Disconnected Hunter-Trapper Education and Mentored Youth Survey Program

As a result of the trend towards declining hunting participation, fish and game management agencies across the nation are devoting increased attention to hunter recruitment and retention (HRR) strategies.

Funding source: Pennsylvania Game Commission

Such strategies focus on traditional as well as new/emerging hunter groups, and include initiatives such as special youth and family hunting days and events, specialized hunter training programs, and mentoring programs. Among its many activities, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) offers Hunter-Trapper Education (HTE) and Mentored Youth (MY) Programs to introduce people to hunting and encourage purchasing of hunting licenses and subsequent hunting participation.

Previous research and analysis by the PGC identified a "disconnect" between participation in youth hunter education and mentoring programs and subsequent purchase of hunting licenses and actual participation in hunting. Approximately 35% of HTE graduates do not purchase a junior or adult hunting license in the year they complete their hunter education. Likewise, an unknown but possibly high percentage of MY license holders (i.e., those under age 12 purchasing a mentored youth permit enabling them to go hunting with an adult licensed hunter) do not purchase a junior hunting license within two years of their purchase of the mentored youth license.

A basic series of question related to the PGC Youth recruitment programs is: what is the role of age in the relationship between participation in the MY permit program, subsequent participation in hunter education, and the ultimate purchase of a youth hunting license and participation in hunting? More specific relevant questions include: who purchases the MY permit for the child, was the child aware of the purchase, had the child expressed an interest in hunting, and did the child ever accompany a licensed adult hunter on a hunt?

The proposed project uses a mixed-methods approach to investigate reasons for the "disconnect" between participation in Pennsylvania HTE and MY programs and subsequent participation in purchasing hunting licenses and related hunting behaviors. The project first conducts focus with participants in the MY and HTE programs and then, drawing on the findings from these groups, develops and implements a mail/online surveys of individuals sampled from both groups.

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