Is Racism a Factor in the Decline in the number of Hunters?

7 10 2009

A recent article in a national magazine about plummeting participation in duck hunters chronicled a decrease from 2.44 million duck stamps sold to just 1.5 million from 1972 to 2006. Small game hunters have also decrease by 10% in the 10 year period 1996-1006. The studies which were reviewed explored a lot of possible reasons for the decline. Rapid urbanization, difficulties in finding places to hunt, time and distance, aging hunters to name a few. The article points out that there are more ducks and geese than ever before.

This is typical of many writings published in hunting and outdoor industry media. They fail to even consider one of the most significant changes in the population. That is the change in the racial/ethnic demographics. According to the US Census statistics for 2007 thirty four percent (34%) of the population the United States (301 million) are people of color. There are over 82 million African Americans and Latinos. In that same year only 7% of the 12.5 million hunters were African American, Latino or Asian.

It’s obvious to some that the issue of diversity and inclusion needs to come to light. Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Parks Service sponsored a conference in Atlanta entitled Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great Outdoors. I have not read about this or other opportunities to begin reach out to all of our diverse citizens in any of the outdoors sports industry media or discuss barriers which may exist.

Advertisers may be the first to woo ethnically diverse hunters. Leupold and Stevens, makers of riflescopes and other optics, has a new television commercial depicting an African American Hunter. It is possibly this is the first such ad. If you search all of the major outdoor magazines you would be hard pressed to find a picture of any person who appears to be African American, Latino, Asian or Native American. What a shame. What needs to change for the outdoor industry to reverse the trend of shrinking numbers of participants is to begin to at least recognize where the real potential for growth is. The industry is notoriously myopic and cannot see the forest for the trees.

Donny R. Adair, President

African American Hunting Association, LLC

Visit our website at




13 responses

8 10 2009
W. David Coleman

This is a pretty hard question to answer because there many grey areas. Historically, being out in the field hunting in the old days, I would hear many stories about black men going out hunting and would die to a hunting accident. It appeared that most of these black men were more efficient in hunting accidents than hunting. Case in point? Were they attacked. The situation is real, about two (2) years ago in the state of Wisconsin, a Hmong refugee was out deer hunting and felt threatened after someone or several people shot firearms in his direction during the hunting season. The result was that he fired back and ended up killing at least one hunter if not more. He was arrested and sent to jail. Finding hunting property is tough enough and hunting on public land some individuals feel like they have special rights to the public land and you don’t belong there. It’s not racial, but believe me, if you get into an altercation with any of them, you will lose on the side of the justice system. That’s just the way of life here in the USA. My wife only allows me to hunt on military bases because the rules and regulations are subjected by everyone regardless of race, creed or color. However, we still need to connect with our young and also teach survival skills and I believe that hunting is a necessary survival skill. It’s beautiful being out in the woods and it’s also a challenge in the fair chase of game. Can hunts (i.e., hunting over a feeding ben or in a high fenced area really isn’t hunting, you’re just paying to shoot an unchallenged animal, to me that’s not sport). So let’s get out and enjoy nature while we’re above the ground because you definitely can’t enjoy it six (6) feet under.

7 09 2010
Mike Simom

First let me say that I am a hunter. I look forward to getting into the woods more that Christmas. I think that access plays a big part in the lack of African American hunters. Lets face it we don’t know many people that own 100 acres of land in most states. Let alone 1,000. I think that if we and our White counter parts would start to hunt together the sport would grow. I live on the south side of Chicago. Some of the biggest whitetail taken have been in my home state and I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt here. I’ve talked to many guys over the years about hunting. Shared stories and talked about the next big trip but have never been invited. I can’t answer as to why that’s so, but I’ve thought about it from time to time. All I know is that when opening day comes in Ashley County Arkansas. I’ll be in a stand. I have to be.

21 09 2010
Jimmie Davis

I am an African American Hunter, I have only been at it full time for the past 3 years, but I got my start while stationed in North Carolina on Camp Lejeune. I currently live in South Dakota and the hunting here is good and there is alot of public land to hunt and I have also been able to land some private property to hunt. I have not had any issues in this state I have had a time or two when I felt uncomfortable in certain small towns, but I am a very confident person and carry myself that way so I think it has warded off any unsavory comments towards me. I am a little nervous because I am going back to North Carolina this year and I have become so in love with hunting that I don’t want to be restricted to hunting the base, however I have been in NC before and while the times have progressed I still know that me driving around looking for public property to hunt could be hazardous to my health. I think us African American Hunters should ban together and purchase property in different areas of the US to hunt, and I am not trying to exclude other hunters I am just stating that in order for US to progress an agenda of getting more African American Youths to nature via Hunting/Fishing and off the streets we must have access that we control.

22 09 2010

Thank you Jimmie. Your points are well taken. Access is a big issue in all the states. Keep huntin’ and fishin’ and take a kid with you.

