Opinions of North Carolina hunters regarding hunting on Sunday and satisfactions with, motivations for, and constraints to hunting participation
Hooper, Melissa Kay
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In 2005, the North Carolina General Assembly and North Carolina Governor Mike Easley requested that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) coordinate a study to investigate issues related to hunting on Sunday in North Carolina. In particular, NCWRC was most interested in identifying stakeholders and their views on hunting on Sunday, and estimating the potential impacts of hunting on Sunday on hunter recruitment and retention. I developed a 12-page questionnaire that was sent to a random sample of 2,400 licensed resident hunters in North Carolina. The questionnaire was used to assess their views and opinions about hunting on Sunday and to estimate the potential impacts of hunting on Sunday on hunting participation. The final response rate was 41.6%. The issue of hunting on Sunday in North Carolina was strongly polarized: 38% of respondents strongly supported hunting on Sunday and 39% strongly opposed. Older hunters and those who frequently attended church or another place of worship were most opposed to hunting on Sunday. Although many respondents originally voiced support, many of these same individuals opposed hunting on Sunday if some limitations were imposed. The exact effect on hunter recruitment was not determined by this research effort; however, I found evidence that the opportunity to hunt on Sunday may have some positive impact on hunting participation. Hunters who previously had taken an adult friend, family member, or youth hunting in North Carolina indicated they would do so again if presented with an opportunity to hunt on Sunday. However, the opportunity to hunt on Sunday had little influence on persuading hunters who had not previously taken an adult friend, family member, or youth hunting on Sunday to do so. Most respondents (60%) indicated they would hunt at least the same number of days or more days (37%) if hunting on Sunday was legalized. Specifically, respondents indicated that they would hunt an average of 7 additional days that did not involve an overnight stay and take an average of 1.9 more overnight hunting trips if hunting on Sunday was legalized. Thus, legalization of hunting on Sunday likely would increase hunting participation, but would have unknown effects on hunter recruitment and retention. In addition to assessing opinions about hunting on Sunday, I explored North Carolina hunters' satisfaction with hunting experiences, motivations for hunting, and constraints to hunting participation. Overall, North Carolina hunters were satisfied with both their hunting experiences during the 2005-2006 season and the previous 5 seasons. Satisfaction with hunting experiences in North Carolina was derived from many factors (e.g., see wildlife, spend time in the field/woods). Hunters in North Carolina identified a diverse array of motivations for hunting such as to experience natural surroundings, to enjoy the outdoors, and to enjoy solitude. North Carolina hunters responding to my survey identified constraints associated with time, not enough game animals, and confusing hunting regulations as major impediments to their hunting activity in North Carolina. The question of whether removing the current ban on hunting on Sunday in North Carolina would alleviate time constraints remains unanswered. Permitting hunting on Sunday may provide an additional day of hunting opportunities for North Carolina hunters; it also would provide a means to increase satisfaction with and motivations for hunting in North Carolina for some hunters. This research effort provided valuable information about hunting and hunters in North Carolina. Careful consideration of this information is needed to encourage hunter recruitment and retention, and to combat further declines in hunting participation; however, this information should be integrated with biologically-based management goals and objectives.
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