COVID-19 hit every aspect of life as hard as it could. Uncertainty and a healthy dose of fear led to stir-craziness and burnout. Plant nurseries saw a drastic increase in customers wanting to start gardens, home improvement project numbers soared, and many people found or rediscovered a love of nature.
In the hunting niche, 2020 saw a sharp increase in the number of hunters. COVID-19 lockdowns gave people extra time to get out into the field; for others, it motivated becoming more self-reliant amid food security threats and an interest in local food sourcing.
While this growth spurt of new hunters is exciting, some areas experienced over-crowded hunting grounds and an increase in illegal hunting. Overall, an increase in new, young hunters is considered good for hunting conservation.
Way before the pandemic hit, the number of hunters in the U.S. has been steadily dropping since the 1980s. There are a few theories floating around as to why that is, and a combination of them is probably the reality.
We know for sure that people who hunted as adults in the 1980s are now getting older and retiring or passing away without the same number of young people to follow in their footsteps. Data shows that most hunters stop buying licenses and actively hunting around 65 years old.
Some other academics say that hunting may go extinct forever as areas become more urbanized and families become smaller in size. Fewer hunters mean less conservation funding, which leads to department cuts. Some states have already had to cut funding to programs addressing invasive species and poaching because of lower funds in recent years.