A Tale of Hunts: Analyzing Hunting Trends from 2019 to 2022

The global outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 had a marked impact on hunting tourism. Travel restrictions and safety measures resulted in many hunters canceling or postponing their trips, causing a downturn in the industry. However, by 2022 the situation has returned to normal – or has it? Let’s look at the statistics, and compare sales before and after the pandemics. With information on the species hunted, destinations chosen, and the nationalities of hunters, we’ll try to see what changed and where – and if the findings support our predictions made in the middle of the COVID crisis.  

The Hunting Grounds: Changing Landscapes and the New Winner! 

In 2019 the most popular destination on BookYourHunt.com was Wyoming, followed by Colorado and Texas. Each of these three states attracted more hunters than Canada and South Africa! In 2022 things changed somewhat. Although in absolute numbers Wyoming and Colorado remained as popular as ever, and even saw a slight increase in bookings, the 76% growth of hunts in Texas helped it surpass Wyoming as the most popular destination for outfitted hunting trips in 2022. British Columbia experienced a similar surge in popularity, ending in second place among US states and Canadian provinces in 2022.

Table for states and provinces

As far as the countries go, the USA again remains on the top of the most popular destinations list, and Canada accounts for the second place in both years. However, while both leaders saw a significant increase in the number of hunts booked (35% and 40% respectively), their total share of the market slightly shrunk: by almost 3% for the USA  and by 0.7% for Canada. What that could mean is that while the interest in domestic hunts among American hunters grew, the interest in hunting abroad (and among hunters of other nationalities) grew even stronger! South Africa remained the third most popular country to go hunting in among BookYourHunt.com clients with more than twice the number of hunts booked in 2022 than in 2019, and the United Kingdom and Greenland rising sharply in popularity last year, displacing Russia and Argentina in the Top 5.

Most popular countries

Overall, the data supports the predictions and trends we made on the basis of our COVID survey. In short, hunters want to hunt. If they can’t go to some countries like Russia and Belarus, which predictably dropped in popularity after Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, they will go to other parts of the globe. If they can’t go abroad, they will rediscover hunting opportunities close to home. Hunting landscapes may change, but the drive to hunt remains. 

The Game: Familiar Targets and New Pursuits

What is the most popular animal among hunters? If you said “white-tailed deer” you’ve hit the bullseye: in both 2019 and 2022 it remained the most sought-after game, with the number of booked hunts  increasing by 55%.  The black bear, another American favorite, also retained a high level of interest, and hunters booked 28% more black bear hunts, securing the bruin as second place on the most popular animals list. Elk and moose are featured in the Top 5 in both years, with the number of moose hunts booked growing by 30%.

Table for most popular species

Trending in 2022 appears to be the muskox hunts in Greenland, a destination which didn’t feature among the top destinations in 2019 but held 4.50% of bookings in 2022. Another species that saw a rise in hunters’ interest was the red deer. There were 76% more bookings for the “royal game” in 2022 than in 2022, helping the stag to rise from 6th to 3rd place. Last but not the least, an equally impressive growth in bookings of hunts for common springbok, and continued interest in other plains game species traditionally included in first-timers package hunts, such as impala, wildebeest and common blesbuck, suggests that an ever increasing number of hunters have done their first African hunting safari in the year of 2022.

What surprised us a little is the performance of the traditional quarries for guided hunts in the West: the elk, the pronghorn, and the mountain lion. In absolute terms, they remain as popular as ever – the number of bookings for these animals were on the same level in 2022 as in 2019. However, in relative terms, the pronghorn and the mountain lion went a few notches down on the most popular species lists. A likely explanation for that is that American hunters are making up for the years of travel bans that prevented them from doing the popular moose hunts in Canada and red stag hunts in Argentina and New Zealand, as well as other animals all over the globe. 

The Hunters: Nationalities on the Move

America first! We’re proud to prove once again that the United States supports its status as the most outdoors-friendly country in the world, leading in each of our statistical categories. The most popular animal to hunt, the white-tailed deer, is American, the most popular country to hunt in is America, and of course the lion’s share of our clients are Americans. This is true for both 2019 and 2022 (and any year since BookYourHunt’com’s launch in 2015), and hunters who list “The United States” as the country of origin in their profiles probably booked 14% more hunts in 2022 than they did in 2019. The second place in both years was taken, quite expectedly, by Canada.

Table of hunters home countries

However, BookYourHunt.com is holding up to its status as an international online marketplace as well. Unfortunately, not all clients list their country of origin when registering, but available data suggests  we have significantly increased our presence abroad: the number of our international clients has grown by 50%. The most spectacular rise was recorded in the UK – with an 158% growth in booking numbers, the old merry island nearly caught up with Canada in 2022. And hunters from South Africa, whose presence on BookYourHunt.com in 2019 was only marginal, shot up to the fourth place in 2022.  

Although we can’t tell whether this growth is due to local hunters or hunting tourism, hunters’ reviews suggest that a lot of people in the United Kingdom discovered hunting as an affordable way to procure healthy protein and rediscover ties to nature during the pandemic, with quite a few people harvesting their first animals thanks to BookYourHunt.com. As for South Africa, cut off from their usual American and European clientele by travel bans, South African outfitters began marketing their hunts to local hunters more aggressively, and local hunters turned their eyes to new-to-them opportunities at home.

The Trendsetters: Takeaways from the Data

Our statistics may not be representative for the whole outdoors industry, but the segment of booking hunting trips online appears to be on the rise, both in the number of hunts booked and in the amount of money hunters spend. Despite the economic uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, hunters remained willing to invest in their pursuits, affirming the enduring appeal of hunting as a recreational activity. The total number of bookings on BookYourHunt.com in 2022 rose by 46% as compared to 2019 while the average price of the hunt increased by 17%. The number of bookings may reflect the delayed demand, while the growing prices resulting from both inflation and the desire of the outfitters to make up for their losses during the pandemics – just as we predicted in 2020. 

If you’ve long dreamt about that hunting adventure – book it while you can. BookYourHunt.com will help you find one from the most trusted outfitters at the best possible price. 

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