Who do hunters trust the most and where do they get their information? From the “boots on the ground” would seem to be the answer.

It’s one of the many questions answered in the “National Dove Hunter Survey” conducted by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and USFWS. The survey was largely intended to test hunter attitudes toward steel shot (more on this in a future column in the magazine) but it contained other questions as well, including some designed to find out where hunters get their information and which sources they trust.

Being in the hunting information business myself, I was especially interested in that part. The survey asked if you place “high, medium, low or no trust” in various sources. Here’s how the 1100 hunters surveyed responded:
1.”Avid experienced dove hunters” won this survey in a walk, at 52.6% high trust
2.”Game Wardens” 36.9% high trust
3.”Wildlife Biologists” 27.2% high trust
4. “Hunting Organizations: 25% high trust
5.”Ammunition Manufacturers” 23.2% high trust
6.”Hunting Guides” 22.5% high trust
7.”Outdoors Writers/TV Personalities” 7.2% high trust
8. “Staff at sporting goods stores selling hunting supplies” 5.9 % high trust

The answers were broken down by region (East, Central, West) and while most answers varied no more than a point or so by region, it’s interesting to see that “Wildlife Biologists” are highly trusted by 27.3 % of easterners, 30.2% of central region hunters, but only by 19.4% of westerners, who are traditionally wary of government.

As for sources of hunting information, “Friends and family” beats every other source by a wide margin. “Magazines” did come in second, despite the fact that we “Outdoors writers/TV personalities” are widely seen as only slightly more trustworthy than sporting goods store employees and, I imagine, politicians and used car salesmen. That hurts, by the way.

Personally, I tend to trust wildlife biologists the most from list. Many hunting guides have a ton of experience in their particular area and usually know what they’re talking about unless they’re trying to sell you something. On the other hand, I tend to believe about half of what any self-proclaimed avid hunter tells me, unless it’s someone I know.

So, who do you trust?