R3

2018 National Upland Bird Hunting Survey

August 21, 2018

2018 National Upland Bird Hunting Survey

A Look into the effectiveness of Lifestyle Marketing and its effects on variable Upland hunting demographics across the United States

To cite this report: DeRosa A., Hervey C., St. Andre J. (2018)

2018 UPLAND HUNTING SURVEY: A Look into the effectiveness of Lifestyle Marketing and its effects on variable Upland hunting demographics across the United States

Executive Summary

Introduction

 In response to declining hunter participation numbers throughout the Unites States, Federal and State Agencies along with industry NGO’s have spearheaded a recent surge in hunter Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation efforts on a national level. The effect of hunter decline is widely felt throughout the conservation field with potential to negatively impact a broad spectrum of environmental, cultural and social issues.

Recruitment, retention and reactivation, or more commonly referred to as R3, is essential to addressing this decline and prioritizing efforts to prevent overall loss of culture and conservation funding. R3 professionals throughout the nation have identified numerous strategies to combat this decline based upon documented shortcomings throughout agency and industry.

Advances in technology have recently caused drastic changes to how information is not only gathered, but also perceived, creating a drastic reduction in the efficacy of current hunting oriented media in which to support R3 efforts. Dovetailed with the decline of quality hunting related content, the constant evolution of social marketplaces has increased the need for culturally savvy marketing and media companies to interject and increase appeal to non-traditional hunting demographics.

The overlying goal of this survey was to help analyze hunting perceptions and 21st-century media trends among non-traditional demographics attaching a measure beyond “views” to our media concepts.

Survey Objectives

 The objectives of the Northwoods Collective 2018 Upland Hunting Survey were to identify the current demographics within the upland hunting industry and the changes in viewership and participation trends as they relate to modern lifestyle marketing. The upland hunting community was chosen as the token focus of the survey due to the long standing perception of elitism within this market and the exclusions felt by newcomers as a result of that perception.

Through questioning, individual groups within the modern upland hunting culture were identified within this survey to document differences between age cohorts and identify possible changes to modern R3 marketing and media efforts to directly address the decline in hunting participation. Questions within the survey were aimed to identify the motivations of these age cohorts and their tendencies and habits within the culture.

Special attention was payed to identify changes in the ways that both current and aspiring hunters both gather and perceive current available media. The results of the survey are intended to shed light on the realities of current media and the potential benefits that lifestyle marketing and media efforts can deliver to the hunting R3 community.

In addition to benefiting the R3 community with some statistics into current hunting culture, the survey results can also be used for a glimpse into the benefits that lifestyle branding campaigns can have on drawing new audiences. While R3 was an overlying focus of the survey, Northwoods Collective staff directed portions of the survey to benefit hunting industry retailers and guide services through identifying purchasing and other expenditure trends.

Methodology

Northwoods Collective staff conceptualized, created and implemented the 2018 upland hunting survey completely “in-house.” Through cooperation with Pineridge Grouse Camp, Project Upland brand followers were enticed to participate in the survey through a giveaway prize of a upland “dream hunt” in Remer Minnesota priced at a value of $3,200.

Participants were gathered through targeted marketing of social media channels and web based applications. The chosen medium for gathering respondents was selected due to the overwhelming universal access to social media and web based applications through handheld mobile devices and desktop computers.

Facebook, Instagram, generated email lists and search engine optimization were all tackled to achieve strategic exposure of the survey specifically to followers of the lifestyle brand – Project Upland – who utilize modern technology and social marketplaces. While the survey was directed strictly to these upland oriented hunters/band followers, questions which would identify adjacent pursuits and participation within other forms of hunting were asked to gather additional insight and increase accuracy as it relates to the broader hunting culture.

Participants were asked questions which identified specific hunting gear habits and preferences, public/private land usage and gauged current media preferences. Additionally, respondents rated traditional hunting marketing/media (i.e. print and cable TV) against modern hunting media developed using lifestyle marketing techniques. The data aimed to gather the perceptions and reactions to each as they relate to the respondents personal experience.

The survey incorporated a split to gain further insight to potential deliverables to the R3 space focusing on respondents specifically targeted within the R3 movement. Respondents within each category were asked seven of the same questions for comparison between the groups. The last of the several questions featured a personal opinion piece containing eleven viewpoints in which the respondents either agreed or disagreed at varying levels. Each group was also asked unique questions relative to their self-identified level of interest and experience in both upland and other forms of hunting.

The focus groups were surveyed throughout a period of three weeks during the month of February when the majority of hunting activity is at its lowest participation throughout the year and spanned the entirety of the United States.  The survey took an average of seven minutes to complete and garnered a 98% completion rate. The findings of the survey are reported at a 95% confidence interval with a sampling error of less than 3%.

Limitations

 The focus of this study was directed to users which utilize modern technology and does not necessarily present the views of generational cohorts less apt to use such technological interfaces. Generalizations about broader hunting populations based on the results of this study should therefore be cautiously interpreted.

List of Tables/Graphs

Section 1 – Initial Screening

Questions to all respondents

Table 1: What best describes where you live?

Table 2: What is your gender?

Table 3: What is your age?

Table 4: What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?

Table 5: Which of the following categories best describes your employment status?

Table 6: How much total combined money did all members of your HOUSEHOLD earn last year?

Table 7: Do you have any children under 18 that live with you?

Table 8: Which of the following best describes your current relationship status?

Table 9: Did either of your parents hunt?

Section 2 – Survey Split

Table 10: Which answer best describes your relationship with upland bird hunting?

Section 3 – “I consider upland hunting part of my lifestyle” – “I consider upland hunting a hobby”

Table 11: Which best describes the land you hunt?

Table 12: Do you hunt upland birds with a dog?

