Study shows waterfowlers dropping out

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2012 - 2:16 AM

There was an uptick in deer and small-game license sales among young Minnesota hunters from 2003 to 2010, but duck numbers went the other way.


A waterfowl hunt in South Dakota

Photo: Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

While young Minnesotans appear to increase their interest in pursuing deer and small game during their initial years in the field, the same hunters in significant numbers drop out of waterfowling, according to recent Department of Natural Resources license data reviewed by the Star Tribune.

In a comparison of small-game and deer-hunting license sales with sales of waterfowl stamps over an eight-year period beginning in 2003, young hunters slightly increased their interest in small-game hunting and nearly doubled their participation in deer hunting, according to the DNR data.

Yet license sales to young waterfowl hunters as they aged through the period dropped by nearly 20 percent.

License sales to Minnesota waterfowl hunters have been at or near record lows in recent years, and wildlife managers have struggled to rekindle interest in the sport amid declining duck numbers.

Traditionally, Minnesota has put more duck and goose hunters in the field than any state -- more than 125,000 at one time, compared to about 70,000 now.

In the newspaper's study, significant percentages of middle-age and older waterfowlers whose license purchases also were tracked between 2003 and 2010 dropped out of duck and goose hunting by the end of that period.

Yet as the years progressed, both age groups increased deer-hunting license purchases, and only the older set -- age 58-65 -- bought fewer small-game licenses.

A separate study released Friday by the DNR at its stakeholders meeting in St. Paul suggests that as many as 60 percent of waterfowlers who have dropped out of duck and goose hunting are unlikely to return to the sport unless a son, daughter or other family member shows an interest, or unless duck numbers jump significantly.

The percentage of waterfowlers unlikely to return to the sport might be even higher for young duck and goose hunters who drop out, because they haven't yet fully developed wildfowling traditions.

License sales tracked by the newspaper found that the number of Minnesota hunters who were at age 40 and purchased small-game licenses in 2003 -- 4,615 in all -- didn't decline as that group reached age 47 in 2010.

The same age group increased its deer-hunting license purchases by 10 percent.

Yet about 20 percent fewer of these middle-age hunters purchased state duck stamps when their group was age 47 than when it was age 40.

Hunters who were 58 in 2003 and who bought deer-hunting licenses that year also boosted their ranks by 2010 -- 4,511 to 4,786.

Yet waterfowl-license purchases among that group fell by about a third.

Combined with the DNR's study of lapsed waterfowl hunters, the prospect that the state might see a recovery in waterfowl hunter numbers anytime soon seems, at best, uncertain.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


New England 5:30 PM
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 3 3rd Prd 10:58
Vancouver 0
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 37 2nd Half 16:26
Vanderbilt 24
(20) Iowa 47 2nd Half 18;20
(5) Maryland 49
(1) South Carolina 20 1st Half 4:11
Ole Miss 24
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question