Most Popular Search Term: Squirrel, Coon or Rabbit Hunting?

When it comes to small-game hunting, how do these three Google search terms compare? What's most popular by state, and does coon hunting even rank?
Most Popular Search Term: Squirrel, Coon or Rabbit Hunting?

Coon hunting in Virginia, circa 1907

Among three, small-game hunting pursuits, which ranks higher in Google Trends: Squirrel hunting, coon hunting or rabbit hunting?

First, a word about Google Trends: If you want to make comparisons between search terms, this is a fun tool to check out. But it's not as useful for pinpointing the raw number of the times a keyword or phrase has been searched. Instead, Google Trends indexes its data to 100, where 100 is the maximum search interest for the time and location selected.

In the Trends graph below, the search phrase "squirrel hunting" was the most searched term over the last 12 months when comparing the phrase to the search terms "rabbit hunting" and "coon hunting." But "squirrel hunting" didn't dominate. The interest in coon hunting and rabbit hunting held its own.

How does this compare to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's national survey? The 2016 report matches up nicely with the popularity of squirrel and rabbit hunting, but coon hunting doesn't get a mention in the 144-page survey results.

Among small game species mentioned in this wildlife census, squirrels were the most popular quarry with 1.5 million small-game hunters hunting them 11 million days in 2016. Rabbits were hunted by 1.3 million participants for 20 million days. The survey's other small game receiving mentions included quail, pheasants and grouse.

Popularity of Small-Game Hunting by Region

Recently a reader commented on a deer-hunting article posted to Grand View Outdoors. He wrote that he often sees stories about how to hunt deer on public land, but he’d like to see more stories about hunting squirrel on public land. Perhaps that comment prompted this quick look at small-game hunting trends.

The data shows that big-game hunters far outnumber small-game hunters: There are 9.2 million big-game hunters, while only 3.5 million hunters pursued small game. Still, for those offering content in niche markets, 3.5 million is pretty substantial.

So where are these guys (and gals) who like to chase small game? Not surprisingly, South Carolina and Alabama are big fans of coon hunting. And surprisingly, rabbit hunting is a popular search term in California, by comparison.

Google Trends offers this regional breakdown:

If you go back to the 1960s and 70s, before big game like deer were as densely populated as they are today, you’ll see small-game hunters gracing the covers of outdoor magazines. You don't see that anymore. But there is a sense that some hunters miss those days, especially when they start reminiscing about a grandfather's annual rabbit hunt on Thanksgiving Day, or that time a few crazy buddies rode around all night looking for a coon dog and found him a couple hours before sunrise.

One thing is certain, small-game hunting allows for more walking and moving. And you're often hunting in small groups, which makes it fun. Those two attributes alone can be a welcome change after a few months of hard, solitary hunting in pursuit of elk or deer or another big-game animal that demands your attention.



Featured photo: Life in Old Virginia (Wikipedia)


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