Selected Articles from our
The C.A.S.H. Courier
ARTICLE from the Spring 2008 Issue
Figures Don’t Lie But Liars Figure
By Peter Muller
Our adversaries frequently claim
statistics that purport to show how their numbers are not really
declining as rapidly as they, in fact, are. To confront these bogus
claims takes time and effort to research the published statistics.
The first step is to access an authoritative reference that has
credibility with the general public. The best source for hunting and
wildlife-related information is a series of US government publications
entitled “The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and
Wildlife-Associated Recreation.” These surveys are comprehensive and
published every five years.
The most recent edition is the “2006 National Survey of Fishing,
Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.”
The one prior to that is the “2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting,
and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.”
These surveys have been published more or less consistently since 1955.
They are available on-line at
They give extensive data concerning demographics of hunters, anglers and
wildlife-watchers. To establish trends it is often necessary to get two
or more sequential surveys.
Let’s look at some typical claims and how they evaporate in the light of
Sometimes the claims are just out and out fabrications that have no
basis in fact. The US Sportsmen’s Alliance newsletter of April 1, 2008
claims that the number of female hunters is increasing
The number of women hunters declined from 2001 to 2006 by 31,000 in
spite of a substantial increase in the total population of women. The
percentage of women who hunt decreased from 1.08% in 2001 to .97% in
2006. How can they spin these numbers to show that women who hunt
increased? Perhaps they mean that since the total numbers of hunters
declined at an even faster rate than women hunters — women now
constitute a larger percentage of hunters (9.25%) than they did in
2001(8.95%). But that simply means that male hunters are falling off
their tree-stands faster than female hunters; it does not mean that
female hunters are increasing.
A Common procedure
designed to mislead the public consists of “irrelevant lumping.”
We know from looking at the statistics that the number of hunters is
declining and so is the concomitant expenditure by hunters on travel,
food and lodging. Rather than cite figures of dollars spent by hunters,
they frequently cite expenditures by “outdoor-sportsmen” (which includes
anglers) or “recreational outdoor users” (which includes
wildlife-watchers and anglers). In drawing their conclusion they try to
imply that increases in those figures are attributable to hunters.
Lumping can also occur across phony regions.
From 2001 to 2006 the total number of hunters in the US decreased by
764,000; in 33 states there was a decrease in the number of hunters, in
16 states there was an increase and in one state there was no change.
Here are some hunting participation statistics changes from 2001 to
Suppose that an advocate
for hunting from Louisiana wants to make a case that hunting is
really increasing – while, in fact, hunting decreased in Louisiana
The advocate could talk about a “Mississippi-Delta-Gulf region” and
claim a 224,000 increase
With a little imagination, anyone can cobble together an unlikely
region such as the “Pennsylvania- Idaho-Nebraska-Alaska- flyway” and
lump a losing state in with some other states where hunting
Other tricks of the trade include:
* The numbers of participants that are reported by state
Most of the time this is based on license sales. If a hunter gets a
big-game firearm license and then separately obtains a muzzle-loader
license, he is counted twice. If a hunter gets a Pennsylvania
license and also a NY State license, he is reported by both states.
The number of hunters reported is undoubtedly inflated by
double-counting. Each state wants to report a high number of hunters
to increase their share of Pittman-Robertson allocation of funds.
The state agencies are not motivated to adjust their numbers for
multiple license sales.
* Using a
broad term and switching the definition of what’s included in that
For example “Young hunters” can mean children who hunt and are of
age 14 to 16 in a given year in a given state. If the hunting age in
that state is lowered to 10 in a subsequent year, “Young hunters” is
then used to refer to children who hunt and are of age 10-16. A
claim that the number of “Young Hunters” has increased simply
reflects the increased size of the pool of potential “young Hunters”
not an increase in interest of children to become “Young Hunters”.
In general, be prepared to do some research to refute their bogus
claims that hunting is alive and well. The agencies’ desperate
efforts to recruit from “non-traditional” hunters among women,
children and ethnic groups that have low hunting participation is
not working in spite of the large expenditures by many state
agencies to fund these initiatives.
Rest assured that hunting is well on its way to the dustbin of
history as Luke Dommer used to say.
Peter Muller is Vice President of C.A.S.H.