Education, Ethnicity, Gun Ownership, and the Dying Sport of Hunting

By Joe Miele
Board member of C.A.S.H. and former President

Every five years, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) publishes its National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. While we eagerly await the publication of the full 2016 Survey in December, as it will show the further decline in the number of active hunters, the 2016 National Overview has been published and it shows a 16% decline. We decided to take a look back to the latest full survey for information that tells an encouraging story if you’re interested in pushing hunting into the abyss of extinction. This survey dated 2011, can be found here.

It’s an interesting read if you’re a statistics geek.

When we cracked open the publication to page 41, we found some interesting tables. The first thing we noticed is that, in general, hunters have limited formal education. Official USFWS statistics show that 47% of hunters have only a high-school education, and 73% of hunters do not have a four-year college degree. Because age is not factored into these numbers, this alone is not an indication that education is the enemy of hunting, but a table on page 39 shows us that 73% of hunters are aged 35 and older. By age 35 most people are done with formal schooling, so it may indeed be said that the more educated people are, the less likely they are to enjoy killing helpless wildlife.

Another telling statistic comes from the US Census Bureau. Hispanics are the quickest growing ethnic group in the United States, and this does not bode well for the future of hunting. Getting back to page 41 we can see that Hispanics make up only 2% of hunters, while non-Hispanic whites (a shrinking segment of American society) are 94% of all hunters. This indicates that kids should be encouraged to stay in school and pursue formal education past high school and college and into graduate school. As we’ve learned, education is one of the nails in sport hunting’s coffin.

Looking at the 2016 National Overview, we’ve found data showing that despite the best efforts of the hunting cartel, hunting is less popular now than it has been in decades. Some may wish to disagree, but the proof is in the data. In 2016, 11.5 million people 16 years old and older went hunting. This is only 5% of the U.S. population and a 16% decrease from 2011 to 2016. The numbers of big game hunters fell 20%, and hunters seeking “other animals” decreased by 39%. Interestingly, and despite ever increasing costs, total hunting-related spending decreased 29% between 2011 and 2016. For the first time the report is tracking non-hunting firearm and archery target shooters, and the number of people who participate in these forms of recreation exceed the number of active hunters. In 2016 there were 32 million target shooters using firearms and 12.4 million archery target shooters. The number of non-hunting archery shooters is larger than the number of all hunters combined. I like that.

Predictably, hunting apologists are coming up with the same old excuses for why interest in hunting is waning. Hunting columnist Ken Perrotte of the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, VA, blames forest mismanagement, anti-logging “tree-huggers,” and kids who are increasingly burying their faces in smartphones and video games for the lack of interest in hunting. One thing hunters consistently fail to see is that hunting is dying because today there is greater access to information than ever before. Back in the day, when a child was taken hunting for the first time and became upset over the needless death of a harmless and helpless animal, it was much easier for the adult accompanying that child to brainwash him by saying “deer are dying of starvation and we have to thin the herd; nature is cruel; this makes them healthier; it’s a proud and noble tradition, blah blah blah.” Today nearly every child and teenager has access to the Internet where truthful information about hunting is posted everywhere. They can learn for themselves how hunting creates overpopulation, devastates the environment, and causes horrific suffering. They no longer see hunting in the same distorted light that was shining 40 years ago. Is it any wonder why hunters want to keep kids off their computers and smartphones?



Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561