A recent University of Wisconsin-Madison survey found that the most important motivations for hunters in Wisconsin are spending time outdoors and being close to nature.
The survey of state hunting and conservation organization members found the following were either “very motivating” or “extremely motivating” reasons for participating in the activity: spending time outdoors (98 percent); being close to nature (92 percent); opportunities to use skills and knowledge, (89 percent); spending time with friends (86 percent); spending time with family (81 percent); obtaining meat (60 percent); and getting trophy animals (19 percent).
These findings confirm previous research suggesting that over time, hunter motivations have shifted away from achievement-oriented reasons, such as getting trophy animals, and toward other reasons such as enjoying nature. The findings suggest emphasizing the opportunity to be close to nature to non-hunters potentially interested in participating in hunting may be an effective way to promote and increase interest in hunting.
The survey is part of a larger research initiative called the Hunters Network of Wisconsin, a partnership with the state Department of Natural Resources, UW Extension and UW-Madison aimed at informing the hunter recruitment and retention efforts of Wisconsin’s over 600 hunting organizations.
The percentage of the population that hunts in Wisconsin and nationwide has declined during past decades. Research suggests this may be partly due to broad societal changes such as urbanization and competing time commitments.
“Our results suggest spending time outdoors and connecting with nature are major motivators for Wisconsin hunters,” said Bret Shaw, assistant professor in UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication and an environmental communication specialist for the UW Extension.
“This finding is important because it demonstrates that, in Wisconsin, hunting seems to be an important way to connect our increasingly urban society to the natural world,” he said.