If any surprise exists for the buying habits of American hunters and anglers it is that there are no surprises.
Or at least only a few surprises.
The highly respected and thoroughly performed summaries of buying trends performed by the co-joined AnglerSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com are go-to insights useful for their respective industries, state fish and game agencies and even sportsmen and sportswomen.
Pooled together under the banner Southwick and Associates, the latest compilations illustrate just how traditional-bound are the nation’s anglers, hunters, and shooters.
Among the most recent AnglerSurvey.com’s findings were that the vast majority of fishing rod and reel combinations were – on average – one-half the cost of purchasing rods and reels separately in order to make an assembly.
This trend is easily noticeable in any good fishing tackle or general purpose outdoors store where such “combos” are often more numerous than the racks of reels and the counter displays of fishing reels, each of which is looking for a suitable partner and a good home.
Also, spinnerbaits are much less popular fishing baits than are hardbaits and jigs. Meanwhile, more than a little bit are the sales of various terminal tackle (hooks, bobbers, sinkers) made at local bait and tackle stores.
In both of these cases every head ought to bow in recognizable understanding.
So too is what anglers seek with largemouth/spotted bass so far in the popularity lead (50 percent of fresh-water anglers) that the second place category – panfish – is way far back; less than 35 percent, in fact.
Sorry, Lake Erie walleye anglers, nationally AnglerSurvey found that only 14 percent of the surveyed anglers sought this species. It’s even less for steelhead; try 5.9 percent.
And almost as many anglers seek carp (2.2 percent) as do those who seek white bass (2.9 percent).
If any eyebrow-raising was seen in the AnglerSurvey.com findings it is that fly fishers are far more likely to utilize the Internet than are anglers who utilize other types of fishing gear.
AnglerSurvey.com found that while fly fishers made 32 percent of their purchases in specialty angling stores,\ some 33 percent went on-line an made buys via fly-fishing websites.
Then again – and certainly predictable – is that flies were the Number One purchase made by fly fishers, though a “huh?” is credible regarding the AnglerSurvey.com finding that of the flies purchased more than one-half were nymph patterns, and not dry flies, streamers, and wet flies.
Too, of the fishers profiled in the latest survey, 65 percent of the respondents fished in freshwater only, 20 percent in saltwater only, and 15 percent fished in both mediums.
(As a personal aside, during several fishing trips I’ve made to Florida I’ve always been amazed as to how many saltwater anglers and freshwater anglers fished only their own respective turf, and even acted astonished when asked whether they’ve ever crossed over to the other side.)
Anyway, a couple of other surprising/not-so-surprising numbers is that more freshwater anglers fished from powerboats (65 percent) than those who fished from shore (39 percent).
On the okay-we’ve-got-something-new-to-report-here side, more anglers fished from kayaks (12) than either from bass boats (7 percent), from canoes (2 percent), or from float-tubes (also 2 percent.)
That fishing from kayaks has grown so rapidly is also likely being noted in the growing presence such vessels are having in larger outdoors retail stores.
Moving on to hunting, HunterSurvey.com hardly shatters the world with the news that 9mm and .45 Auto – in that order – remain the most popular handgun cartridges.
Hardly surprising either is that the vast majority of handguns purchases were for self-defense (45 percent).
A figure I’m not sure how to interpret other than to note the continued supply shortage of .22 long rifle cartridges, is that for every box of rimfire ammunition sold, shooters bought three boxes of center-fire rifle ammunition.
Not even worth a wrinkled brow in surprise is that purchases of lead shot shotshells are twice as popular as those containing non-lead shot.
Oh, and in spite of inroads made by such firms as Mossberg, Winchester, Weatherby and Beretta, the making, marketing and selling of affordable shotguns, far and away Remington remains the Number One preferred.
Something of a personal eyebrow twitch-raiser was how Pyrodex still holds the top spot in sales for black-powder substitutes and not Triple Seven or any of the other current stable of black-powder exchange materials.
In terms of why people bought hunting/firearm-related products during the survey period for November-December, for the use in hunting was most at 36.2 percent. Meanwhile, purchases for general shooting were 31.5 percent, self-defense at 14.9 percent, and gift at 9.5 percent.
Again when thinking about no-brainer firearms/hunting-related, ammunition accounted for 63.7 percent of sales while the purchases of firearms ranked fifth at 40.9 percent.
Purchases of shooting equipment, hunting equipment and even hunting apparel ranked higher than did the buying of firearms.
Maybe an “oh, boy” surprise is the statistic whereby more air rifles were bought during the survey period (4 percent) than were crossbows (3.5 percent.)
Okay, since this story is also about no surprises here’s one: Of the types of shotguns purchased during the survey period it wasn’t even close. Pump-action models accounted for 40.7 percent of such buys. Trailing behind were semi-autos at 30.8 percent.
Hardly a blip were the sales of over/unders (13.9 percent), side-by-sides (9.9 percent), and single shot shotguns (2.8 percent).
Anyone startled by these numbers? Didn’t think so.
In the arena of archery tackle sales, I was taken aback somewhat by the fact that many more purchasers said they bought longbows (19.8 percent) than did those people saying they purchase crossbows (10.1 percent).
So there you have it. Pump-action shots remain king of the hill as does 9mm ammunition, the Internet sale of fishing flies, and fishing for largemouth bass.
On the other hand, a bit of noteworthiness is how in spite of more states liberalizing the allowance of crossbows for hunting, longbow sales still rank supreme.
Similarly, on the trends-to-watch categories is the growth of fishing from kayaks as well as the one for sales of fishing reel-fishing rod combinations.
Take all of this to the bank, if you will; and I suspect that is exactly what the shooting/hunting/fishing industries are doing with such reports as those under the banner of AnglingSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com.
- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.