NORC Modernizes a Landmark Survey, Finds Record Growth in Outdoor Pursuits & Spending
Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation Set Records in 2022
When COVID-19 pushed many of us outdoors in 2020, there was an unspoken belief that a return to “normal” would lead to a drop in outdoor activity. Not so, according to the latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (FHWAR). It shows that in 2022 alone, U.S. outdoor enthusiasts age 16 and older took a record 1.7 billion trips to hunt, fish, watch wildlife, boat, and shoot at targets. Specifically, 57 percent (148 million) watched wildlife, 15 percent (40 million) fished, and six percent (14.4 million) hunted.
They spent an all-time high of 14 billion days in nature and $394 billion—on gear, travel, licenses, and fees—doing so.
NORC Modernizes Survey Conducted Since 1955
These are just some of many findings from a newly revamped FHWAR. In 2020, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies—in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—tasked NORC with updating the historic survey to mitigate declining response rates and reduce costs.
“When the survey first launched in 1955, the best way to ask Americans about their outdoor pursuits was through in-person interviews,” said Martha Stapleton, principal research director in NORC’s Economics, Justice & Society department. “Now, we have multiple tools to help us bring the best data to local and state organizations so that they can fine-tune their conservation programs to preserve wildlife habitats for both wildlife and its enthusiasts.”
Researchers streamlined the survey by refining its content and replacing in-person interviewing with a “push-to-web” approach that invites randomly selected and targeted households through mailed invitations to take the survey online, on paper, or by phone. NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel helped identify rural residents, and our TrueNorth® methodology reduced bias in the targeted sample.
Experts completed 100,000+ interviews and attribute the survey’s success, in part, to their collegial working relationship with the client.
“We cannot overstate how much our close collaboration—which included many in-person meetings and much back and forth on all aspects of our approach—has made the survey a more precise instrument that yields reliable and scientifically rigorous results,” said Martha Stapleton.
This article is from our flagship newsletter, NORC Now. NORC Now keeps you informed of the full breadth of NORC’s work, the questions we help our clients answer, and the issues we help them address.