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Hunting in the U.S. - statistics & facts

Not only is hunting a form of sports and recreation in the United States, it is also a way of life. What began as a necessity for survival developed into a time-honored tradition, as is evident from the regular number of participants hunting in the United States, with roughly 15 million hunters in 2020 alone. While hunting is generally regulated on a state-by-state basis, some species are protected by federal law. Special licenses are required to pursue protected species with specific rules detailing the type of game which can be hunted and the methods required for ethical hunting. As of November 2021, there were approximately 15.2 million hunting license holders in the United States.

The hunting industry in the U.S.

The hunting industry in the U.S. was able to weather the worst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which devastated several other sectors worldwide. The most recent figures for the market size of the hunting and trapping sector in the U.S. showed a slight increase in sector scale in 2021 compared to 2020. Notably, the market made up for losses in 2019 and grew in 2020, despite the health crisis. The industry also experienced a growth in the number of hunting and trapping businesses as well as in the number of hunting and trapping sector employees in 2020 and 2021.

Popular hunting methods

Although the type of firearm used is often restricted depending on the type of game being hunted and the area where the activity is taking place, some firearms are more popular than others. From the hunters who used bows, rifles, handguns, and shotguns for poaching animals in the U.S., rifles were the most popular firearm to be used in 2020. At least 11 million hunters used rifles in the U.S. in that year, whereas the number of hunters using shotguns in the U.S. was around 7.9 million. The least popular firearm of the ones mentioned above was the handgun, with only three million hunters using handguns in the U.S. in 2020.

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