Declining participation in hunting, especially among young adult hunters, affects the ability of state and federal agencies to achieve goals for wildlife management and decreases revenue for conservation. For wildlife agencies hoping to engage diverse audiences in hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts, university settings provide unique advantages: they contain millions of young adults who are developmentally primed to explore new activities, and they cultivate a social atmosphere where new identities can flourish. From 2018 to 2020, we surveyed 17,203 undergraduate students at public universities across 22 states in the United States to explore R3 potential on college campuses and assess key demographic, social, and cognitive correlates of past and intended future hunting behavior. After weighting to account for demographic differences between our sample and the larger student population, 29% of students across all states had hunted in the past. Students with previous hunting experience were likely to be white, male, from rural areas or hunting families, and pursuing degrees related to natural resources. When we grouped students into 1 of 4 categories with respect to hunting (i.e., non-hunters [50%], potential hunters [22%], active hunters [26%], and lapsed hunters [3%]), comparisons revealed differences based on demographic attributes, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Compared to active hunters, potential hunters were more likely to be females or racial and ethnic minorities, and less likely to experience social support for hunting. Potential hunters valued game meat and altruistic reasons for hunting, but they faced unique constraints due to lack of hunting knowledge and skills. Findings provide insights for marketing and programming designed to achieve R3 objectives with a focus on university students.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation