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Whither the Love of Hunting? Explainingthe Decline of a Major Form of RuralRecreation as a Consequence of the Riseof Virtual Entertainment and Urbanism

Whither the Love of Hunting? Explainingthe Decline of a Major Form of RuralRecreation as a Consequence of the Riseof Virtual Entertainment and Urbanism

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Published by shootingcouncil

Recent journalism and scholarship have noted a years-long decline in Americans’ participation in rural forms of outdoor recreation such as hunting. While some attempt has been made to understand these declines few have analyzed the causes of these changes in a theoretically rigorous empirical manner. This study addresses this issue in two empirical approaches. First, we analyze survey data on hunting and various theoretical predictors from the General Social Survey. Second, we statistically analyze changes in hunting license acquisitions at the state level for a period of several years. We empirically test the Videophilia hypothesis (Pergams & Zaradic, 2006) as one expla- nation positing a substitution effect involving electronic forms of indoor entertainment. We find evidence that the switch to certain kinds of electronic entertainment as well as the growth in urban living explain the decline in hunting and discuss the implications of these findings and future directions for research.

Recent journalism and scholarship have noted a years-long decline in Americans’ participation in rural forms of outdoor recreation such as hunting. While some attempt has been made to understand these declines few have analyzed the causes of these changes in a theoretically rigorous empirical manner. This study addresses this issue in two empirical approaches. First, we analyze survey data on hunting and various theoretical predictors from the General Social Survey. Second, we statistically analyze changes in hunting license acquisitions at the state level for a period of several years. We empirically test the Videophilia hypothesis (Pergams & Zaradic, 2006) as one expla- nation positing a substitution effect involving electronic forms of indoor entertainment. We find evidence that the switch to certain kinds of electronic entertainment as well as the growth in urban living explain the decline in hunting and discuss the implications of these findings and future directions for research.

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Published by: shootingcouncil on Jan 28, 2013
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09/17/2013

