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 aahunt.com

donnyadair@yahoo.com