Estimating the economic value of big game hunting in Georgia
Mingie, James Cory
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Big game hunting is an important outdoor recreation activity that generates billions of dollars in expenditures each year nationwide. In recent decades, lease hunting on private farm and forestland has become popular in Georgia and other southeastern states. The objectives of this study were to model big game hunting trip demand for public and private land access types, identify hunter preferences for lease attributes, and identify factors correlated with individual hunting club dues. To accomplish these objectives, a mail survey was sent to 3,000 licensed big game hunters in Georgia in 2012 and achieved an adjusted response rate of 24.4%. The travel cost method was used to model big game hunting trip demand for different land access types. Consumer surplus estimates associated with trips to leased land were largest, while those associated with trips to public land were smallest. Factors affecting trip demand included travel costs, age, retirement status, and hunting experience; while factors affecting demand to lease sites specifically included lease size and membership. A choice experiment was used to identify hunter preferences for lease attributes. Lease alternatives contained varying levels of the following attributes: price, lease size, membership, buck harvesting regulations, and forest management activity. An analysis of choice responses revealed that big game hunters preferred leases with greater acreages and leases with fewer members. Hunters also preferred leases with more restrictive buck harvesting regulations and sites that had not been recently clearcut. Hedonic valuation was used to explain variation in hunters’ self-reported big game hunting club dues. Lease size, presence of food plots, and game quality had a positive effect on individual club dues while membership had a negative effect. Results from this research provide a greater understanding of aspects related to the economic value of big game hunting. Findings can be used to educate landowners on big game hunter preferences. For lessors specifically, results indicate that management decisions can be made to increase lease revenue. In addition, policymakers can use the results to better understand the value of big game hunting in Georgia and how hunters respond to price changes based on access type.