Kat Ainsworth for TTAG
Previous Post
Next Post

By Larry Keane

There’s an encouraging trend happening now that will benefit America’s public lands and bring together generations of outdoor enthusiasts. People are hunting. It’s a welcome trend that could steer conservation for generations.

Firearm purchases in America reached record levels in 2020. Millions are first-time buyers, jumping off the fence and exercising their Second Amendment right to protect themselves and their families and property. NSSF surveyed firearm retailers and found shotguns, modern sporting rifles (MSRs) and traditional rifles were common purchases, giving hunting as one of the reasons for their purchases. Self-reliance for personal protection is an overwhelming drive for many gun buyers these days. Self-reliance for food is proving to be a motivator too.

License Sales

Hunters took advantage of stay-at-home emergency orders. Businesses in cities and small towns were closed, but the woods, fields and marshes remained mostly open. States saw record hunting license sales this spring. It was a natural reaction to the supply chain concerns and bare grocery store shelves. Americans became more concerned with their food supply. Turns out, the lands provide and provide richly.

Kansas saw the uptick. A “sharp spike” was reported in licenses purchased from 2019 to 2020. The itch for the outdoors hit 15-year old Kansan Allison Forgy, who said, “With COVID-19, many people are trying things that they have not done or have not done in a while.” Ben Jack, a manager at Southerlands Outdoors of Topeka, Kan., said he wasn’t surprised. “The popularity of hunting and archery has grown quite a bit,” he said.

Pennsylvania hunting license
Courtesy Pennsylvania Game Commission

North Carolina witnessed an uptick in one particular area as hunters bagged a record 23,341 wild turkeys in the spring season. Officials from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said that’s more than 5,000 more turkeys than the previous record set in 2017, and they believe the coronavirus was responsible for the increase. “Our turkey population is very robust, and in most areas, it can handle this additional harvest and hunting pressure quite well,” explained Chris Kreh, a biologist with NCWRC.

Outfitters in Idaho watched as license sales rose 150 percent over last year. Officials are seeing similar trends with duck hunting in North Dakota, pheasant hunting across Iowa and officials believe the 2020-2021 season will be a record-setting one in Pennsylvania. The list goes on and more positive numbers can be seen across the country.

Growing Hunters

Henry and Lakeisha Woodard aren’t new to hunting. They’ve been hunting deer and turkey in Mississippi together for over 12 years. During the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve been harnessing social media to promote their adventures and try to recruit new hunters through their platform HALO Chronicles.

Henry and Lakeisha Woodard
Courtesy HALO Chronicles

“We were like Noah preaching the flood, but now it’s like everyone is trying to come into the ark,” Henry said, according to a Business Insider report. Lakeisha agreed, “But what we’re doing, we’re trying to show people our way of life, and hopefully we may inspire someone.”

The two continue to head out together and post their outings, hoping more Americans will see their successes and feel the urge to follow suit.

Industry’s Contribution

NSSF developed and promoted programs to encourage more Americans to take part in hunting, and not just during times like the current coronavirus pandemic. Efforts like NSSF’s +ONE Movement, LetsGoHunting.org and LetsGoShooting.org provide ideas, resources and connections for people to take part in recreational shooting sports. Each outing is an opportunity for someone new to become introduced to the hunting and shooting sports with a mentor.

hunting hunters
(AP Photo/Jon-Pierre Lasseigne)

Each purchase of a hunting license, a firearm or ammunition, shows these hunters are supporting federal and state-funded conservation programs for healthy land management and wildlife population levels across the country to benefit wildlife for everyone to enjoy.

This is a positive trend that’s celebrated by the firearm industry. More Americans are turning to the outdoors to go hunting. Food is being harvested by their own hands and shared at tables with family and friends. Hunting is helping to reconnect Americans with more than the food in their freezer. Hunting is connecting hunting to America’s wild heart.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. COVID-19 is one thing, but clearly that first lady hunter was dealing with a touch of the Swine Flu.


