Michigan should be cautious about changing regulations unless there is strong evidence to support the change. The DNR should continue to track these attitudes of hunters closely over time.”