The More, The Merrier

Survey finds hunter numbers increase; Author says youth push aided gains

The More, The Merrier
Youth hunting book author Shawn Meyer takes his children on hunts to fuel their interest. (Courtesy Shawn Meyer)

Hunting numbers are up, reversing a previous downward trend, according to a national survey released this month.

Shawn Meyer, an author of children’s hunting books and a general youth hunting advocate, said increased interest in getting young people involved in hunting is one of the primary reasons for the increase.

“I’m not surprised,” Meyer said. “More kids are getting involved and that helps those numbers.”

The number of people aged 16 and older participating in hunting in the United States increased 9 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Series and the Department of Interior. A survey conducted by the USFWS showed an increase from 12.5 million in 2006 to 13.7 million in 2011.


Final data will be included in the USFWS 2011 National Survey Report, which will be available in November. The USFWS has conducted a national survey every five years since 1955.


According to the report, 1.8 million children aged 6 to 15 hunted in 2011, up from 1.6 million in 2006. The National Youth Hunting Association has chapters in every state, providing education and training in hunting and conservation.

Meyer said his interest in authoring children’s hunting books began inside his own home.

Shawn Meyer's first youth hunting book was "Connor's Big Hunt." (Courtesy Shawn Meyer)

“When I initially wrote my first book, my biggest motive was introducing my kids to hunting,” said Meyer, who is the father of seven children, aged 12 to 1. “I went looking for some hunting books for children, and I couldn’t find any.

“Some of my fondest memories were hunting and fishing with my father, and I wanted my children to experience that as well. Now there are lots more children’s hunting books, and I rejoice when I see that – don’t see it as competition.”


Meyer, 41, who lives in Rockford, Ohio, published his first book, “Connor’s Big Hunt,” in 2005. His second, “Connor’s Spring Gobbler,” came in 2007. More books are on the way, he said.

The USFWS survey noted that among nation’s 13.7 million hunters, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million small game and 2.6 million migratory birds.

Meyer said his children enjoy it all. The game he hunts with his children include deer, turkey and dove.


“Dove hunting is great for kids,” Meyer said. “Lots of action. But my kids are crazy about hunting, no matter what it is.”

The benefits of hunting with children far outweigh one’s own hunting exploits, Meyer said.

“We’ve been hunting all of our lives, and we’ve killed 30, 40 deer,” he said. “Believe me, you get much more satisfaction seeing a 12-year-old getting his first deer than you getting your 50th.”

Meyer said parents must be wary of pushing their children too hard into hunting; more gentle methods typically work much better. Also, he said watching at an early age will result in more joyful participation later for younger children.

“I’m not one to throw a 7-year-old child in a blind with a gun,” he said. “My thing has always been: Watch Dad. They’re with me, watching when they’re young. They gain appreciation and they learn the skills. It also creates more excitement when they do get that first deer.”

Other highlights from the USFWS’s preliminary report include:

  • Hunters spent an average of 21 days in the field during 2011.
  • Expenditures by hunters, fishermen and wildlife recreationists were $145 billion, 1 percent of the gross national product.
  • Total hunter expenditures have increased 27 percent since 2001.
  • Hunting related expenses have increased 30 percent since 2006.
  • Big game attracted 11.6 million hunters, an 8-percent increase since 2006.

For the USFWS preliminary report, click here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Rapala OG Slim 6

Rapala OG Slim 6

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic champ Ott Defoe sits down with In-Fisherman Associate Publisher Todd Ceisner, to talk about Rapala's new OG Slim 6 crankbait. The OG Slim 6 will feature a flat-sided, balsa body, and will dive around 6 feet. Featuring a circuit board lip, the OG Slim 6 deflects off of cover better than traditional plastic lips. Offered in 14 colors and available in tackle stores Fall 2020. MSRP $10.99.

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

In this ICAST Fishing Gear Guide video, Mark Mills with Daiwa and Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley talk off-shore fishing gear.

Huk Waypoint Collection

Huk Waypoint Collection

Huk's new Waypoint Collection fishing apparel is conservation-minded by using recycled water bottles.

Tackle Test 2020: Lew

Tackle Test 2020: Lew's Pro-Ti Speed Stick

Tackle Test 2020: Lew's Pro-Ti Speed Stick

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them. Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

From jigs to swimbaits, there are lots of great new choices unveiled at virtual fishing trade show. ICAST

New Freshwater Soft Lures from ICAST 2020

Game & Fish Staff - July 20, 2020

From jigs to swimbaits, there are lots of great new choices unveiled at virtual fishing trade...

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Last year alone, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act was responsible for $100 million in funding to benefit game, fish and other wildlife in the United States. Conservation & Politics

At Issue: Greenbacks for Greenheads (and Other Game)

Andrew McKean - August 04, 2020

Last year alone, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act was responsible for $100 million...

 Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin 30.30 Stories

Grandpa's Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever seen. Whitetail

The Story Behind Brewster's World-Record Buck

Lynn Burkhead - October 17, 2019

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever...

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season. Whitetail

Oklahoma's Big Archery Bucks of 2018

Kelly Bostian

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now