    • Writes the ‘man’ who can’t get from his sofa to the fridge without an oxygen tank and water break.

      • Witness the incomparable acumen of All Hail, the master of wisdom and protector of our dignity! Bow before his radiance and gasp for joy in his presence.

    • “COVID-19 is one thing, but clearly that first lady hunter was dealing with a touch of the Swine Flu.”

      That’s Kat Ainsworth, and has authored hunting articles here at TTAG.

      …and I hope we can read more of her articles in the future…

  2. Just renewed my license. It expired yesterday. Dove and quail are my main deal. But I get other hunts in as well.

    If you want a challenge try crow. Critters is smart. I have to camo from head to foot and work the call like I knew what I was doing. Lots of fun.

    • JWM,

      If you want a challenge try crow.

      You are not kidding. When I was in high school, we had a somewhat lone, tall tree in our back yard, about 30 yards behind our home. Crows loved to land and roost in that thing. Every time I stepped out of our sliding glass doors into our back yard with my Marlin model 60 rifle in hand, they would immediately scatter. The only time I ever got a shot on a crow in that tree was when I sneaked out around the front of our home, sneaked over behind our fence, and peaked just over our fence with a sight line just under our pool water slide. They never saw me. They never got skittish. And the didn’t fly away until I pulled the trigger and dropped that crow.

      The only other time I shot a crow is when I was out with a shotgun in heavy brush and standing pretty close to the base of a mature tree that just happened to have a clear view to the very top. A crow was flying over head and I whipped up my shotgun for an immediate, instinctive shot that connected.

      They are wily buggers.

      • Here in SoCal, you practically have to walk up and throw a shoe to get them to move. They are not skittish here, and act like avian gangs, enforcing their turf around any and all garbage bins. I use a wrist rocket (braced slingshot, to you younger people under 40) to launch pebbles at the ones that congregate in their favorite spot at the top of my largest tree, where they will spend what seems like hours loudly “kawkaw-ing” and driving me nuts.

        A murder of crows.

        • Haz. Animals in close association to humans do change their habits a little. Try pointing a broomstick at them like a gun.

        • They have no fear until you drop one of their buddies. I get them in my tall trees in my back yard. I can’t be shooting regular firearms back there, certainly not my AK or .300 BLK AR, but my suppressed
          .22 PCP air rifle is just the ticket. Makes them mad when I knock one of them down but they don’t come back for a long LONG time. I’m not sure how you say “dirty rotten scum-bag bitch” in Crow, but I’ve been called that I’m quite sure.

        • Six minutes! Nice, Hail. Much better. I’m proud of you. Now go shine my shoes.

    • I read that wrong and thought you wrote “cow” instead, and reading that paragraph I was deep in a wtf mind frame.

  3. Hmm fresh air, fresh food, and lots of other reasons ..
    So we had it right all this time? Huh who woulda guessed

  4. I was in the store today continuing my hunt for those elusive 3-packs of paper towels. The store has licenses a harvest of only one per household, so I when I finally saw a small herd on the shelf today, I quietly stalked it to avoid drawing attention to myself and alerting other hunters. Got one…tagged it and bagged it. The wife is pleased.

    Unfortunately, the disinfectant wipes are still gone. I believe they were over-harvested and need time to repopulate.

  5. Hunting is skinny in Florida during the summer. That said, this has been a good news/bad news week for me. Bad news: hogs are back and rooting up our summer food plots. Good news: they give me something to chase other than tresspassers fishing in ponds and creeks. Good news: Ray, my #1 quail hunting partner closed on 172 acres contiguous with his already owned 500+/-. Intends to put in another dove field and a couple of quail courses. Bad news: I’m getting spread too thin on hunting land. Remember, if you can’t hunt; fish. Good news: grouper and red snapper season open now. Bad news: scallop season opened today. What to do? Fish offshore or dive for scallops? This was sarcasm of course. Get outdoors. And take a kid.

