Hunting, while no longer a practical necessity, remains a popular pastime in the United States — and one that has drawn rising public interest in recent years. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there were over 15.9 million licensed hunters in the U.S. in 2021, nearly 800,000 more than there were in 2018.
While hunting is a way of life for many Americans in all 50 states, in some parts of the country, it is far more popular than others.
In Washington, 185,147 paid hunting licenses were issued in 2021. Adjusting for population, this comes out to 2.4 for every 100 people, the 11th fewest among states.
Explanations for hunting's popularity in certain parts of the country vary. Hunting culture, simplicity of hunting laws, the size of available game, or the variety and abundance of animal species can all play a role. Many of the states with the most hunters per capita have access to public land open to sports men and women. According to the Protected Areas Database program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 38.3% of land area in Washington is publicly protected, the 12th highest share among states.
All data on the number of licensed hunters is from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Population data used to adjust hunting license apportionments per capita came from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2021 American Community Survey.