DOW launches ad campaign to attract more elk hunters
Facing a glut of elk and a declining number of hunters, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is challenging hunters nationwide to tackle elk hunting this fall.
The division is in the midst of a $300,000 advertising campaign aimed at hunters age 35–60 across the nation in an effort to boost elk license sales and support the rural communities that depend on hunting.
The campaign, titled “Elevate Your Game,” will run through April 5, the application deadline for limited-draw hunting licenses.
With memories of Super Bowl XLV still fresh, the campaign uses football terminology and themes to raise awareness of Colorado elk hunting opportunities.
Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington said the goal is to increase elk license applications for limited licenses as well as leftover and over-the-counter licenses later in the year.
“The Division of Wildlife’s ability to manage big game for Coloradans and visitors depends on hunters,” Remington said. “Hunting supports tens of thousands of jobs in dozens of communities across this state. Investing in new ways to encourage hunters to hunt in Colorado is just a smart thing to do.”
Hunting, angling and wildlife-based recreation each year generate $1.8 billion in economic impact and support 20,614 jobs statewide, according to the Division of Wildlife.
It’s estimated as much as 80–85 percent of the DOW’s roughly $100 million budget comes from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
In 2009, the division sold 208,529 elk licenses, 15,000 fewer than 2008 and the sixth year in a row in which those numbers declined.
That also was the lowest total since 2001 and only the second time since 1992 that elk license sales dipped below 210,000.
The reasons for the decline are well-documented, including fewer licenses as elk populations reach desired levels.
Other factors include a soft economy that deters nonresident hunters from spending up to $550 for a Colorado elk license.
There’s also the matter of the aging of the nation’s hunting population, which decreases by an estimated 2–3 percent each year.
If, as the division suspects, it can attract new hunters or convince experienced hunters to stay in the game, the result should be an uptick in license sales.
The campaign features a 30-second television spot running for eight weeks during prime time on The Sportsman’s Channel and The Outdoor Channel, two wildlife recreation-oriented national cable channels.
“It’s a lot of money,” admitted Remington during an interview on Colorado Public Radio. “But it’s the minimum we need to spend to reach this size of an audience.”
It’s thought that Colorado is the first state to pursue a national campaign to attract hunters.
In addition to the TV spots, the agency 5-Stone Advertising produced two 15-second web ads showing on popular hunting and fishing websites, such as FieldandStream.com, OutdoorLife.com and NorthAmericanHunter.com.
A third campaign element is a full-page print ad adorning the March issues of Outdoor Life and Game and Fish magazines, which have a combined circulation of 1.3 million.
Each of the campaign ads directs hunters to HuntColorado.org, which features a section on planning a Colorado hunt.
In addition to web-based ads, the site hosts a video that guides hunters through the license application process and a second video on planning a Colorado big-game hunt.
Other links direct hunters to the Colorado Tourism website for information on accommodations and to the Department of Regulatory Affairs to find a registered outfitter.
Tyler Baskfield, the division’s communications manager, said the agency has increased its emphasis on customer service, offering new products and services to ensure hunters get the information they need.
“We’re challenging hunters to ‘elevate their game’ with a Colorado elk hunt, so we’re raising our game in customer service to make the whole experience of hunting in Colorado as enjoyable and as easy as possible,” Baskfield said. “We have world-class hunting and we are ready to provide world-class customer service to match.”
Hunters who visit the DOW website will find an interactive version of the new, user-friendly big-game brochure and links to “Elk Hunting University,” a series of articles that give hunters skills training and planning tips for their elk hunt.
“I’m very excited about the direction the DOW is taking with this approach of actively marketing and soliciting hunters to come to Colorado,” said Al White, director of Colorado Tourism and a former state senator from Hayden. “I think the return on this marketing investment for the state will be phenomenal.”
“Hunting is a critical element to the Northwest Colorado economy and until now, our success has been based on word of mouth and trade shows,” added Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christina Oxley.
“This is a bold move that will benefit the entire state. Kudos to the DOW for being a true community partner and taking this proactive step,” she said.