Table 13: Do you own a hunting dog?

Table 14: Which best describes your upland hunting shotgun of choice?

Table 15: How much money are you willing to spend on your dream upland hunting shotgun?

Table 16: What shotgun gauge do you prefer most?

Table 17: How much ammo do you typically use hunting upland birds in a season?

Table 18: How many days on average do you spend hunting upland birds in a year?

Table 19: How many upland bird hunting trips (on average) do you go on in a year?

Table 20: What statement would best describe where these trips are located?

Table 21: How often do you shoot trap or skeet in the off season?

Table 22: Do you belong to any non-profit groups related to upland bird hunting?

Table 23: How did you hear about Project Upland?

Table 24: Which platform do you use most often to view hunting media?

Table 25: Which device do you use most often to view hunting media?

Table 26: Which do you prefer most in hunting entertainment?

Section 4 – “I want to be an upland hunter”

Table 27: Have you ever hunted before?

Table 28: If yes, what type of hunting have you done? (if no select N/A)

Table 29: Do you own a hunting dog?

Table 30: Do you own a shotgun?

Table 31: Have you completed an official hunters education/safety class from a state agency?

Table 32: Would you participate in a hands on class offered by a State agency or non-profit which taught the basic fundamentals of hunting upland game?

Table 33: If yes, would you be willing to pay a small fee for the class?

Table 34: Do you have access to a shooting range?

Table 35: Are you a member of a sportsman’s club?

Table 36: What steps do you feel are most important before you go afield on an upland hunt? Rank in order of most importance from most important (1) to least important (5).

Table 37: Would you consider using a phone app to find public land hunting opportunities for upland game?

Table 38: How did you hear about Project Upland?

Table 39: Which platform do you use most often to view hunting media?

Table 40: Which device do you use most often to view hunting media?

Table 41: Which do you prefer most in hunting entertainment?

Section 5 – Comparative analysis

Graph 1: How did you hear about Project Upland?

Graph 2: Which platform do you use most often to view hunting media?

Graph 3: Which device do you use most often to view hunting media?

Graph 4: Which do you prefer most in hunting entertainment?

Section 5-1 – Agree/disagree opinion questions

Table 42: I think Project Upland portrays upland hunting in a positive manner

Table 43: I think Project Upland has a positive impact on me wanting to go upland bird hunting

Table 44: I think Project Upland accurately represents me as a hunter

Table 45: I think cable hunting shows accurately represent me as a hunter

Table 46: I think cable hunting shows paint an accurate picture of what I can expect when I go afield

Table 47: I think the word sport accurately describes upland bird hunting

Table 48: I think upland hunting is an activity in which an individual competes against another or others for entertainment

Table 49: I think hunting should be competitive

Table 50: I believe upland hunting is a sustainable culture

Appendix A

Table 13: Top four most popular dog breeds – breakdown of all listed breeds

Table 22: Other National NGO’s and Non-Profits listed

Table 31: Number of years since respondents took hunter education

Table 36: What steps do you feel are most important before you go afield on an upland hunt? Rank in order of most importance from most important (1) to least important (5).

SURVEY RESULTS

Section 1: Initial Screening

Section 1 Overview

The initial screening section of the survey was designed to present a demographic profile for the collective following of the lifestyle brand Project Upland. The topics covered were residency, gender, age, education, household income, work habits, marital status, family background and personal level of interest in hunting. These questions were designed to deliver data which could be accurately compared to other national hunting surveys.

The data represented within this initial screening illustrates the effective reach of lifestyle marketing covering the full spectrum of age cohorts spanning 50 years. Where most typical surveys would identify the “typical upland hunter” through the data, the 2018 National Upland Hunting Survey reveals that there is no “typical upland hunter” within a following when a model is designed with modern tactics.

What State do you reside in?

Alabama (1.07%), Alaska (0.33%), Arizona (1.00%), Arkansas (0.73%), California (2.47%), Colorado (2.67%), Connecticut (1.13%), Delaware (0%), District of Columbia DC (0.07%), Florida (1.07%), Georgia (1.80%), Hawaii (0%), Idaho (1.47%), Illinois (3.13%), Indiana (1.40%), Iowa (2.07%), Kansas (1.40%), Kentucky (1.40%), Louisiana (0.20%), Maine (1.27%), Maryland (0.87%), Massachusetts (1.67%), Michigan (10.73%), Minnesota (9.67%), Mississippi (0.40%), Missouri (1.33%), Montana (1.33), Nebraska (1.40%), Nevada (0.47%), New Hampshire (1.53%), New Jersey (1.87%), New Mexico (0.07%), New York (4.60%), North Carolina (3.37%), North Dakota (0.80%), Ohio (4.60%), Oklahoma (0.60%), Oregon (0.67%), Pennsylvania (6.40%), Rhode Island (0.27%), South Carolina (1.53%), South Dakota (0.80%), Tennessee (1.47%), Texas (2.93%), Utah (1.27%), Vermont (0.53%), Virginia (3.47%), Washington (1.60%), West Virginia (1.13%), Wisconsin (7.07%), Wyoming (0.53%).

 

Table 1: What best describes where you live?
Answer Choices Responses
Rural 44.93%
Suburban 44.27%
Urban 10.80%

Interestingly, participants living in rural areas were the same as suburban areas with both cohorts registering at 44%. The remaining 12% of respondents identified as residing in urban areas creating a cumulative following of 56% non-rural.

Table 2: What is your gender
Answer Choices Responses
Female 5.73%
Male 94.27%

An overwhelming majority of respondents identified as male (93.33%) and female participants (6.67%). A recent national upland survey* from NSSF puts upland participation rates at 96% male.

