When the Colorado Wildlife Council (CWC) started a TV ad campaign a few years ago to reach out to the urban, non-hunting public with a positive, friendly message about hunting and fishing, no one knew exactly what effect it would have.
The ad campaign, known as “Hug a Hunter” and “Hug an Angler,” consists of a series of 30-second ads geared to those with no knowledge about hunting and fishing. As NRAHLF.org reported when the campaign launched in 2016, the ads convey a simple message: Hunting and fishing are beneficial to all outdoor users and to the state’s economy. These ads run on the major TV channels during morning and evening news and prime time on stations in Colorado Springs, Denver, Grand Junction and Durango. The TV ads are supported by a website and social media strategy, as well as 30-second radio ads on Pandora.
To find out if it’s working, the CWC allocated funding for a series of surveys to be performed over several years that would measure the campaign’s effect. Surveys were conducted in October 2016, May 2017 and, most recently, in January 2018. The data from the latest survey is back and the results are conclusive: The campaign’s core message is resonating among those who have seen it.
Coloradoans surveyed this year are more likely to understand the benefits of license fees to state and wildlife management than those in previous surveys. Further, the number of Coloradoans who would support a ballot initiative to further restrict hunting or fishing has slightly decreased. Even a slight decrease in such opposition is good news, especially when you consider the corresponding increase in the state’s population over that same period, and the deep divisions within today’s political climate.
Among the things the new survey found was that six in 10 Coloradoans say they support hunting. This was consistent with the last survey. As well, eight in 10 support fishing. Those who had seen the Hug a Hunter ads were more likely to say they support hunting than those who had not.
Three in 10 people surveyed recalled the ads; most had seen them on TV. Coloradoans in this survey were more likely than those in the first two surveys to know wildlife management is funded by license fees, while fewer now say they don’t know how it is funded—suggesting that the campaign’s core message is resonating. Sixty-four percent of non-hunters and -anglers in the latest survey said wildlife management is funded by license fees, compared with 54 percent and 51 percent in earlier surveys. Those who have seen the ads are more likely to know wildlife management is funded by license fees than those who have not.
When people surveyed were asked what the Hug a Hunter ads were about, responses included:
“Colorado fishing and hunting licenses help support our parks, etc.”
“How it’s beneficial to the state in terms of recreation and conservation.”
“Keeping lands open.”
The idea behind Hug a Hunter and Hug an Angler is to help the general public understand that funds from hunting and fishing licenses help conserve forests and support wildlife habitats. Hunting and fishing license fees and excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear have funded conservation for everyone—hikers, birdwatchers and mountain bikers, not just hunters and anglers—to enjoy. You can watch—and share--these ads at www.hugahunter.com.
Colorado is one of only two states (along with Michigan) to have established a Wildlife Council with a long-term funding mechanism via a license surcharge that is solely dedicated to funding and producing an ongoing pro-hunting and pro-fishing mass media campaign geared to the general public. Its efforts are helping to move the needle when it comes to perceptions of hunting and fishing among non-hunters. And those perceptions, whether we like it or not, will play an ever-more-critical role in keeping our hunting and angling heritage alive.
Call to Action: Help bring pro-hunting public relations campaigns to the other 48 states—and keep our hunting and fishing future strong. Visit the Nimrod Society online to learn more.
About the Author: Diana Rupp is an avid hunter and fly fisher, an accomplished writer and the editor-in-chief of Sports Afield magazine. She recently moved to Colorado and has seen firsthand the effectiveness of the state’s Hug a Hunter and Hug an Angler campaigns. She is the author of two books: “Celebrating 130 Years of Sports Afield” and “Ask the Namibian Guides,” designed to provide American hunters with an excellent overview of what to expect and how best to prepare for a hunting safari in Namibia.