I usually sell a couple of properties to hunters every year. This year I haven’t sold one, and have gotten very few inquiries from hunters — and in September and October, which is when hunters get all excited with the upcoming opening of the main hunting season in November, almost none. There has been quite a bit of interest in recreational property with enough acreage for ATVing and snowmobiling, but almost to a person these buyers have not been hunters.
Hunting has been declining in popularity for more than a decade, but not precipitously.In 2008/09 there were 554,918 hunting licenses issued in New York state. In 2012/13 (the last year data is available) that number had dropped to 533.624. In 2013, New York passed the SAFE Act, one of the toughest gun control measures in the country. The SAFE Act has been a lightening rod for gun advocates and the NRA, and may have pushed some NY hunters to look for hunting property in Pennsylvania which has looser gun laws. If that was true, though, I’d expect to see a surge in non-resident hunting licenses issued in Pennsylvania. But in 2012 (before the SAFE Act), Pennsylvania issued 46,509 non-resident hunting licenses, and in 2014 (after the SAFE Act), they actually issued fewer non-resident licenses — 46,197. While gun advocates may grumble about the SAFE Act, there doesn’t appear to be a wholesale exodus of hunters to the Keystone State.
If hunting hasn’t declined precipitously in popularity (as measured by hunting licenses issued), and New York hunters haven’t decamped en masse to Pennsylvania because of the SAFE Act, what’s up? Prices for large acreage properties are pretty reasonable, and probably the lowest within 2 1/2 hours of NYC. While property taxes are higher here than in Delaware County to the north, or Pennsylvania, they’re not through the roof for this type of property, because of forestry exemptions and how acreage is generally assessed.
So I’m scratching my head about where all the hunters have gone.