Table 3: What is Your Age?
Answer Choices Responses
18 to 24 3.40%
25 to 34 25.00%
35 to 44 20.73%
45 to 54 21.07%
55 to 64 20.33%
65 to 74 8.40%
75 or older 1.07%

 

  • The data presents a fairly uniform following from ages 25 to 65.
  • Ages 25-34 made up the largest age cohort at 25%
Table 4: What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?
Answer Choices Responses
Less than high school degree 0.20%
High school degree or equivalent (e.g., GED) 9.20%
Some college but no degree 18.60%
Associate degree 10.07%
Bachelor degree 40.13%
Graduate degree 21.80%
 Table 5: Which of the following categories best describes your employment status?
Answer Choices Responses
Employed, working full-time 79.67%
Employed, working part-time 5.20%
Not employed, looking for work 0.93%
Not employed, NOT looking for work 0.93%
Retired 12.80%
Disabled, not able to work 0.47%
Table 6: How much total combined money did all members of your HOUSEHOLD earn last year?
Answer Choices Responses
$0 to $9,999 0.53%
$10,000 to $24,999 1.33%
$25,000 to $49,999 7.00%
$50,000 to $74,999 15.53%
$75,000 to $99,999 16.67%
$100,000 to $124,999 15.07%
$125,000 to $149,999 10.73%
$150,000 to $174,999 8.87%
$175,000 to $199,999 2.87%
$200,000 and up 10.93%
Prefer not to answer 10.47%
Table 7: Do you have any children under 18 that live with you?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 37.40%
No 48.67%
I do not have children 13.93%

It should be noted that only 13.93% of respondents did not have children. The majority of respondents – 49% – had children that did not live at home. A promising statistic for R3 professionals was the 38% of respondents which had children under the age of 18 living with them. This number is promising as parents (i.e. social support) are thought to be the number one recruitment tool for growing participation numbers.

Table 8: Which of the following best describes your current relationship status?
Answer Choices Responses
Married 76.67%
Widowed 0.67%
Divorced 4.53%
Separated 0.33%
In a domestic partnership or civil union 1.13%
Single, but cohabiting with a significant other 7.53%
Single, never married 9.13%
Table 9: Did either of your parent’s hunt?
Answer Choices Responses
Father 63.53%
Mother 0.47%
Both 6.60%
Neither 29.40%

One of the more notable data sets received from the initial screening questions identified that 30% of all followers of the lifestyle brand were first generation hunters, meaning neither of their parents hunted. Not unexpectedly, 63.53% of respondents identified that just their father hunted, 0.47% just their mother hunted and 6.60% came from a family where both parents hunted.

Section 1 Overview/Discussion

The initial screening piece of the survey identified that the lifestyle marketing techniques used by Northwoods Collective within the Project Upland platform held a combined 56% following from urban and suburban residences. The survey sample proved to be diversely spread throughout the nation with the slightly higher averages coming from rural states rich in hunting culture. This data would suggest that key demographics (urban and suburban) at stake within R3, self identify with the lifestyle portrayal brought on by the Project Upland brand are likely far higher than national averages.

The lifestyle brand following shows a nearly even distribution from ages 25-65 with the highest average (25%) being between ages 25-34. This statistic is significantly higher than traditional ages of engagement within hunting and hunting media. Whereas typical age demographics are representative of the current age of hunters, the nearly even distribution of age classes suggests the lifestyle marketing techniques have significant reach within age cohorts where traditional contact/engagement have proved difficult. Recent R3 data shows significant long term success using this age cohort as a path to recruitment. This is the age class most likely to be in the initial phases of starting a family therefore inevitably recruiting their youth and providing one of the critical social support pieces necessary for continuation.

The number of respondents with children under 18 (36%) consumed the entire largest age cohort (ages 25-34) and half of the next age cohort (ages 35-44) from the cumulative lifestyle brand following. According to the US Census, ages 30-34 were the most common ages for both men and women to start having children placing these top age percentages as those with child dependents. This comparison draws a fairly clear picture of the lifestyle brand following within these age cohorts as part of a family group. This age demographic and family orientation creates an ideal setting for increased recruitment.

The Lifestyle brand following displayed a significantly higher level of education from the representative sample than the education level of hunters identified within national studies. Data showed that 62% of respondents had a bachelor degree or higher with over 20% of those having a graduate degree or higher. Other national studies state that on average 33%* of adults hold a bachelor degree. While the advanced level of education of a lifestyle brand can’t truly be confirmed without further research, it is assumed that due to the educational undertones embedded within content of conservation, habitat and species specific information in addition to skills and gear knowledge appeal to a much broader spectrum of education levels than traditional media.

Closing out the initial screening was the perhaps one of the most intriguing data sets of the entire survey. The lifestyle brand Project Upland effectively has a following of 30% which are first generation hunters. Coupled with some of the higher than average demographics represented within the survey, this 30% of followers represents perhaps the most sought after demographics in terms of R3.

These are hunters which have either already been through the recruitment process and are entering the retention phase of the ORAM or they are still within the recruitment phase. This avid brand following from those who self-identified their level of participation reveals that these first generation hunters are those who have formed their identity around upland hunting in the absence of being predisposed to the culture through family.

Interestingly, the total percentage of respondents which considered upland hunting “part of their lifestyle or hobby” suggests that the majority of this 30% of first generation hunters are on a successful recruitment path. The fact that they follow and identify themselves with the brand shows the utility of lifestyle marketing when used to compliment current recruitment efforts of agencies and NGO’s.

Section 2: Survey Split

Built into the survey design was a question which prompted a self-identification of the respondent position on the ORAM (Outdoor Recreation Adoption Model). This split was designed to allow for comparisons between aspiring upland hunters and those who are already within the “continuation without support” bracket of the ORAM (i.e. veteran hunters). When asked “Which answer best describes your relationship with upland bird hunting?” the choices were as follows:

I consider it part of my lifestyle; I consider it a hobby; I want to become an upland hunter.

