The post-COVID-19 decline in hunting license sales continued in 2022, bringing sales roughly back to pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
In early 2021, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (Council) conducted a survey of state wildlife agencies and found that among the 40 reported states there was an overall increase in hunting license sales of 4.9% from 2019 to 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic stretched into a second year, 2021 saw Americans’ demands for outdoor recreation and escape remain high, especially among nonresident hunting license buyers, but overall hunting license sales dipped by 1.9%. To continue identifying hunting license sales trends, the Council revisited this study in early 2023, with results revealing further slippage in 2022 sales, this time by 3.1% compared to 2021 levels.
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 trends to 2021. 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, July, 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 Council will continue to work with the hunting community to expand and improve recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts to ensure a strong future for hunting.