posted on November 04, 2013 07:47
Even when bird numbers are down, it’s doesn’t stop the usual Minnesota upland hunters from gearing up for the season. Apparently, it doesn’t stop new hunters from joining in either.
The state recently published a report showing that the popularity of small game hunting has actually risen from last year, despite a decline in both pheasant and ruffed grouse numbers. Other small game like squirrels, rabbits, ducks and geese haven’t seen an increase in popularity like this for several years.
In 2012, more than 295,000 small-game licenses were sold in Minnesota, an increase of about 4,000 compared to the previous year. Much of this increase in popularity has to do with the construction of the different seasons. It also seems that people are attempting to hunt different types of small game to make having gone through the trouble of purchasing a license and the necessary gear worthwhile.
The ruffed grouse continues to be the most popular small game in the state even though the bird is at the low point of its 10-year-cycle. Despite there being nearly a 35% drop in the amount of birds harvested per hunter (from 4 birds per hunter in 2011 to only 2.6 in 2012), Minnesota saw a 6% increase in the overall amount of hunters targeting the grouse.
Not surprisingly, the ring-necked pheasant takes a close second in terms of popularity. Nearly 91,000 hunters took home about 264,000 roosters. Disappearing habitat due to expanding agriculture has put a kink in the bird’s reproduction processes, giving us lower numbers as of late.
The most surprising statistic: more than 29,000 hunters targeted the gray squirrel last year. That’s more than 2,000 hunters compared to the previous year.
It’s good to see that, even with what might be a down year regarding bird numbers, the popularity of small game hunting is on the rise in at least one state.