Depending on the respondent’s selection, those who identified themselves within the lifestyle or hobby level of participation were put in the same category and were asked the same questions throughout the remainder of the survey. Respondents who self-identified within the “aspiring upland hunter” category were asked seven identical questions as the “lifestyle” or “hobby” hunter categories. While each category was asked these same seven questions for analytical comparison, there were eleven unique questions offered to the aspiring upland hunters to gauge their current position on the ORAM amongst other motivations and interests.

Table 10: Which answer best describes your relationship with upland bird hunting?
Answer Choices Responses
I consider it part of my lifestyle 77.33%
I consider it a hobby 16.13%
I want to become an upland hunter 5.93%

The majority of brand followers self identified that they considered upland hunting as part of their lifestyle or a hobby. Respondents which chose to self-identify as an aspiring upland hunter in which case we asked a suite of unique questions for further R3 evaluation. Aspiring upland hunters ranged from novice, interested participants with no previous hunting knowledge to hunters who had tried other forms of hunting but have become interested in pursuing upland game.

Splitting the survey at this point was critical to gaining insight to a number of segments attached to the active hunting community. The focus here was to identify current habits and gear preferences, NGO membership rates, viewership trends and a whole suite of information geared specifically toward industry product companies and guide services.

This split also allowed us to gain an inside look into “newly recruited” or “aspiring” hunters who are somewhere within the initial stages of the ORAM to gain a better understanding of the possible recruitment paths, informational needs and media preferences. While this data did not provide a skeleton key to the doors of recruitment, it did confirm that some of the strategies used in the lifestyle branding process were successful and confirm the positive effects of lifestyle marketing as an R3 tool.

 Section 3:

“I consider upland hunting part of my lifestyle” – “I consider upland hunting a hobby”

Section 3 overview

The majority of upland lifestyle or hobbyist data was on point with many national averages regarding the number of days afield, hunting trips and trip locations. Certain sets of data from this sample group of respondents are very specific to the pursuit of upland hunting and help bring insight to the particular habits of upland hunters nationwide.

As part of the lifestyle marketing techniques utilized within the Project Upland platform, adjacent pursuits play a vital role in the success of modernized marketing. In the case of upland hunters; dogs fill in the adjacent pursuit’s category but they are just one of numerous very identifiable traits that the overwhelming majority of upland hunters share.

The representative data in this section of the survey is directed to identifying particular habits of upland hunters. Favorite dog breeds, preferred action types and gauge of shotguns, NGO membership status and others provide a glimpse beyond the basic demographic makeup of the upland community. The following questions were asked only to those respondents which identified that they considered upland hunting part of their lifestyle or a hobby.

Table 11: Which best describes the land you hunt?
Answer Choices Responses
Only on public land 17.80%
Mostly on public land 39.83%
On public and private land equally 27.40%
Mostly on private land 13.28%
Only on private land 1.69%
Table 12: Do you hunt upland birds with a dog?
Answer Choices Responses
Always 83.19%
Sometimes 13.28%
Never 3.53%

(Above) The data represented within the survey shows us just over 83% of upland hunters use a dog to hunt every time they go afield.

(Below) While 42% of respondents owned only one dog, just over 42% of respondents own two or more dogs leaving less than 15% of upland hunters as the small minority of dog-less hunters.

Table 13: Do you own a hunting dog?
Answer Choices Responses
1 Dog 42.58%
2 Dogs 29.38%
3 or More Dogs 13.14%
No, but considering it 9.04%
No 5.86%

If yes, please list breed or breeds

(*see Appendix A for list of breeds)

Table 14: Which best describes your upland hunting shotgun of choice?
Answer Choices Responses
Over and Under 46.82%
Side by Side 26.84%
Semi-Auto 18.93%
Pump Action 7.42%
Table 15: How much money are you willing to spend on your dream upland hunting shotgun?
Answer Choices Responses
$0 to $500 2.75%
$500 to $1000 16.03%
$1000 to $2000 40.25%
$2000 to $5000 32.70%
$5000 or greater 8.26%

This question contains possible bias results due to the word “dream” in the question phrasing. This phrasing may present the perception that it is unachievable and doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual amount that each upland hunter will spend on their shotgun of choice.

Table 16: What shotgun gauge do you prefer most?
Answer Choices Responses
12 Gauge 31.57%
16 Gauge 13.28%
20 Gauge 46.26%
28 Gauge 8.47%
.410 0.42%
 Table 17: How much ammunition do you typically use hunting upland birds in a season?
Answer Choices Responses
Less than one box (25 shells to a box) 4.66%
1 Box 7.77%
2 to 5 Boxes 49.22%
6 to 9 Boxes 23.31%
1 to 2 cases (250 Shells (or 10 Boxes) to a case) 12.36%
More than 2 cases 2.68%
Table 18: How many days (on average) do you hunt upland birds in a year?
Answer Choices Responses
1 to 5 Days 7.13%
6 to 10 Days 15.89%
11 to 20 days 33.76%
21 to 30 Days 24.51%
More than 30 days 18.71%
Table 19: How many upland bird hunting trips (on average) do you go on in a year?
Answer Choices Responses
1 to 2 trips 39.41%
3 to 5 trips 26.91%
5 to 10 trips 13.63%
10 or more trips 11.37%
none 8.69%

The high percentage of upland hunters who self-identify themselves at the lifestyle level of commitment lends itself to large majority of hunters who will plan vacations and or free time around trips involving their lifestyle pursuit. In excess of 90% of upland hunters venture on some type of excursion away from their local covers. While the majority of these hunters only go on one or two trips per year (39.41%), a respectable percentage (26.91%) goes on three to five trips per year.

