The "Gohunt Effect" Reflected in Nonresident Elk Tag Applications
By Mountain Pursuit
A highly-reference 2016 report from the US Fish & Wildlife Service found that overall hunters in the United States declined by 2 million from 2011 to 2016, to 11.5 million.
However, any hunter living in the Western US who has internet access has seen an explosion in gear companies, online businesses, podcasts, internet forums, celebrity hunters and hunting movies publicizing and marketing big game hunting out West.
Mountain Pursuit calls this the "Gohunt" effect after the website gohunt.com.
Gohunt.com is the first website specifically designed to help non-residents research and apply for big game hunting licences in the Western States.
Every Western State has a different nonresident hunting license application process, and rules, application deadline, and license fees which can be very complicated to navigate for non-resident hunters. Gohunt.com, started in 2013, is the first online research source of its kind and not only includes information on hunting license draw strategies, but individual hunt area/unit draw statistics, male to female animal ratios, trophy animal potential, etc.
Gohunt.com has a subscription-service business model, where nonresident hunters pay a monthly subscription fee for access to the most detailed hunting license draw strategies and draw statistics.
Gohunt.com founding in 2013 corresponded to explosive growth for backcountry hunting performance clothing companies Sitka Gear (founded 2005) and Kuiu (founded 2010).
Sitka Gear's growth did not go unnoticed, and the company was purchased by W.L. Gore in 2010, when Sitka co-founder Jason Hairston broke off and started Sitka competitor Kuiu.
A quick search of stitcher.com, a podcast hosting site, discovers 31 separate Western big game hunting podcasts. At least two Western Big Game film festivals travel the film circuit every winter, and multiple periphery western big game hunting fitness companies, fitness event companies, nutrition supplement companies and hunting coffee companies, and hunting-specific t-shirt design companies, and number of celebrity big game hunters and personalities have all exploded since 2013.
The cumulative effect of company marketing via social media, trade shows, podcasts, movies, youtube videos and television shows all demonstrate that while the overall number of hunters in the United States may be declining, the interest and money spent to hunt big game in the Western US is exploding.
To put some raw numbers to this effect, we researched nonresident Elk license applications for four Western states, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Colorado from 2013-2018.
Overall, nonresident applications for general elk tags in Wyoming, and limited quota tags in Montana, Idaho and Colorado increased an average of 62.4% from 2013-2018.
Mountain Pursuit has come under criticism by nonresident hunters for our position advocating a significant preference of hunting license allocation for Western state resident hunters.
The resident tag allocation for these state has not changed in recent years, but, because of the explosion in interest Western big game hunting driven by the "Gohunt Effect," and subsequent increase in nonresident tag applications, it's become significantly more difficult for nonresidents to draw Western state restricted tags.