Game li­cence growth

The Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity has re­leased de­tailed data show­ing a marked rise in the num­ber of game li­cence hold­ers but across all cat­e­gories the rel­a­tively low par­tic­i­pa­tion level of women and youth high­lights the op­por­tu­nity to grow.

Field and Game - - Game Licence statistics -

The ma­jor­ity of game li­cence hold­ers pre­dom­i­nantly hunt a sin­gle species of game with 19 557 (40 per cent) only hunt­ing deer and a fur­ther 14 711 (31 per cent) only hunt­ing duck. The re­main­ing 29 per cent of li­cence hold­ers hunt a com­bi­na­tion of game species.

A to­tal of 28 873 of all li­cence hold­ers (60 per cent) cur­rently hold a long-term li­cence (ie three years) with 23 per cent of this fig­ure claim­ing a con­ces­sion en­ti­tle­ment and 4 per cent hold­ing a ju­nior li­cence (12–17 years).

The duck sea­son was can­celled in 1995, 2003, 2007 and 2008 but the dips in li­cence num­bers in each of those years is more than made up for in later years when there was a sea­son.

Duck hunt­ing in Vic­to­ria is pre­dom­i­nantly a male re­cre­ation with 98.5 per cent of li­cence hold­ers with the duck en­ti­tle­ment be­ing male. Males aged 38 to 67 ac­count for 58 per cent of this fig­ure.

Ten per cent of fe­male duck hunters are aged 10–17 while for males it is just 2 per cent. The next aged bracket, 18–27, fol­lows a sim­i­lar pat­tern, mak­ing up 28 per cent of to­tal fe­male li­cence hold­ers and 10 per cent of male.

From 1995 to 2016 the to­tal num­ber of game li­cences has grown from 23 206 to 48 023 (106.9 per cent) and the dif­fer­ent li­cence types have recorded sig­nif­i­cant growth.

The raw num­bers show duck en­ti­tle­ments have risen from 17 156 to 25 646 (49.5 per cent) and quail en­ti­tle­ments 19 163 to 28 545 (48.9 per cent). While those num­bers are healthy, they pale in com­par­i­son to the surge in deer en­ti­tle­ments, which have gone from 7708 to 32 306 (320 per cent) over the same pe­riod.

Aus­tralian Deer As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Barry Howlett said ac­cess and abun­dance had drawn more peo­ple to deer hunt­ing. “The ex­plo­sion in deer num­bers is a big fac­tor but I also think lack of duck sea­sons in some years has also been a fac­tor,” he said. “There are peo­ple hunt­ing now that didn’t know there were deer 10 years ago.”

The age pro­file of li­cence cat­e­gories shows a skew­ing of duck hunt­ing to­wards an older au­di­ence.

The dra­matic growth in the num­ber of deer li­cences is un­der­pinned by a younger de­mo­graphic, with 38 per cent of hunters aged un­der 27 com­pared to 26 per cent of duck hunters. “Deer hunt­ing is more ac­ces­si­ble but for the most part you have to be fairly ac­tive; for younger peo­ple who have a 4WD and en­joy go­ing bush, it’s a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion,” Barry said.

Six out of 10 deer hunters are aged un­der 47 but for ducks, it is four hunters out of ev­ery 10.

FGA gen­eral man­ager David Mc­n­abb said that could be ex­plained in part by the longevity of duck hunters. “You can keep duck hunt­ing a lot longer than you can deer hunt­ing; for many of our mem­bers, hunt­ing ducks is a long­stand­ing fam­ily tra­di­tion and it is not un­usual to find three gen­er­a­tions of the one fam­ily in a duck camp.”

The age and gen­der de­mo­graph­ics of game li­cence hold­ers show that duck hunt­ing skews to older males but that presents an op­por­tu­nity to grow by at­tract­ing youth and women.

Delta Wa­ter­fowl met the chal­lenge of a sim­i­lar age pro­file in North Amer­ica by im­ple­ment­ing a youth hunt pro­gram in 2001.

Delta Wa­ter­fowl con­ducted its first men­tored hunt on the famed Delta Marsh, which spawned what to­day is North Amer­ica’s largest wa­ter­fowl spe­cific hunter re­cruit­ment pro­gram, First Hunt.

First Hunt events of­fer a com­pre­hen­sive im­mer­sion into a rich wa­ter­fowl-hunt­ing her­itage. Day one in­cludes a broad range of skill train­ing, which in­cludes wa­ter­fowl­ing-spe­cific gun safety and wing-shoot­ing, in­tro­duc­tion to duck and goose call­ing, de­coy place­ment, re­triever train­ing, duck iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, etc.

Day two finds a new hunter paired with an ex­pe­ri­enced men­tor for a trip to the blind. After a suc­cess­ful hunt, the new hunters are taught to han­dle, clean and cook their har­vest. This ex­pe­ri­ence, from skills de­vel­op­ment to the shoot­ing of a new hunter’s first duck, cul­mi­nat­ing in a duck din­ner, pro­vides a rich and pow­er­ful bap­tism into the wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing fra­ter­nity.

In 2015, 126 First Hunt events at­tracted 5666 par­tic­i­pants. “We are pur­su­ing the youth hunt con­cept but it needs to fit the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ments we op­er­ate within,” David said. “The ini­tial dis­cus­sions sug­gest there is a way for­ward. We want to en­cour­age new duck hunters by of­fer­ing them the knowl­edge to op­er­ate safely in the field and to un­der­stand and re­spect the tra­di­tions, value of the birds they har­vest and un­der­stand the clear link be­tween hunt­ing and con­ser­va­tion.”

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