Table 20: What statement would best describe where these trips are located?
Answer Choices Responses
In my home state 29.52%
Mostly in my home state 22.03%
Half in home state half out of state 17.58%
Mostly out of state 16.74%
Always out of state 7.20%
I do not go on hunting trips 6.92%

Out of state travel is limited within the upland hunting community. 29.52% report only going on upland hunting trips within their home state.  A combined percentage of 39.61% report half or more of their trips taking place in their home state. Perhaps further research is needed to identify if the out of state travel data displayed represents a neighboring state.

Table 21: How often do you shoot skeet or trap in the offseason?
Answer Choices Responses
Regularly 24.44%
Sometimes 62.78%
Never 12.78%
Table 22: Do you belong to any non-profit groups related to upland bird hunting? (Check all that apply)
Answer Choices Responses
Pheasants Forever 37.36%
Ruffed Grouse Society 44.56%
American Woodcock Society 17.23%
Quail Forever 14.41%
NAVHDA 13.91%
None 25.64%
Other (please specify) *Appendix A 10.31%
Table 23: How did you hear about Project Upland?
Answer Choices Responses
An Online Search Engine 9.96%
Facebook 49.15%
Instagram 13.28%
Youtube 4.10%
Vimeo 0.71%
Word of mouth 2.12%
Friend 6.85%
Podcast 6.00%
Other (please specify) 7.84%
Table 24: Which platform do you use most often to view hunting media?
Answer Choices Responses
Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, Website, Other) 78.60%
Streaming (Roku, Amazon Prime, Waypoint TV, Other) 4.66%
Cable (Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, Pursuit Channel, Other) 16.74%
Table 25: Which device do you use most often to view hunting media?
Answer Choices Responses
Cell phone or other handheld device 46.61%
Computer 30.65%
Television 22.74%
Table 26: Which do you prefer the most in hunting entertainment?
Answer Choices Responses
Magazines 42.44%
Videos 45.97%
Podcasts 11.65%

Section 3 Results/Discussion

This section of the survey was dedicated to gaining insight into the routine habits of upland hunters on a national scale. Nearly 60% of all upland hunters hunt public lands with 18% percent of those hunting only on public land and 40% of respondents hunting mostly on public land. With more than half of the entire upland hunting culture utilizing public lands in such a fashion for their upland pursuits, necessary relationships between the pursuit and the overlying issue of habitat exposes the need and opportunity for cooperation between industry, agencies and NGO’s. One resolve to this is creating targeted marketing campaigns which are not geared toward hunting but rather larger and broader habitat and public trust issues. Embedding these broader conservation messages is not only widely perceived by the current hunting community but doubly gain better traction with improving public acceptance and support.

The data presents the notion that the vast majority of upland hunters spend a large number of days afield and regularly travel beyond their local covers in pursuit of game.

The data regarding ownership of dogs and breeds and interpreting the relationship/effect they have on the upland hunting community is worth noting.  Additional evaluation could be extremely beneficial as to the potential recruitment paths that adjacent pursuits (i.e. dogs) can hold.

Section 4:

“I want to be an upland hunter”

Section 4 Overview

The self-identification as an aspiring upland hunter was essential to gaining a broader knowledge of the motivations and possible recruitment routes of hunters entering the upland pursuit.

The majority of respondents have tried hunting in some form but the nearly 10% of the lifestyle brand following which have never tried hunting before can be classified as low hanging fruit. As a single brand representing a single pursuit in the broader field of hunting, the lifestyle marketing techniques appear to attract a significant number of new participants. If this model was applied to each species or pursuit (i.e. deer, turkey, waterfowl etc. etc.) this number of 10% could certainly represent a break even number to augment hunter decline. Given that no one brand, agency or NGO stands alone in the fight to recruit new participants, cooperation/engagement of modern lifestyle marketing at a federal and state agency level would be essential to closing current gaps and completing an entire recruitment path.

*The questions within this section are unique to the respondents who self-identified within this category.

Table 27: Have you ever hunted before?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 90.91%
No 9.09%
Table 28: If yes, what type of hunting have you done?
Answer Choices Responses
Big Game 71.59%
Small Game 80.68%
Waterfowl 38.64%
Turkey 47.73%
Predators/furbearers 28.41%
N/A 9.09%

This data offers insight into possible recruitment routes into upland hunting from other pursuits. Participants had the ability to choose more than one option to represent multiple interests they may have.

Table 29: Do you own a hunting dog?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 47.73%
No 26.14%
No, but considering getting one 26.14%

In terms of R3 – especially in the recruitment category – nearly 48% of aspiring upland hunters within the survey own a hunting dog. In regards to marketing from an R3 perspective, an expanded focus on adjacent pursuits (i.e. dogs) suggests these topics could be key components of any recruitment model and essential for reaching “new” audiences.

Table 30: Do you own a shotgun?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 96.59%
No 3.41%
Table 31: Have you completed an official hunters education/safety class from a state agency?
Answer Choices Responses
No 19.32%
Yes (Please specify how long ago) * see Appendix A 80.68%

While 80.68% of aspiring hunters have taken a hunter education course at some point, 19.32% of respondents have not taken a hunter safety class. There is a 10.23% difference in the number of respondents who have not taken a hunter education class and the number of respondents who have never tried hunting (Table 27). This 10% discrepancy can be attributed to the recent surge in apprentice licenses offered by state agencies, illegal outings or landowner privileges (no license required for landowners on their own property). See Appendix A: A follow up question was asked to identify the length of time between the first steps in recruitment and the want to become an upland hunter and the results were fairly mixed. Nearly half of respondents replied as having taken their hunter education class in excess of 15 years ago and slightly less than 40% of respondents have taken the class within the last three years.