26 11 2010
Marlon Carpenter

I would love to go hunting only if I could find a partner to go with me. I watch the hunting shows and none of the host are African American. I have heard the horror stories about the accidental shootings. Most African American Males can’t own guns because of their criminal background. If there is anyone in the state of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tenn. or Georgia who wants a hunting partner who loves to bow hunt please let me know and we can make that happen.

23 07 2012
Jordan Lawson

I am new to GA and would love to get out and hunt. I’m a beginner to say the least but if you’re still interested maybe we can put something together.

20 02 2011
carlos nembhard

I have always loved the outdoors. as a boy i used to take off with my friend to the jungle in Guatemala armed with tortillas and my sling shot after birds. When i got here in 1969 all that stopped. Fences everywhere. although i have camped and fished in the three western states including Alaska,i have never hunted because of the cost of the sport, and not being able to find someone to hunt with. The thought of a racial confrontation in the woods has aways bothered me. But this year God willing i will be hunting in So Cal with a white friend from my place of employment, in D11.

21 02 2011

When I talk about racism I am referring primarily to the system of barriers and hurdles to overcome which impact people of color. As you mentioned, its expensive. When I leave on a trip I have a wallet full of papers including drivers license and insurance, hunting license and tags, fishing license, concealed weapons permit, state duck stamp federal duck stamp, etc. I have not experienced any danger or confrontations in the woods with people. People are generally friendly as long as you are not tresspassing or taking their favorite hunting or fishing spot. There is a lot of land which is restricted by hunting leases, but there is still a lot of land available to hunt. So get out there as we do with our hunting and fishing friends regardless of race creed or color.!

26 08 2011
Kevin Burton

I have read several comment’s on the page..There is correction needed i am also a hunter a bowhunter at that. I’m a man not a african american but an american i was born in the united states and place no stipulation on myself there is no other skin tone greater or less if you are a natural born citizen you are an american, There shouldn’t be nothing infront of american period. “AMERICAN,” is what you are i attend 3-d shoot’s and everything and feel equal with other american’s.

26 08 2011

Thanks Kevin I respect your opinion but I want to acknowledge my heritage from further back in history. To say that needs correcting is to accept the that using the term African American is a mistake. I don’t believe it is a mistake but a choice as to how we view ourselves. That will be different based on our different life experiences.

17 02 2012
Eric Morris (Black Wolf Hunting Club)

While racism may exist within the hunting community, I believe that blacks are the biggest culprit of the racism. Timid, insecure blacks will often separate themselves from fellow white hunters. Older blacks are perhaps the worse in spreading the racism virus and telling stories of what happened in the past.

Having hunted extensively with white hunters, I’ve rarely had issues regarding racism. From the swamps of GA to the rolling hills of western oklahoma and many places in between, I’ve only had one incident where some comments were “jokingly” made towards me.

Issues usually arise when white hunters are outdone by a black hunter. Afterall, blacks aren’t known for being outdoorsmen or hunters, right? Some of the best lessons have been taught to me by white hunters. Its time to stop being timid sheep and focusing on racism within hunting and just go out and hunt.

Only the strong survive!

17 02 2012

Thank you for sharing your experience. My experience is very similar. Whites have been friendly to me and shared expertise and access to property and equipment. The common bond is our love of the sport. We just have to be prepared if some of the older hunters, or ones that have really not been exposed to many of us, use outdated terms such as colored or something. There is a mature way to bring them up to date.

1 08 2012

I am a white hunter from Va. My 2 best friends are black and we have been hunting together since we were 13. And in those 18 years now every gun or hunting show we go to we never see a African American presence there. That needs to change. We need more folks like you promoting African Americans in the outdoors. In my area of Va we are pretty rural but we do have a a good many African Americans. Alot of them fish but i have a hard time getting many to hunt with us. My best friend and his brother are the only ones in their family who hunt. My family has always been into hunting and my dad took me and Kevin when we were kids and he loved it and his brother caught on too. Sadly I do think racism plays some of a role in why there are so few in the sport. I know some of my black friends say hunting is for rednecks and they aint no redneck. Then I know rednecks in my area that are still ignorant and when they think of African Americans and guns they only see glocks and gangstas. Its just stupid but true.I also think the politcal state of our country has been causing a big devision too. Most white hunters a very conservative and most African Americans are liberal. So they automaticaly think each other are crazy. I hope we can all come together. I come from an interacial family and I took my cousin who is black hunting for the first time last thanksgiving and he loved it but he doesnt talk about it much to his black friends because he said they call him a redneck and tell him he doesnt belong in the woods. We need to change the perception of all hunters and hunting in general. We need to show that our great sport and the beautiful outdoors knows know color. I thank God for folks like you who are trying to bridge that gap. Our sport and heritage needs it. I had the pleasure of hosting Greg Abbas from Away Outdoors at our farm this spring and they too are doing a great job of bringing awareness that hunting has no bounds. I pray many blessings for you guys and your mission and will help out in any way I can.

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