Preppers and Locavores Represent New Generation of Hunters

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, Hunting

Survey research shows that American hunters most often name the meat as their most important reason for hunting, and that the percentage of hunters who hunt mainly for the meat continues to grow. Responsive Management, which has tracked hunting participation for almost three decades, recently released the latest results of a survey question put to U.S. hunters since 2008. When asked to choose their single, most important reason for hunting from a list that included:

Infographic showing showing hunters' reasons for hunting

  • For a trophy
  • To be close to nature
  • To be with family and friends
  • For the sport or recreation
  • For the meat

About two in five hunters nationwide selected the latter reason—by far the most popular answer.

Rather than any new development, this finding is instead the latest data point in a continuing trend. Whereas the sport or recreation was the most popular reason for hunting roughly a decade ago (when about one in three hunters gave this answer), hunters, beginning in 2013, have most often named the meat as their primary motivation for going afield. And while the percentages of hunters naming one of the other three reasons have declined or remained flat over the past decade, the proportion of hunters who say they hunt mostly for the meat has almost doubled.

The reasons for this emphasis on game meat as a primary motivator for hunting participation range from the economic to the sociocultural—the shift cannot be attributed to a single reason alone. An important benefit of hunting is its potential as a source of food that hunters can acquire for themselves in a cost-effective manner. During times of economic downturn, such as the recession that gripped the country for much of the last decade, hunting is an attractive option for putting food on the table. Certainly, this perspective is represented to some degree within the substantial percentages of individuals who, over the last several years, hunted primarily for the meat.

Another reason for the uptick in hunters who went out mostly for the meat is the locavore movement, a growing national trend reflecting interest in eating locally and taking a more active role in the acquisition of food, especially organic, free-range, chemical- and hormone-free meat. Through the locavore movement, individuals from nontraditional hunting backgrounds have flocked to lessons and seminars offering instruction on how to hunt and process game meat. Locavore hunters are often educated millennials who hail from urban and suburban areas; lacking traditional hunting mentors, they nonetheless have been moved to take up hunting as adults for reasons of self-sufficiency, health, sustainability, or a desire to reconnect with nature.

The growing popularity of the locavore movement is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and an icon of the millennial generation, has taken up hunting as a means of procuring his own meat (Zuckerberg was recently quoted as saying that food “tastes doubly better when you’ve hunted the animal yourself.”)

The locavore movement has grown to the point that fish and wildlife agencies are beginning to take seriously the recruitment and retention potential of this new category of hunter. Responsive Management recently worked with the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ (SEAFWA) Committee on Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Related Participation and the Midwestern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ (MAFWA) Recruitment and Retention Committee to evaluate the outcomes of a series of pilot programs designed to promote hunting and fishing among young adults in urban/suburban settings. The programs targeted individuals who were interested in locally grown or organic foods.

What is your primary motivation for hunting? Share your answer in the comment section.

SLRule

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (11)

  • NEIL SIEBRECHT

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    TERRIBLE EXAMPLE!!!!!!! Do you not know that He is just as BAD if NOT worse than Bloomberg!!!

    Reply

  • Jack Daugherty

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    Zuckerberg must get tired of eating human babies. Time to go kill something himself! What an ass!

    Reply

  • Deplorable Robert

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    First off, while I always appreciate these articles that Mr. Dolbee writes, I also must put my four cents in. Wishful thinking that these millennials will follow Tech guru Zuckerberg to go out and hunt for their food. They may wait at the edge of the woods for someone to GIVE them a bird, duck, deer, elk, pheasant, etc, but I doubt more than two or three out of a thousand new “malleninials” would 1) use a gun,2) take time out from their Xbox, 3) actual do the LABOR involved to go out in the wild and work the woods to get their bounty. Walmart is just around the corner.
    Of course, I say that with a little sarcasm but mostly, it hits home. I have been trying to get my daughter’s boyfriend hooked on it. He is from California and has never fired a weapon. But I am soon to take him to the range and let him experience a little “HEAVEN”. GLOCK 32, 7MM Remington Mag, shotgun 3 1/2 mag, a muzzleloader, just to cover all types. Then comes the AR-15.Such fun getting newbies into the sport.
    I hope the malenials give it a try!

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      Good luck! It hurts me, but I have had a lot of trouble getting my own teenager out to the range. It hurts me, but it has to be his choice. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ Dave Dolbee,

      Maybe comparing such dynamic differences in the kids of shooting enthusiasts should be a topic for another article. I could never imagine having a teen that doesn’t beg for more range time.

      I have 8 children (6 girls and 2 boys), all of whom love to shoot; so much so that even my adult married children still pester me to go plinking with the remaining teens that still live at home. It’s as if they forget they have their own guns now and can go anytime they please. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s because they know Daddy will still pay for all the ammo. Either way, they love getting together and getting out to shoot.

      Reply

    • peteyraymond

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      Dave, you gotta get smart about your kid. You’re his old man. You’re an old fart. You’re not cool. The trick to getting him interested in hunting is to have someone he respects, admires, or looks up to take him hunting. A coach, teacher, neighbor, friend, or relative that he really likes could get him interested. Just have them do it on their own, without your apparent involvement. Sometimes a little psychology (tinged with a bit of trickery) will do the trick. That method has worked a few times on both of my sons. Don’t give up on the kid. Get off your butt & make the effort. Hint: know any hot chicks that hunt and would take your kid hunting? Hmmmmm. Light bulb!

      Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      That sounds like a plan. I even played a few video games with him and said, “You know, I can get any of the guns in this game, the real ones, and we can go shoot them.” However, he had no interest. Sounds like it’s time to take your advice and go with plan B. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

  • jim

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    A curious article. One caveat that I noted was Mr. Dolbee’s sentence of “chemical and hormone free meat”. Not so fast, Sir! That deer that you just shot was eating last night on a field of corn laced with Round-up as he was the night before that and the night….I’m a hunter as well, but I prefer to hunt away back in the mountains where the closest food is an old run down orchard or a grove of oaks. Also, if I get a deer, that is great, but my primary interest is the excuse to spend time in the woods. I guess that i’m weird?

    Reply

  • Spencer

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    I don’t consider myself a hunter, but varmints & pests would be my main reason. The garden behind my house is the reason I shoot squirrels, They seem to munch on most everything except celery. If I were a hunter, it would be for the meat.

    Reply

  • Dan

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    How can you use an extreme gun control freak like Zuckerberg as an example of anything gun related? This individual has contributed millions to several gun control programs and is often considered to be the poster boy for hypocritical views on guns. Zuckerberg cannot be “best exemplified” for anything relating to gun ownership or use. This article needs to be rewritten.

    Reply

  • Secundius

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    Somehow picturing “Mark Zuckerberg” as an Avid Hunter eludes me, unless Pushing a Shopping Cart and Grocery List in a Grocery Store qualifies as a Hunting Weapons…

    Reply

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