Table 32: Would you participate in a hands on class offered by a State agency or non-profit which taught the basic fundamentals of hunting upland game?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 96.59%
No 3.41%

Regardless of experience, aspiring upland hunters overwhelmingly showed interest in a “next steps” style class offered through an NGO or state agency which taught the basics of upland bird hunting. This data reflects the need of these classes as an essential retention tool for R3 professionals and an opportunity for additional interest and membership opportunities for interested NGO’s.

Table 33: If yes, would you be willing to pay a small fee for the class?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 92.05%
No 2.27%
N/A 5.68%
Table 34: Do you have access to a shooting range?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 95.45%
No 4.55%

The vast majority of aspiring hunters covering all levels of experience do have access to a shooting range. Public shooting ranges (or lack thereof) have been identified as barriers to recruitment in the broader field of hunting and skills building. This data reveals that public shooting opportunities do not appear to be a barrier to recruitment within upland hunting.

Table 35: Are you a member of a sportsmans club?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 23.86%
No, but considering joining one 56.82%
No, I have no interest in joining a sportsman club 19.32%
Table 36: What steps do you feel are most important before you go afield on an upland hunt? Rank in order of most importance from most important (1) to least important (5).
Answer Choices Responses
Having a mentor/experienced hunter to go with 43.18%
Practicing on a trap or skeet range 22.73%
Owning a hunting dog 18.18%
Finding friends to hunt with 7.95%
Learning how to process a game bird 7.95%
Table 37: Would you consider using a phone app to find public land hunting opportunities for upland game?
Answer Choices Responses
Yes 98.86%
No 1.14%
Table 38: How did you hear about Project Upland?
Answer Choices Responses
An online search engine 11.36%
Facebook 32.95%
Instagram 19.32%
YouTube 5.68%
Vimeo 0.00%
From a Friend 7.95%
Word of mouth 1.14%
Podcast 13.64%
Other (please specify) 7.95%
Table 39: Which platform do you use most often to view hunting media?
Answer Choices Responses
Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, Website, Other) 76.14%
Streaming (Roku, Amazon Prime, Waypoint TV, Other) 9.09%
Cable (Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, Pursuit Channel, Other) 14.77%
Table 40: Which device do you use most often to view hunting media?
Answer Choices Responses
Cell Phone 37.50%
Computer 37.50%
Television 25.00%
Table 41: Which do you prefer the most in hunting entertainment?
Answer Choices Responses
Magazine 27.27%
Videos 51.14%
Podcasts 21.59%

Section 4 Results/Discussion

Much of the data derived from the “aspiring upland hunters” is R3 gold.

Nearly 20% of respondents of aspiring upland hunters responded that they have NOT taken a hunter education class, yet they are interested in becoming an upland hunter and are avid followers of the lifestyle brand. Traditionally, the available hunting media and web content failed to guide these interested parties to the correct state agency or NGO to help take the next steps needed to continue. Based upon the information model we use to develop our brands, this leads us to believe the 20% who have  not taken a hunter education class are the followers who in a few years will end up as part of the lifestyle or hobby hunters who identify as first generation hunters.

The overwhelming majority of all aspiring upland hunters are thirsty for knowledge and not only are they thirsty for knowledge, they are willing to pay for it. This is further evidence of the effect of true lifestyle marketing and iconic branding. The following brought on by this style of marketing are people who feel a relation in the values presented by different segments of the platform and feel as though it represents them. Creating this type of relationship between the consumer and the content is the key tolong term success.

There are entire “learn to” companies for nearly every type of recreation, hobby, lifestyle or pursuit you can think of. The culture of hunting is no different from any other except that it has been late to the game as far as quality content that can compete with other mainstream distractions.

As mainstream culture of younger generation’s progress ever further toward individualism and DIY self-sustained living, we may find that the key social support needed is in the form of mentors and experienced hunters being open to bringing others along. Hunters are all too often soloists and when they do seek a mentorship role it’s typically aimed at youth.

Respondents placed having a mentor or experienced hunter to go with them as being the most important before they are confident heading afield. Mentors are integral parts to any R3 model and play a vital role in the social support structure. As also present, we see that having friends to hunt with (i.e. social support) is the fourth most important to an aspiring hunter. These two forms of social support are completely different in nature and should be treated as such when developing an R3 model and/or R3 content.

A key take away from this data is that as society progresses and social marketplaces grow and evolve, social support may not necessarily be the family and friends we think of. People find social support in different ways with advancements in social media. Adults in their 20’s text each other from just feet away and simultaneously converse with someone states away which they never met, yet isn’t a complete stranger. Social support isn’t even necessarily a person. Social support is as simple as knowing there are others out there who have shared values and interests. This is the basis of iconic branding and lifestyle marketing. It’s nothing new it just needs to be updated to take advantage of modern society.

Section 5: Comparative Analysis

Section 5 Overview

This section of the report focuses on the comparisons between respondents which self-identified as upland hunting being “part of their lifestyle or hobby” and “aspiring upland hunters.” The following questions were asked to each group of respondents in the same order. The objective of asking this series of questions was to get an in-depth look into viewership trends of current/historic hunting media versus modern lifestyle marketing/media.

Additionally, there is a series of opinion questions aimed to expose some perceptions of current available media. Other opinion questions within this section targeted the direct effect and motivations that the lifestyle marketing techniques had on all respondents in regards to the Project Upland brand.

Graph 1: How did you hear about Project Upland?

The data represented in this graph represents true organic traffic and brand discovery. At Northwoods Collective we don’t “buy likes” or “buy followers” so the data is a true representation of brand discovery.

Graph 2: Which platform do you use most often to view hunting media?

