TWEL Dissertation Adam Pettis

Assessing Hunting Participation Correlates in Ohio: An Examination of Influences and Scholarship Related to the Pursuit of Wild Game

Adam Levi Pettis, Ph.D
Advisor: Jeremy T. Bruskotter

Dissertation

In a relatively short period of time, hunting has progressed from an activity vital to human survival to a form of outdoor recreation that represents a net monetary loss for most participants.  Hunting participation in the United States is in long term decline, but with occasional spikes in popularity.  With declining participation, the importance of hunting as an economic activity has waned, and wildlife professionals and social scientists have struggled to find viable, predictable, cost effective ways to influence hunting initiation and continuation (also referred to as "recruitment" and "retention").  While early literature concerning hunting participation has certainly advanced from hunter tallies and animal harvests trends, gaps exist in understanding what factors influence hunting participation.  A preliminary step in understanding these gaps is to situate the existing body of research on hunting participation within the social science disciplines of sociology, psychology, and social psychology.  The goal is to trace how theory from these disciplines has been used to understand hunting participation and thereby identify biases and blind spots in the existing literature.  Once the field has been situated two questions that speak to long-term trends in hunting participation can be examined.  Specifically, (a) how increasingly popular support for alternative food impacts hunting participation, as well as (b) how do economic characteristics influence shifting value orientations presumed to affect attitudes toward hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation.  The increasing popularity of alternative food ideologies has generated excitement among many wildlife professionals, who suspect alternative food supporters may be attracted to hunting due to perceived benefits of wild game meat, but little rigorous quantitative research exists on this subject.  Similarly, though research on wildlife-related value orientations provided new avenues to examine hunting participation trends, tests are limited and concentrated in the western United States.  Also, the methods and measurement employed in such studies have exhibited some inconsistency.  The current work will clarify: the origins and current disciplinary affiliation of hunting participation literature, the relationship of alternative food support with prohunting behaviors and attitudes, and the relationship between value orientations and socioeconomic characteristics of individuals in Ohio.