Nebraska Game and Parks Commission



Date of this Version

June 2007


Copyright © 2007 Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Used by permission.


Hunting and fishing are important parts of Nebraska’s rich heritage. These time-honored outdoor pursuits are important to overall lifestyle, well-being and natural resources of the citizens of Nebraska. The North American Model for Conservation was based primarily on the activism from our nation’s hunters and anglers. Their role helped develop and instill the seven basic premises of the model: Wildlife is to be held in public trust, there should be an elimination of market hunting, wildlife should be allocated by law, there should be hunting/angling opportunities for all citizens, wildlife should only be killed for legitimate reasons, wildlife should be considered an international resource, and science should be the basis for wildlife policy. This model of conservation has been holding strong for over 150 years in this country, and although other groups have taken an active interest in conservation, it has primarily been our hunters and anglers that have taken the greatest activist and financial role in continuance of this conservation effort (RMEF 2006). In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act and in 1950 the Dingell-Johnson Act established a secure and highly supportive source of funding for fish and wildlife management, greatly enhancing the North American Conservation Model’s ability to sustain nationwide conservation efforts.

Along with hunters and anglers paying for conservation via permits and excise taxes, they contributed $75 billion to the economy nationwide in 2006 (USFWS 2007). In Nebraska, Fishing and Hunting impacted the economy with nearly $376 million in 2006 (USFWS 2007). Unfortunately, this tidal wave of funding and economic impact will not continue unless we maintain one of our most important stakeholders, our hunters and anglers.

Total numbers of hunters and anglers per state have been recorded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for many years, in part, to help in the distribution of federal excise taxes between states. These numbers have fluctuated throughout the years, with record highs in the 1960s, and lows in the mid 1980s. In the past ten years (1997-2007) there has been a loss of 18,579 hunters and 36,272 anglers (USFWS Online Federal License Certification). Although the west-north central region has not seen as great a decline in hunters as other regions, it is still alarming the rate at which our hunters and anglers are leaving the sport.

In an effort to get a better idea of who Nebraska hunters and anglers were, data analysis of four years (2002-2005) of permit information was completed for both hunting and fishing (DJ Case 2007, Southwick 2006). Along with basic demographic information, “Tapestry” software was used to identify the Lifemodes and Segments of our hunters and anglers. Tapestry software uses a combination of geographic information software and Census Bureau Information to find common attributes of neighborhoods. This information can then be used to target certain segments more effectively, whether by a specific media type or having general understanding a neighborhoods socio-demographics. The top lifemode group of Nebraska anglers and hunters was called “Factories and Farms” a group that is described as: “Small towns often in America’s breadbasket states, lower income, married, employed in agriculture and manufacturing.”

The top segment of Nebraska anglers and hunters is “Prairie Living” described as: “Midwest small farms mostly, average age 40, married, half have kids, typical income, pets, country music, hunts and fishes.” The segment with the greatest opportunity to increase hunting and fishing participation is “Prairie Living” (described above), and “Green Acres” described as: “Married with kids, blue collar baby boomers with college education, above average income, suburban fringe, do-it-yourselfers, outdoor types.” This information should help our agency to focus on the correct group of people in the most efficient manner.

The many reasons why people do or do not hunt and/or fish are referred to as motivations or constraints. Current literature cites that hunters are motivated to participate in the sport because they enjoyed that type of recreation, like the meat they harvested, enjoyed being in nature, have an investment in the sport, and like being with friends and family (Duda et al. 1995), and further, they are more likely to continue if they gain multiple satisfactions from hunting (Hendee 1974). Constraints to hunting can be seen at the individual and/or macro levels. Macro level constraints include distance from good hunting or fishing locations, public access for the type of hunting or fishing pursued and urbanization. At the individual level, constraints include lack of social support, having time to hunt or fish, poor health, and financial situations (Duda et al. 1995, Enck et al. 2000). More in depth information has been provided within the various goals in the “Issues” section of the plan.

Along with the more traditional reasons to hunt and fish, there is a worldwide movement that emphasizes the mental and physical benefits to being in the outdoors (Louv 2005). There has been a link to stress reduction after being in a natural environment (Wells and Evans 2003). Dr. Paul Quinett preaches that the act of fishing is something that helps to instill and maintain hope and relieve stress, which leads to a lower incident of suicide by participants (Quinnett 1994). Still other studies promote unstructured “play” in the outdoors for children as a way to battle obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder, and depression (Taylor et al 2001). Studies also show that outdoor “play” adds to cognitive and intellectual abilities (Wells 2000). While outdoor activities such as soccer and golf are positive, activities such as hunting, fishing, and camping, promote stronger relationships to adult environment attitudes (Wells, N.M. and K.S. Lekies, 2006). These studies all point to the greater benefits of hunting and fishing. Although these studies may not directly affect the constraints cited for hunting and fishing, they may be used to educate and encourage participation as the best use of free time and/or time spent as a family.