As represented by the data, cable television is dying at a faster rate than the pursuit of hunting. Viewership trends have shifted greatly to the internet and more importantly, they are primarily accessed through social media.

Graph 3: Which device do you use most often to view hunting media?
Graph 4: Which do you prefer the most in hunting entertainment?

Section 5-1: Agree/Disagree Opinion Questions

Section 5 Overview

Perhaps one of the most important pieces of the entire 2018 Upland Hunting Survey was the 11 question opinion piece identifying the effect of the lifestyle brand – Project Upland – has on participants of all demographics versus the opinions and effects of current media (i.e. cable TV). Respondents were asked to agree or disagree at varying levels for each of the following questions.

Table 42: “I think Project Upland portrays upland bird hunting culture in a positive manner.”
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 74% 24% 2% 1% 0%
Aspiring hunters 88% 11% 1% 0% 1%

The responses present that the overwhelming majority of followers strongly agree/agree that the lifestyle brand – Project Upland – portrays the pursuit in a positive light.

Table 43: “I think Project Upland has a positive impact on me wanting to go upland bird hunting.”

The overwhelming majority of respondents strongly agreed that Project Upland had an impact on them wanting to hunt. More importantly, 68% of aspiring hunters strongly agreed revealing the inspiration and motivation provided by the lifestyle brand.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 57% 35% 8% 1% 1%
Aspiring hunters 68% 22% 9% 0% 1%
Table 44: “I think Project Upland accurately represents me as a hunter”

This data exposes the notion that the overwhelming majority of followers feel as though they are represented with the brand and helps confirm the efficacy of lifestyle marketing.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 39% 48% 13% 1% 0%
Aspiring hunters 47% 35% 18% 0% 0%
Table 45: “I think cable hunting shows accurately represent me as a hunter”

The data in table 49 reveals that the majority of all respondents whether current or aspiring participants felt as though they were not represented accurately by current hunting media offered on cable television.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 2% 10% 41% 36% 11%
Aspiring hunters 1% 8% 40% 40% 11%
Table 46: “I think cable hunting shows paint an accurate picture of what I can expect when I go afield”

Nearly 60% of respondents from both categories felt as though hunting shows on cable television did not paint an accurate picture of what they could expect when they went afield.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 1% 8% 29% 36% 26%
Aspiring hunters 0% 5% 40% 33% 23%
Table 47: “I think the word sport accurately describes upland bird hunting”

When asked their opinion of the word sport used in reference to upland bird hunting the majority of the respondents (55-66%) from each category agreed that the word “sport” was an accurate description.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 30% 37% 22% 9% 1%
Aspiring hunters 25% 32% 28% 14% 1%
Table 48: “I think upland hunting is an activity in which an individual competes against another or others for entertainment”

The goal of this question was to gain insight into public perception with some of the simplest and most common terms used in hunting. In this case, the word SPORT. When presented the definition of the word sport and asked if it accurately describes the upland pursuit respondents overwhelming disagreed.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 1% 3% 9% 33% 54%
Aspiring hunters 1% 1% 5% 27% 66%
Table 49: “I think hunting should be competitive”

This question helps back up the data regarding the usage and perception of the word sport.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 0% 2% 10% 31% 58%
Aspiring hunters 1% 1% 10% 34% 53%
Table 50: “I believe upland hunting is a sustainable culture”

The focus of this question was to gauge if followers viewed the upland hunting culture as sustainable. Embedding the message of conservation and sustainability into all the different aspects of a platform is essential to instilling a sense of continuity to the pursuit one is participating in.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
Lifestyle/hobby hunters 45% 43% 9% 3% 0%
Aspiring hunters 53% 38% 7% 1% 1%

Section 5 Review/Discussion

One of the most interesting data sets in graph 1 is the 10% difference in brand discovery through podcasts. Aspiring hunters discovered the brand at a 10% higher rate than lifestyle/hobby hunters. The informative nature of podcasts perhaps could be the driving force behind this difference.

As displayed in the comparative data, web based applications tower over the traditional media when it comes to viewership trends relating to video. There was no statistical significance between aspiring hunters and lifestyle/hobby hunters in regards to where hunting oriented media was viewed.

Graph 4 held some interesting data. While video ruled the ranks in preferences of hunting media, there was a significant difference between those already committed to the sport and aspiring hunters when it comes to podcasts and magazines. The cost associated with magazine subscriptions could possibly be the deterrent for aspiring hunters who aren’t already committed to the pursuit. While podcasts were the least preferred type of hunting entertainment, the viewership of podcasts by aspiring hunters is worth noting.

Section 5-1 perhaps held the most intriguing data sets within the survey. The purpose of this series of opinion questions was to gauge the respondent’s opinion of whether they felt the brand represented them as a hunter, represented the pursuit in a positive fashion and whether the content in fact had an impact on them wanting to go hunting. These questions were asked to all respondents and results were consistent between the groups.

Table 43 confirms that the overwhelming majority felt as though the content produced by the lifestyle brand effectively portrays the pursuit in a positive manner. In addition, more than 90 percent of all respondents revealed they felt as though the lifestyle brand had a positive effect on them wanting to go hunting.

Tables 45 and 46 were a direct comparison between the modernized content of the lifestyle brand versus traditional outdoor media accessed on cable television. A combined average of 84.5 percent of respondents felt as though the content of the lifestyle brand accurately represented them as a hunter. This is extremely important as the assimilation of values is an integral part of all stages of R3. Adversely, table 46 reveals that respondents felt as though hunting media broadcasted on cable television does not accurately represent them as a hunter.

Furthermore, table 47 identifies respondents feel as though hunting media broadcasted on cable television does not paint an accurate picture of what they can expect when they go afield.

