Hunter numbers growing
Victoria’s Game Management Authority (GMA) has released a report on game licensing statistics showing 10 per cent growth to game licences with duck entitlements since 1996.
The report updates licensing statistics across all permit types to June 2017. Over the same 20-year period, there has been a 72 per cent increase in all hunting with the biggest increase in deer hunters (365 per cent) and quail (16 per cent). The majority of Game Licence holders predominantly hunt a single species of game with 23 015 (43 per cent) only hunting deer and a further 14 703 (28 per cent) only hunting duck. The remaining 29 per cent of licence holders hunt a combination of game species.
The number of duck entitlement holders has fluctuated over the years depending on the season, but even in the four years where the duck season was cancelled (1995, 2003, 2007, 2008) multi-year entitlements ranged between 17 156 in 1995 and 19 141 in 2008.
The majority of licence holders across all categories (62 per cent) currently hold a long-term entitlement.
The 20 years from 1996 also includes three restricted Duck Seasons (2009, 2015, 2016) where licensed hunter numbers ranged between 18 348 and 25 989.
The licensing data indicates there is no significant drop-off in hunter licensing in years where reductions in bag limits and/or species are imposed, a reflection of the passion duck hunters possess.
Hunter effort during the season may change to suit the conditions, but the desire to participate doesn’t wane even
when opportunity is limited. Duck hunter numbers increased from 25 646 in 2016 (a restricted season) to 26 357 as of June 30, 2017, a rise of 2.77 per cent. The GMA data shows that hunting of all types is male dominated, and duck hunting has the lowest female participation rate of 1.8 per cent. While the base is low, female hunter numbers are growing slowly (up 0.3 per cent from 2016) and more importantly for the future of hunting, that growth has been predominantly in the 10–17 age group (25 per cent) and 18–25 age group (12.6 per cent).
However, the profile is the same as male hunters with numbers dropping off between the ages of 28 and 37 with the pressures of career and family.
Male duck hunters are still predominantly older with males aged 38–67 accounting for 58 per cent and 20 per cent aged over 68. Year on year the number of junior duck hunters aged 10–17 increased 3.4 per cent while the 18–27 category rose only slightly from 2432 hunters to 2438. The positive is that young hunters are being retained, and new hunters added particularly in the 28–37 age profile, which increased 5.4 per cent from 2016.