Small game license sales remain below 10-year averages

The number of small game hunters in Minnesota continues to decline along a long-term trendline. The number of small game licenses sold in 2021 was 233,901, down 4% from the previous year and 7% below the 10-year average.

Hunters who did pursue waterfowl, grouse, and pheasants had success rates similar to the 10-year averages, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ hunter mail survey.

The survey covers estimated harvest and number of hunters for two dozen species. The survey asked small game license buyers whether they hunted, what species they hunted and harvest numbers. Using the 2021 survey results, the DNR estimates the following harvest and hunter numbers:

  • Canada goose – Harvest of 218,200 geese, down 13% from the 10-year average of 251,800 geese. There were 36,100 hunters, down 26% from the 10-year average of 48,800 hunters.
  • Ducks – Harvest of 590,000 ducks, down 16% from the 10-year average of 702,800 ducks. There were 56,600 hunters, which was 21% below the 10-year average of 71,900 hunters.
  • Ruffed grouse – Harvest of 206,700 grouse, down 27% from the 10-year average of 281,900 grouse. Approximately 57,300 hunters pursued grouse in 2021, 26% below the 10-year average of 77,900 hunters.
  • Pheasants – Pheasant stamp sales (78,538 stamps) were 4% below the previous year’s sales but similar to the 10-year average of 78,873 stamps. Harvest was estimated at 210,300 roosters, which was slightly above the 10-year average of 200,400 roosters. There were 49,000 hunters, which was 18% below the 10-year average of 60,000 hunters.

The complete small game hunter survey report is on the DNR website (mndnr.gov/Wildlife/Research/Wildlife-Research-Publications.html#Reports).

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