Fewer hunters in 2022 small game survey results
The number of small game hunters in Minnesota in 2022 was similar to the previous year but continued to trend below the 10-year average.
Overall, 228,143 small game licenses were sold for the 2022-23 hunting seasons, compared to 233,901 small game licenses sold in 2021-22.
Notably, hunters who did pursue waterfowl, grouse and pheasants had fairly similar success rates compared to the 10-year averages, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ small game hunter mail survey.
The annual survey estimates harvest and number of hunters for two dozen species. The survey asks small game license buyers if they hunted, what species they hunted, how many days they spent hunting, and the number harvested per species.
Highlights of the 2022 results for approximate harvest, hunter numbers, and success include:
Ducks – 81,864 state duck stamps were sold, which was 3% below 2021 sales and 8% below the 10-year average. Harvest of 470,300 ducks, down 32% from the 10-year average of 693,600 ducks. There were 45,200 hunters, which was 35% below the 10-year average of 69,900 hunters. Eighty-three percent of hunters were successful, bagging 12.6 ducks on average, which was greater than the 10-year average of 11.7 ducks.
Canada geese – Harvest of 127,500 geese, down 48% from the 10-year average of 245,500 geese. There were 27,200 hunters, down 42% from the 10-year average of 46,800 hunters. Hunter success was 71%, with successful hunters bagging 6.6 geese on average, which was similar to the 10-year average.
Ruffed grouse – Harvest of 237,700 grouse, which was 10% below the 10-year average of 264,200 grouse. An estimated 64,600 hunters pursued grouse in 2022, 14% below the 10-year average of 74,800 hunters. Hunter success was 69%, with successful hunters bagging 5.4 grouse, which was similar to the 10-year average of five grouse.
Pheasants – 77,448 pheasant stamps were sold in 2022, which was similar to 2021 sales and the 10-year average. Harvest of 204,000 roosters, which was similar to the 10-year average of 201,600 roosters. There were 52,300 hunters, which was down 9% from the 10-year average of 57,500 hunters. Hunter success was 68%, which was similar to the 10-year average, but successful hunters bagged 5.8 roosters compared to the 10-year average of 5.2 roosters.
The results from duck and pheasant stamp sales reflect that some hunters may have a hunting tradition and bought duck or pheasant stamps, and then ultimately did not go hunting last year.
To help get more hunters afield, the DNR has been working to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters in a variety of ways that aim to get more of these hunters afield.
Examples include the Take a Friend Hunting campaign (mndnr.gov/gohunting/take-friend-hunting.html) with Pheasants Forever and sharing tips through weekly skills webinars (mndnr.gov/discover).
The complete small game hunter survey report is on the DNR website (mndnr.gov/wildlife/research/wildlife-research-publications.html#reports).