A recent nationwide telephone survey revealed that hunters are increasingly motivated to hunt for the purpose of harvesting meat. While this may not be news to the many hunters who are familiar with the benefits—and taste—of wild game dishes, public opinion research firm Responsive Management said that the number of sportsmen that hunt for meat is rising.
The firm reported their findings in a news release distributed via email, concluding that the increase may be due to a number of factors such as financial pressure, desire for healthy local meat, and the rising number of female hunters.
Earlier this year Responsive Management conducted a survey of American hunters 18 years and older, asking respondents what they believed to be the single most important reason for hunting. Among the options were spending time with family, being close to nature, for sport and recreation, for meat, and for a trophy. More than a third, or 35 percent of surveyed hunters, chose “for meat” as their largest motivator. In a similar survey given in 2006, only 22 percent of hunters said meat was at the top of their list. See the chart below for a comparison between the 2013 and 2006 results.
In their conclusion, Responsive Management stated a number of reasons why more American hunters might be looking to the woods to fill their dinner plates. The first and possibly the most important factor is the “affordability” of game meat. More and more hunters may be seeing hunting season as a relatively inexpensive way to feed their families. Many sportsmen surveyed by the firm said that hunting to save money on meat played a part in whether they would hunt that year.
A second reason may be for the simple pleasure of a good meal. The nutritional benefits of wild game have long been touted by both hunters and chefs. The growing popularity of the “locavore” movement is not limited to just locally-grown produce, but also lean and succulent venison as well.
Additionally, the larger number of women taking to the field may have contributed to the increase. According to the survey, sportswomen now command nine percent of the “established hunters” category and 14 percent of new or returning hunters. More than half of all women surveyed, 55 percent, indicated acquiring meat was their largest incentive to hunt. Only 27 percent of men voted similarly.
Other factors such as increasing game populations, land availability, and lottery system changes were also named by survey-takers as incentives to go hunting.