Last updated: January 11. 2014 11:00PM - 2125 Views
By - tvenesky@civitasmedia.com

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One million of anything is a lofty goal.

But when it comes to selling hunting licenses, it’s one that I think is attainable.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is embarking on a mission to increase its hunting license sales to one million. It’s a figure that hasn’t been reached since 2004, when more than 1,013,000 resident and non-resident licenses were sold by the agency.

In 2012, the Game Commission sold 943,583 resident and non-resident hunting licenses — marking an increase for the third straight year.

One million? It can be done.

Here’s how the PGC hopes to achieve the goal — the agency will launch an ad campaign with radio, online and print media, along with a website, www.gohuntpa.org, that will give users the basics on the current hunting seasons.

The Game Commission hopes to reach one million license sales by 2018. Considering there are already roughly 2.5 million people in the state who consider themselves hunters, adding another 57,000 license buyers to the 2012 total should be no problem.

Heck, why not aim for 1.5 million in license sales by 2020 if that many people already consider themselves hunters?

Before launching the campaign — which will initially target nine counties including Allegheny, Berks, Butler, Cambria, Cumberland, Erie, Lancaster, York and Westmoreland — the agencies conducted several studies to better understand their potential customers.

The biggest one, in my opinion, revealed that 25 percent of adults in Pennsylvania consider themselves hunters. That’s where the 2.5 million figure is derived.

It’s a strong number, one that appears to contradict the general mindset that hunters are a dying breed.

Another interesting finding is the amount of license buyers who drop in and drop out of the sport each year. According to another PGC study, more than 1.3 million people bought a hunting license during the four-year span from 2009-12. About half of them bought a license all four years, 13 percent made the purchase three out of the four years, 14 percent bought a license two out of the four years and 23 percent bought a license just one of the four years.

That’s a lot of people dropping in and out of the sport, and now the PGC wants them to come back and stay.

The aspect that I really like about the new campaign is the Game Commission is going to let the sport of hunting sell itself.

There are three main reasons why people hunt, according to yet another study. They are, in no particular order, to harvest a deer, relax and enjoy the outdoors, and to spend time with family and friends.

Those are the areas that will be the focus of the advertising campaign and that’s the right approach.

Still, there is yet another approach that many would like to see that could draw quite a few people back to the sport — increase deer numbers.

This might be the biggest selling point of them all. After all, if people see deer during the season, they stay interested in hunting and are more inclined to buy a license again.

While the agency can still make a few more tweaks to the current deer seasons, they have already made quite a few changes in recent years that should improve deer numbers in some areas.

Sure, more can be done, but let’s not overlook the steps that have already been taken.

Other potential selling points include providing more places to hunt — something that is also being done with an increase in the amount of acres purchased for Game Lands — and improve small game hunting. While many will argue, and rightly so, that the small game species simply aren’t as plentiful as they were years ago, the PGC has made strides in this area with increases to the pheasant allocation and habitat projects specifically targeting small game species.

Whether you agree or disagree with what the Game Commission does, anyone who enjoys hunting should be supportive of the agency’s mission to increase license sales.

Having one million hunters in the state again — that’s a goal we can all get behind.

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