Perceptions of Hunting and Hunters by U.S. Respondents

Authors: Elizabeth Byrd, John G. Lee, and Nicole J. Olynk Widmar


The article focuses on the importance of understanding public opinion on hunters, hunting, and its practices for wildlife managers and policymakers. The study provides a nationwide survey of U.S. residents’ perceptions of hunting and hunters.

Most people (87%) agreed that hunting for food is acceptable, but only 37% approved of trophy hunting. Meaning many respondents didn’t have enough knowledge about specific hunting practices.

Positive opinions on hunting were linked to knowing hunters, participating in hunting-related activities, visiting fairs/livestock operations, and being male. Conversely, not knowing a hunter or owning a pet were negative predictors for accepting hunting or approving trophy hunting.

Older Respondents’ Opinions

The article mentions that older people (45 and older) tend to be more supportive of hunting, believing it helps maintain nature’s balance, reduces agricultural damage, and prevents vehicle collisions. However, they also express concerns about hunting safety, agreeing that hunters sometimes ignore safety rules and everyone should take a hunting safety course.

This shows that people can appreciate hunting benefits. At the same time, being concerned about its safety. Education efforts can help address the public’s concerns or lack of knowledge about hunting practices, which could be important for wildlife managers.

Unfamiliarity with Hunting Practices

About a quarter of respondents did not know enough about specific hunting practices, like hunting over bait or using dogs in hunting, to have an opinion on whether they reduced animal welfare.

The study suggests that wildlife managers should educate the public about these practices.

Gender Differences

Women’s perception of hunting tends to differ from men’s for a few reasons. First, women are less familiar with hunting, as they represent a smaller percentage of hunters than men. Only about 11% of hunters in the U.S. are female. This could be due to historical gender roles and the fact that hunting has been traditionally seen as a male activity.

In addition to being less familiar with hunting, women often view animals and wildlife differently than men. Past research has shown that women are more likely to express concern for animal welfare in general. They are less supportive of using lethal methods for wildlife management and more likely to oppose hunting for recreational or food-gathering reasons.

Animal Familiarity and Opinions

The study considers pet ownership and visiting livestock operations or fairs to gauge people’s familiarity with animals. Pet owners tend to be more concerned about animal welfare while visiting farms or fairs allows people to learn about animals and agricultural practices.

People who visited livestock operations or fairs generally had more favorable opinions on hunting, possibly because they were more likely to be rural residents. In addition, since hunters often come from rural backgrounds, rural residents may be more inclined to support hunting and other rural lifestyle elements. Future research could include these variables and consider fairs as opportunities for wildlife managers to reach people who may be more accepting of hunting.

Involvement in Hunting and Opinions

The article states that being involved in hunting or knowing hunters is linked to positive feelings toward hunting. In addition, when people have family members who hunt or participate in hunting-related activities, they generally have a more favorable view of hunting.

Those who approve of hunting are more likely to support lethal methods of controlling coyotes. In contrast, respondents who don’t know any hunters or haven’t participated in hunting-related activities tend to be less supportive of hunting.


In conclusion, understanding public opinion on hunting is crucial for wildlife managers and policymakers, as it can change over time. Knowing public perceptions will help wildlife managers design better programs and policies, ensuring continued social acceptance of hunting.