 
This article was downloaded by: [University of Saskatchewan Library]On: 15 January 2013, At: 07:00Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Human Dimensions of Wildlife: AnInternational Journal
Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uhdw20
Whither the Love of Hunting? Explainingthe Decline of a Major Form of RuralRecreation as a Consequence of the Riseof Virtual Entertainment and Urbanism
Kristopher K. Robison
a
& Daniel Ridenour
aa
Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb,Illinois, USAVersion of record first published: 05 Dec 2012.
To cite this article:
Kristopher K. Robison & Daniel Ridenour (2012): Whither the Love of Hunting?Explaining the Decline of a Major Form of Rural Recreation as a Consequence of the Rise of VirtualEntertainment and Urbanism, Human Dimensions of Wildlife: An International Journal, 17:6, 418-436
To link to this article:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10871209.2012.680174
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use:http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 
 Human Dimensions of Wildlife
, 17:418–436, 2012Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1087-1209 print / 1533-158X onlineDOI: 10.1080/10871209.2012.680174
Whither the Love of Hunting? Explainingthe Decline of a Major Form of RuralRecreation as a Consequence of the Riseof Virtual Entertainment and Urbanism
KRISTOPHER K. ROBISON AND DANIEL RIDENOUR
Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA
 Recent journalism and scholarship have noted a years-long decline in Americans’ participation in rural forms of outdoor recreation such as hunting. While some attempt has been made to understand these declines few have analyzed the causes of thesechanges in a theoretically rigorous empirical manner. This study addresses this issuein two empirical approaches. First, we analyze survey data on hunting and varioustheoretical predictors from the General Social Survey. Second, we statistically analyzechanges in hunting license acquisitions at the state level for a period of several years.We empirically test the Videophilia hypothesis (Pergams & Zaradic, 2006) as one expla-nation positing a substitution effect involving electronic forms of indoor entertainment.We find evidence that the switch to certain kinds of electronic entertainment as well asthe growth in urban living explain the decline in hunting and discuss the implications of these findings and future directions for research.
Keywords
hunting, Internet, urban, tourism
Introduction
Participation in the sport of hunting is on a dramatic decline (Jonsson, 2003; Pergams &Zaradic, 2006, 2008; Urbina, 2008; Winkler, Huck, & Warnke, 2008). The U.S. Fish andWildlife Service’s latest available national survey (2006) found that the number of activehunters declined 11% between 1991 and 2006, and that this decline is nationwide andacute in some states. For example, active hunters in Illinois and California declined bymore than half between 1991 and 2006 while West Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky, Arizona,and Utah’s fell over a third in the same time period (USFWS, 1991, 2006). The nation-wide annual sum of paying hunting license holders has decreased almost every year sincethe early 1980s; annual license purchases fell from under 12 per 100 persons in the late1970s to less than 9 per 100 in 2003—a decline of approximately 25% (USFWS, 2008).Several individual state agencies are reporting very recent declines in license purchases:California and New Jersey report decreases in license purchases between 2000 and 2010(California Department of Fish and Game, 2011; New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife,2011). Evidence from the General Social Survey similarly demonstrates that there has been
Address correspondence to Kristopher K. Robison, Assistant Professor, Northern IllinoisUniversity, Department of Sociology, Zulauf Hall, 815, DeKalb, IL 60115-2891, USA. E-mail:krob@niu.edu
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 Decline of Hunting 419
a decrease in respondents’ saying “yes” when asked if they, their spouse, or both everhunted. The percent of those individuals indicating hunting participation fell from a high of over 29% at the first wave of the survey (1972) to a low of under 17% in the last (2006)—anear halving of the participation rate over a 35-year time frame (Davis, Smith, & Marsden,2009). In short, the evidence clearly indicates a general downward trend in the sport of hunting.The implications are significant, particularly for rural areas dependent upon hunters,anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Hunting is an important source of animal popula-tion control for animals such as deer (Brown et al., 2000) as well as a source of revenue forwildlife and parks management and commercial tourism enterprises. By some estimates, anaveragehunterspendsroughly$1,800yearlyonhuntingaveraginguptoover22billiondol-lars a year (USFWS, 2006). These impacts are especially troublesome for rural areas whoseeconomies have become dependent on hunting (Reeder & Brown, 2005). Furthermore,some evidence (Heberlein & Ericsson, 2005) suggests that a lack of hunting may reducepublic interest in conservation. Declining outdoor activity may also contribute to obesitycreating ill-effects for health in the long term (Tremblay & Willms, 2003; Vandewater,Shim, & Caplovitz, 2004). Yet while there are deleterious consequences to the downwardtrends in hunting, what exactly are their causes? While numerous studies have examinedthe correlates and predictors of hunting (Dizard, 2003; Duda et al., 2003; Floyd & Lee,2002; Heberlein & Thomson, 1996; Mehmood, Zhang, & Armstrong, 2003; Stedman &Heberlein, 2001; USFWS 2006, 2007), little research has rigorously addressed the declinein hunting. This article attempts to empirically answer this question. We apply a dual strat-egy intestingthehypothesis thatthedecline inhunting isoccurring because of thechangingsociocultural matrix of our population; people are more comfortable and familiar with vir-tual and urban playgrounds than they are with the wilds, thus undermining interest in ruralactivities such as hunting.
Theory
Videophilia Hypothesis
Pergams and Zaradic (2006, 2008) developed the “videophilia” hypothesis that positsthat the increasing disinterest in the outdoors is largely due to a shift in preferences forindoor, electronic entertainment (2006, 2008). They note that the growing tendency towardvideophilia is at the expense of what Wilson (1984) referred to as “biophilia” or humans’“innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes” leading to a desire to escape to theenjoyment of nature. In their 2006 piece, Pergams and Zaradic (2008) demonstrate severalcorrelations between one form of outdoor activity and hours of television watched, videogames, home movie rentals, theater attendance, and Internet use. Although correlation anal-yses are limited in the causal inferences that can be made, they reasonably conclude thatAmericans appear to be substituting the indoors for the outdoors, in so far as entertain-ment and leisure are concerned. They find compelling evidence that this is part of a generalshift away from interest in “nature-based activities” including outdoor adventures such ashunting.However, the sociological factors facilitating a shift in interest from the outdoors tothe indoors are unclear. The fact that other evidence indicates not all outdoor activities arein the decline (or even on the increase such as wildlife-watching; The Humane Society,2006; USFWS, 2006) further complicates a search for answers. Any attempt to explainthe decline of outdoor activities such as hunting must take into account why others are
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