Hunting Conservation photo

Although it shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog, a recent study by Responsive Management has put numbers to the motivations behind hunting–and meat came out on top. The study, which was released last Wednesday, asked Americans ages 18 and older about their most important reason for hunting in the prior year. Of those polled, 35 percent selected “for the meat” as the most important reason for their recent hunting participation, a 13 percent uptick from a similar survey conducted in 2006 when just 22 percent of hunters said “for the meat” was their biggest reason for going afield.

There is lots of speculation on why the pursuit of protein is the primary motivation for hunters going afield. The folks at Responsive Management list the ongoing recession as the number one reason, and I do believe there is some validity to that. As the press release states:

“As households throughout the country started to feel the effects of significant financial pressures several years ago (including frozen or reduced salaries and/or prolonged unemployment), more Americans likely turned to hunting as a way of obtaining relatively inexpensive venison and other meat to put food on the family table.”

However, there is some argument as to whether venison or other game meat is really that inexpensive. Personally, I believe it is, but it is hard to argue against the positions that game meat is actually very expensive when you roll in all the associative costs.

As for motivation for hunting, I agree with Bob St. Pierre over at Pheasants Forever that the upward trend in hunting for meat is more closely aligned with popular culture and the movement to natural, locally sourced foods. The “locavore” movement and an interest in artisanal food, in which hunted game plays a part, is also aligned with the recent increase in hunting license sales as more and more people take responsibility for what they eat.

As I said, this trend shouldn’t come as a surprise to Wild Chef readers, but I am interested in your opinions. What is your primary reason for hunting and do you agree that the public-opinion pendulum has swung back toward hunting as an honest and humane way to gather one’s own food?

You can read more about the Responsive Management study here.