Tables 48 through 50 were developed to provide insight into some of the subtle phrases displayed within traditional outdoor media exposing the possible negative effects which the simplest terms can have on effective marketing to non-hunting demographics and overall public acceptance. The word sport was the token focus of these questions as it lends itself to other commonly used terms that may be falsely perceived such as “trophy”.

The majority of respondents agreed that the word sport accurately described the pursuit of upland hunting but when presented with the true definition of sport that definition being an accurate description of the pursuit, the overwhelming majority of respondents disagreed. To verify the accuracy of this, table 50 simplified the true definition of the word sport to simply describe competition and again the overwhelming majority of respondents disagreed with the description accurately describing the upland pursuit.

Conclusion/Discussion

Historically, recruitment of new hunters relied on families introducing younger family members to the pursuit. In modern society this is no longer the case. We can no longer sit back and wait for recruitment to happen without help. The old system is failing in a dying culture and a change in approach is paramount to success.

This survey was designed to bring insight to the effect that modern marketing (i.e. lifestyle branding) can have on the outdoor industry and its utility within the R3 model. Our intention here was to provide hard data to provide confirmation and confidence in evolving the way our outdoor pursuits are not only portrayed but perceived. The representative data within the survey exposes the idea that using lifestyle marketing techniques to build all-inclusive platform can achieve effective overlap throughout the ORAM.

There is no escaping the changes in how society receives media but a culturally savvy and modern approach can greatly increase the effectiveness of media to current and importantly new audiences. Viewership trends and motivations of non-traditional demographics are far removed from traditional hunting and outdoor media as displayed within the data. While there is no skeleton key to open all the doors of effective R3, the utility of lifestyle marketing and modernizing the media/content within the R3 space is irrefutable.

Perhaps one of the greatest problems present to realizing effective R3 is that both historically and currently, federal and state agencies are constrained by an overwhelming amount of red tape involved in day to day processes inevitably preventing Federal and State agencies from evolving at the necessary pace needed to maintain interest in a digitally flooded and fading culture.

Historically, there has been little to no cooperation between leading media outlets and Federal/State Agencies.  NGO’s, product brands and media have been beating the same drum for years with minimal evolution and in the absence of support to/from Federal and State agencies. The approach is proving a futile effort as witnessed through years of participation decline.

The R3 community and its founders have identified the needs, threats and barriers which have plagued recruitment and retention and in the process revealed a dull light at the end of the tunnel. Through lifestyle marketing and iconic branding, we have created a new marketplace with an accessible path to connect industry and agency with truly new recruits while maintaining interest from those already involved by adapting the most current 21st century marketing techniques to incorporate the R3 model.

Appendix A:

Table 13: Top Four Most Popular Upland Hunting Breeds
Top 4 most popular upland breeds Responses
Setters 20.58%
GSP 19.81%
Labs 14.53%
American Brittany 10.99%
 Breakdown of all Listed Dog Breeds
Answers/Breed Responses   Answers/Breed Responses
American Cocker Spaniel -1% GSP 19.81%
Beagle -1% Italian Spinone -1%
Boykin Spaniel -1% Kleine Munsterlander -1%
Braque Francais 1.11% Labs 14.53%
American Brittany 10.99% Large Munsterlander -1%
Cesky Fousek -1% Llewlyn Setter 2.78%
Deutsch Kurzhaar -1% Weimuramer -1%
Deutsch Langhaar -1% Plott Hound -1%
Deutsch Wachtelhund -1% Pointer 2.43%
Drahthaar 2.85% Portugese Pointer -1%
Drentsche Patrijshond -1% Pudelpointer 1.8
English Cocker Spaniel 1.59% Red Setter -1%
English Pointer 2.78% Redbone Hound -1%
English Setter 12.58% Ryman Setter -1%
English Springer Spaniel 4.38% Setter 1.8
Espgneul Breton -1% Small Munsterlander -1%
French Brittany 1.11% Viszla 2.64%
German Wirehaired Pointer 3.82% Walker -1%
Golden Retriever 2.09% Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 3.41%
Gordon Setter 1.39%

 

Table 22: Other National NGO’s and Non-Profits listed:

Back Country Hunters and anglers

NRA

Ducks Unlimited

RMEF

TRCP

Delta Waterfowl

NWTF

Table 31: Respondents who answered yes were asked to specify how long ago they took their hunter education class in years.
>1yr 1-5yrs 6-10yrs 11-15yrs 16-19yrs 20+ yrs
How many years ago did you take a hunter education class? 11.26% 25.35% 12.67% 16.90% 5.60% 29.50%
Table 36: What steps do you feel are most important before you go afield on an upland hunt? Rank in order of most importance from most important (1) to least important (5).
Answer Choices 1 2 3 4 5
Having a mentor/experienced hunter to go with 43.18% 20.45% 10.23% 10.23% 15.91%
Practicing on a trap or skeet range 22.73% 36.36% 22.73% 13.64% 4.55%
Owning a hunting dog 18.18% 12.50% 27.27% 21.59% 20.45%
Finding friends to hunt with 7.95% 19.32% 25.00% 27.27% 20.45%
Learning how to process a game bird 7.95% 11.36% 14.77% 27.27% 38.64%

Literature Cited

https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p20-570.pdf

By Jonathan Vespa, Jamie M. Lewis, and

Rose M. Kreider

August 2013

Population Characteristics

America’s Families and Living

Arrangements

https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p20-578.pdf

Educational Attainment in the United States: 2015

Population Characteristics

By Camille L. Ryan and Kurt Bauman

Current Population Reports

P20-578

March 2016

http://www.southwickassociates.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2018/01/Comprehensive-Crossover-Report.pdf

Crossover Participation – Evaluating the Potential for Growth within the Hunting and Recreational Shooting Industry

National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)

Southwick Associates

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