    • Crabbing can be a fun family adventure, except when it’s not.
      Chicken or squid was the bait on our trolling lines for blue crabs in a local cove. We’d never use traps, just a line, net and a bucket. One of the kids spilled rotten squid bait in the back of the SUV one summer. Even after multiple washings, the vehicle stank on hot days for a couple years.
      One of the things I want to do if I relocate to Texas is hog hunting … but not with kids.

      • We use heavy surf poles with snares and squid bait for dungeness and red rock crab here in CA. Lot of fun and good eats to boot.

    • jwm, don’t know how they grow ’em where you live. But, if I told the kids I know there might be a snake or bear hiding they would insist on the lead.

  6. If you do manage to skin one they stink when you cook them. They will also give you intestinal disorders if you eat them. Hell, they give me intestinal disorders if I only see/hear them.

  7. I do not hunt. Nothing against it, just not for me. So, all I can contribute to this thread is a little humor:

    Two hunters were driving through the country to go bear hunting when they came upon a fork in the road.

    There was a sign which read, “BEAR LEFT”.

    So they turned round and went home.

  8. A buddy of mine is an avid turkey hunter. He doesn’t enjoy it here in the upper midwest as much as he did in back in Alabama. The turkeys down there are, according to him, cagier and more challenging than their northern cousins.

    Myself, I’ve never been hunting. I wouldn’t mind learning to hunt ‘yotes, though.

  9. Gang, has anyone else noticed that TTAG is dying? It’s time to bring Robert Farago back for a business consultation. No offense, Dan.

    • “Gang, has anyone else noticed that TTAG is dying?”

      Nope, TTAG is doing just fine. 🙂

      Why don’t you go shine my shoes…

    • Lol… Farago ran off all of the good writers and then bailed out as the engines started to sputter.

      Did the same thing at TTAC, but everyone swore that wasnt going to happen here.

      • He was a free market capitalist. He formed the company, built it up and then sold it. Nothing more American than that.

        • Yep. I don’t think there was really any secret about that — at some point he was bound to spin it off.

          Where I noticed a drop was in the reviews. Except for JWT and the occasional drive-by from Jeremy S., they’re nowhere near as interesting or useful as they used to be. Well, and then there’s the fact that nobody can write quite like Farago, and he somehow managed to write 5+ articles a day all by himself.

          So no, TTAG isn’t the same as it used to be — there’s no way it could be — but even so, it’s still the best place on the internets for gun-related articles and discussion.

        • This. 100% this. The reviews are now few and far between. They are replaced with sponsored content. What happened to Nick and the breadth and depth of content from the old days? RF provided excellent, amusing writing and useful, relevant insights. The combined TTAG team provided a well rounded view of the gun world. Now the content reads more like an automated RSS news feed, sponsored posts, and little else.

          The comments are all that has kept me coming back. (Here’s looking at you, Ralph, jwm, and Ing. I hope you guys are getting paid for this. If you’re not, you should be, because you’re carrying this place.)

          In these unprecedented times, and with the political and social shifts in play, this should be a renaissance for active communities like TTAG.

          And yes, I’ve been around for years. Dan, no offense, but in that time the relevance of TTAG is dropping off. Are you really getting the support you need? It’s gone from scrappy and useful to a cash cow tinged with bitterness, carried on the backs of the commentators, both new and old.

          We should expect better.

        • There’s always TFB.
          It’s like a sore weenie, it can’t be beat. Good reviews, video, and humor.

        • Thank you, good sir. Not sure I measure up in quality, and I certainly don’t in quantity, but I’m very flattered to be mentioned with Ralph and jwm. If I were making my own list of people that make it worth coming back on a daily basis, I’d start with those two and add Strych9, Tom in Oregon, Geoff PR, I Haz a Question, and Sam I Am. There’s a few more I could add, but I always stop and pay attention when I see those names.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here