bowhunting states numberAre you looking for some good news for the archery industry? Not only did U.S. bowhunting license sales hit an all-time high in 2010 (an estimated 3.64 million), but the 2010 season also posted the largest year-over-year growth (144,363 more than 2009) of any in the past 10 years.

The growth marks the eighth year in a row U.S. bowhunting license sales have risen, helped along by a total of 24 states that posted license sales increases, and despite sales declines (though most rather nominal) in a total of 12 states.

As we point out each year with our survey results, tabulating unique bowhunter numbers in each state and province remains an inexact science, due to several factors that include a wide range of tabulating systems.

Among the more notable year-over-year increases (and which underlines the dilemma of ferreting out precise bowhunter numbers) includes the 276,664 bowhunting licenses reported for 2010 by Wisconsin—an increase of 18,764 over the 257,900 the Badger State reported in 2009. Wisconsin officials said the 2010 total reflects the sale of licenses that included deer bowhunting privileges (244,851 residents, 9,620 nonresidents, and 22,193 mentored hunters). Not counted in the total are bowhunters who bought a general hunting license (turkey and bear) that allows for both gun and archery privileges.

Another notable increase in 2010 was the huge jump to 45,637 bowhunters by Kansas, which had reported 21,563 bowhunters in 2009, and a previous 10-year high of 25,059 back in 2007. The 45,637 number includes those who hunted deer during the 2010 archery deer season, said Kansas Big Game Coordinator Lloyd Fox, who used a new method to tabulate his state’s bowhunters.

“This [new] method provides a better estimate of the number of hunters using each season than the method based on sales of permits,” Fox explained. “For example, if we used permit sales and ‘archery-only’ permits there would be fewer than 7,000 residents classified as bowhunters. In Kansas we allow archery equipment during a firearm season and we also allow residents to purchase a permit valid during all the seasons if the hunter uses the equiment allowed for that season. The majority of resident bowhunters in Kansas select the types of permits that allow them to hunt additional seasons with alternative equipment.”

Florida also seemed to take the Kansas approach to license counting in 2010, reporting a total of 55,007 bowhunting licenses sold, an impressive 26,038 more than the 28,969 it reported in 2009. Florida’s new tabulation system for 2010 counted archery permits and licenses that included an archery permit. The state acknowledged that archery permits included with some licenses may or may not have been used, and that its 2010 number did not include lifetime license holders under 16, residents 65 or older, and disabled residents exempt from archery permit requirement.

The most recent state hunter survey was the reason for still another notable increase (12,800, to a 2010 total of 49,300) posted by Louisiana, and a recent hunter survey also was behind one of the most-notable state decreases—South Dakota’s drop from 26,566 in 2009 to 19,000 in 2010—but there is a caveat. What is it? The state reports that it actually sold more than 30,000 archery tags in 2010, yet apparently a good portion fell out via the survey. The lesson here is simple: Tabulating U.S. bowhunting license sales, and deciphering precise bowhunter numbers, sounds a whole lot easier than it actually is. Still, Archery Business continues to publish the most-accurate and comprehensive information found anywhere. Enjoy.