Research: online hunting forums identify achievement as prominent among multiple satisfactions

The dominant satisfaction expressed in online hunting stories is achievement.

Researchers from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the University of Victoria have shed new light on what satisfies hunters. Reporting in the peer-reviewed journal Wildlife Society Bulletin, they found that although appreciation (of nature, etc.) and affiliation (i.e., bonding experiences with friends/family) are important factors commonly discussed, the dominant satisfaction expressed in online hunting stories is achievement.

Researchers found that this pattern is especially strong when carnivores (i.e., wolves, cougars, grizzly bears) are targeted. 86% percent of carnivore hunting stories (compared with 81% of ungulate hunting stories) emphasized achievement as a dominant theme. When carnivores were targeted, appreciation satisfaction was the focus in only 3% of stories.

While adding new knowledge to the understanding of hunters, this study can also inform societal debate. “By understanding a hunter’s satisfactions and motivations, we can ask bigger questions about our relationships with wildlife,” notes Darimont. “Is a hunter’s feeling of achievement more important than, say, the life of a grizzly bear?”

For more detail, read the open access peer-reviewed, research article, “Online Hunting Forums Identify Achievement as Prominent Among Multiple Satisfactions.”


Understanding hunter satisfactions can lead to improved wildlife management policy and practice. Whereas previous work has suggested that hunters often seek multiple satisfactions (achievement, affiliation, appreciation), little is known about how satisfactions might vary with target species. Additionally, past research has mostly gathered data using interviews and surveys, which might limit scope as well as introduce strategic bias for potentially provocative subjects such as hunting. To address these gaps, we analyzed data from online hunting forums, which provide an open-access source of peer-to-peer discussion that is geographically and taxonomically broad. We used directed qualitative content analysis to analyze hunting narratives for satisfactions by coding 2,864 phrases across 455 hunting “stories,” and compared patterns of dominant (most frequent) and multiple satisfactions between target species type (ungulates and carnivores) using forums from 3 regions: British Columbia, Canada; Texas, USA; and North America-wide. We found that achievement was the dominant satisfaction in 81% of ungulate and 86% of carnivore stories. Appreciation was nearly absent as a dominant satisfaction in carnivore stories. We found that 62% of ungulate and 53% of carnivore stories had multiple satisfactions present, indicating that appreciation and affiliation play important secondary satisfaction roles even when achievement is dominant. If these data are broadly representative of hunters on a larger scale, management policy instruments that ignore achievement may not evoke change in hunter behavior, particularly involving carnivore target species. Despite limitations associated with online forums (e.g., nonrepresentative of all hunters), they provide a new and valuable resource for wildlife management research.


Alena M. Ebeling-Schuld
Chris T. Darimont


Ebeling-Schuld, A. M. and Darimont, C. T. (2017), Online hunting forums identify achievement as prominent among multiple satisfactions. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.796


AME-S was supported by a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award and CTD by NSERC Discovery Grant 435683 and support from Raincoast Conservation Foundation; Hakai Institute; and the Tula, Wilburforce, and Willow Grove Foundations. We thank K. R. Child, D. Duffus, M. S. Adams, A. L. Fleerackers, and A. R. Schuld for comments and feedback on earlier drafts, as well as B. Graham and J. Francoeur for contributions to inter-coder and precision testing. We thank Associate Editor M. Nils Peterson and peer reviewers for their valuable contributions to our manuscript.

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