You can’t trust everything you hear. These days, it’s easier than ever for people to share “news” from noncredible sources, to spread rumors and to gossip about topics they do not fully understand. Sometimes people and even companies make claims about hunters and hunting that simply aren’t true — but because only 4% of Americans 18 and older hunt, the truth can become buried. And unfortunately, nonhunters might not know fact from fiction.
We’re here to test your knowledge of hunting with a fun game of “fact or myth?” Make your guesses and learn which claims are true and which ones aren’t, so that you can set the record straight about hunters and hunting.
Fact! According to the 2019 National Shooting Sports Foundation report, 84% of Americans approve of hunting for meat. Additionally, 80% of Americans approve of hunting with a bow and arrow. A 2014 Responsive Management study also found that 88% of respondents approve of legal, regulated hunting.
Although approval rates are high among Americans, many people are intimidated to start hunting because they think it’s complicated, can’t find a place to hunt or don’t have social support or encouragement. Browse the Bowhunting 360 website to find great articles to answer your questions and help you get started.
If you’re a bowhunter and want to mentor a beginner or recruit your friends and family members, read these articles:
Myth! In fact, in today’s world, regulated hunting almost universally benefits wildlife. Hunters play a vital role in maintaining healthy population levels and financially supporting conservation programs and wildlife management efforts — but that wasn’t always the case.
This myth was largely accurate in the late 1700s and early 1800s when European settlers cleared land for farming and industry and began hunting and trapping for European commercial markets. Habitat was lost, and wildlife populations shrank. Bison, beavers, deer and turkeys were all threatened. By the mid-19th century, Americans began to realize that unrestricted killing of wildlife for food, fashion and commerce was destroying irreplaceable resources. Legislators started to create laws that protected wildlife and wild places, and populations and landscapes rebounded.
Not one wildlife species in the U.S. has become endangered or extinct from hunting since laws and regulationswere established. These laws are enforced by conservation officers, aka game wardens. Today, hunters must follow local, state and federal laws regarding season dates, shooting times, harvest limits, weapon restrictions and more. These regulations change based on research and science to ensure wildlife populations are healthy and sustainable. Violators of the regulations are called poachers and should be reported.
Additionally, hunters generate funds that further ensure game and nongame species remain healthy, stable and abundant. They do this thanks to the Wildlife Restoration Act, aka Pittman-Robertson Act, which passed in 1937 and raises money for state wildlife agencies in the form of taxes on firearms, ammunition and hunting equipment. State agencies use the funds to pay for high-priority conservation initiatives such as habitat restoration, restocking programs, hunter education programs and public-land access and acquisitions. Hunters have generated over $19 billion for conservation since 1937. Funds from archery equipment (which started being taxed in 1972 through the P-R Act) recently exceeded $1 billion. America’s thriving wildlife populations are evidence of the effectiveness of hunting as a conservation tool. For example, the number of white-tailed deer and wild turkeys in America today is similar to the estimated populations of precolonial times.
Fact! Few state wildlife agencies receive funding from general taxpayers. Instead, agencies rely primarily on two funding sources — hunting and fishing license fees; and federal excise taxes paid on firearms, ammunition and archery gear through the P-R Act (described above).
Hunters play a significant role in conservation. Hunters have generated $900 million for state wildlife agencies by buying hunting licenses, tags and permits. Those revenues allow the agencies to manage fish, wildlife and their habitats for people to enjoy. State agencies wouldn’t exist without help from hunters, anglers, archers and firearm owners. Learn more about state wildlife agencies and their funding sources here.
The contributions hunters make to the U.S. economy are also substantial. In addition to licenses and equipment, hunters regularly travel for hunting trips and spend money on food, lodging and transportation. They also pay for land leases, farm equipment for habitat management, membership dues to conservation organizations, and media like magazines and books. In 2016, expenditures from hunters totaled more than $26 billion in the U.S. Using the multiplier effect, which is the progression of money through several levels and industries within our economy, the value of hunter spending in 2016 was estimated at $36 billion for the economy, supporting as many as 525,000 jobs in different sectors.
Myth! Talk to a hunter, and you’ll find their pursuit of an animal comes from their deep respect and admiration for the animal. You’ll discover hunters seek to make a quick, humane kill. They recognize game species are living creatures, and they seek to limit pain and suffering by practicing regularly, using quality equipment, making smart shooting decisions and learning deer anatomy and shot placement.
Hunters also follow fair chase principles: the act of balancing skills and equipment with the prey’s ability to elude and escape. Responsible hunters do not take unfair advantage of their prey. The Pope and Young Clubexplores this topic extensively.
Hunters regularly volunteer their time for conservation projects, pick up trash when afield, donate money to state wildlife agencies and join conservation organizations. Land management is also important to hunters and beneficial to wildlife. Hunters plant food plots, manage forests and conduct prescribed burns. These efforts prove hunters cherish wildlife and dedicate their time, money and resources to ensure wildlife and wild places remain healthy.
Myth! When American hunters were asked to choose their single, most important reason for hunting, 39% said they hunt for meat, 27% hunt for the sport or recreation, 18% hunt to be with family and friends, 11% hunt to be close to nature and 1% hunt for a trophy. This information came from a 2017 Responsive Management study. Additionally, regardless of their motivation, wasting game meat is illegal, and states have strict laws against it. In most instances, people can’t legally shoot an animal for its horns or antlers and leave the meat behind.
Another 2017 survey titled “Hunting, Fishing, Sport Shooting and Archery Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation: A Practitioner’s Guide” found 95% of all U.S. hunters eat the meat from their harvest. If they have a surplus of meat, they share it with friends or donate it to food pantries or organizations that distribute it to those in need, such as Hunters for the Hungry, which has provided over 29.6 million servings of meat from hunters’ donations since its inception in 1991.
It’s apparent hunters enjoy wild game meat. Many seek to fill their freezer and eat their harvest throughout the year to avoid buying store-bought meat. Plus, game meat is lean, organic, hormone-free and more nutritious than most meats. A 3.5-ounce chunk of beef has 276 calories and 23 grams of fat, while an equal portion of venison has 120 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Although hunters enjoy wild game meat, they truly value the adventure, experience and challenge of hunting. The antlers are a bonus and serve as a reminder of the time afield.
Anti-hunters often share false information and paint inaccurate photos of hunters and hunting. But the truth is legal hunters care about wildlife, they don’t waste meat, and they dedicate a lot of their time and money to hunting and America’s natural resources. Their efforts and contributions help sustain state wildlife agencies, support the economy, protect wildlife and wild places and create a natural environment for future generations to enjoy. Those are facts to be proud of.