The Motivated Hunter

Research Shows Putting Meat On The Table Increasingly Important.

Editor’s note: This report contributes to strong indicators that hunting is increasing in the U.S., providing additional business opportunities for numerous segments of the industry.

Recent national and state-level research conducted by Responsive Management reveals that obtaining meat is an increasingly important motivation among American hunters. While there are several reasons for this growth in the segment of hunters who engage in hunting for utilitarian reasons, several of Responsive Management’s new studies make clear the trend is widespread and unmistakable.

The research firm notes the factors contributing to the increase in hunting for meat include the recession, the locavore movement and more women hunting.

The Evidence

In a 2013 nationwide scientific telephone survey measuring hunting participation among Americans ages 18 years old and older, hunters were asked about their single most important reason for hunting in the year prior to the survey. Respondents were asked to choose from a list of potential reasons, including being with family and friends, being close to nature, for the sport/recreation, for the meat or for a trophy.

In response, more than a third of hunters (35%) chose “for the meat” as the most important reason for their recent hunting participation. However, what is most noteworthy is the substantial increase in the percentage of hunters giving this answer compared to the last time the question was asked — in a similar nationwide survey conducted in 2006, just 22 percent of American adult hunters named “for the meat” as their most important reason for going hunting.
While percentages for the other reasons either remained stable or declined between 2006 and 2013, those who named the meat as the most important reason for their hunting participation increased by 13 percentage points.


Hunting serves as a cost-efficient and “green” food resource.

Potential Reasons

Several factors appear to have contributed to this pronounced motivational shift in favor of meat among American hunters. Perhaps the single most important factor is the global recession that began at the end of 2008 and, by some estimations, continues to affect the economy of the United States. As households throughout the country started to feel the effects of significant financial pressures several years ago (including frozen or reduced salaries and/or prolonged unemployment), more Americans likely turned to hunting as a way of obtaining relatively inexpensive venison and other meat to put food on the family table. A 2010 USA Today article described hunting as “recession-proof” and “a bulletproof industry” during the recession.

Another factor contributing to an emphasis on hunting for utilitarian reasons appears to be the natural, “green,” or locavore food movement. This movement has been gaining adherents over the past few years, and hunting is certainly a key source of such foods. A 2009 New York Times article discusses “Deer
Hunting for Locavores,” an instructional class offered in Charlottesville, Va., to novice hunters interested in learning how to hunt for their own deer meat.


Howard Communications, Inc. A substantial portion of women hunters cite
meat as a main driving factor for their participation in hunting.

The Gender Factor

A final factor that provides insight into the recent emphasis on hunting for meat relates to the gender of hunters. A 2013 study that explored recent increases in hunting and fishing participation between 2006 and 2011 categorized all hunters in the seven-state survey as either established hunters (those who first hunted in 2006 or earlier and did not take a break that included 2006) or new/returning hunters (those who first hunted in 2007 or later as well as those who first hunted prior to 2006 but who took a break from hunting that included 2006).

It is this latter group that may have contributed to the difference in hunter numbers between 2006 and 2011. By cross-tabulating these groups by demographic questions, the analysis revealed a small but notable difference in the gender breakdown of the two groups: among established hunters, 9 percent are women; among new/returning hunters, 14 percent are women.

Furthermore, a cross-tabulation by gender of the data from the 2013 nationwide study of hunting participation among adult Americans reveals that women hunters appear to be substantially more likely to choose “for the meat” as their most important reason for hunting in the year prior to the survey: 55 percent of women hunters chose “for the meat,” compared to just 27 percent of male hunters.

Together, these cross-tabulations suggest that gender plays a role in the shift toward hunting for meat. With more new women hunters in the field and the greater emphasis women place on the importance of hunting for the meat, it can be deduced that this is an additional explanation for a shift in hunting priorites.

Responsive Management is planning new research to continue examining this important shift in motivations regarding hunting participation. To download Responsive Managements’ hunting related reports and other surveys, visit

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