According to The Statistics Portal, there were 15.53 million U.S. hunters in 2015. Annually, there are approximately 10.7 million big game hunters, compared to the 2.3 million migratory bird hunters and 1.1 million small game hunters. Different hunters must follow different rules and regulations and pay specific licensing fees depending on the type of game they plan to hunt. Additionally, hunting regulations often vary depending on the state. To help hunters determine which type of game to hunt, the experts at Hunting-License.orghave put together a guide to choosing between big and small game hunting.
What is classified as small game hunting?
When determining whether to hunt small game or big game, the team at Hunting-License.org recommends becoming familiar with the type of game that falls under each category. For instance, small game includes smaller animals such as pheasants, geese, raccoons, coyote, ducks and rabbits. In general, small game includes any permitted animal weighing less than 40 pounds. However, size and weight limits often vary by state.
The weapons used to hunt small game also differ from those used to hunt big game. According to the group at Hunting-License.org, many hunters use a 12- to 20-gauge shotgun, a .22 long rifle or a .22 pistol to hunt small game. When deciding whether to hunt small or big game, the types of weapons you must use are important factors to consider. Additionally, small game hunting licenses tend to be cheaper than big game licenses.
What is classified as big game hunting?
Just as small game includes small animals, big game includes larger animals such as deer, wild boar, bear, elk, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, musk ox, pronghorn and mountain goat. However, certain states may classify other animals as big game. For instance, according to the team of experts at Hunting-License.org, Arizona classifies Arizona turkeys, Coues deer, buffalo, pronghorn antelope, mountain lion and black bear as big game. Meanwhile, other states classify alligators and wolves as big game.
Additionally, weapons used to hunt small game are not suitable for hunting large game. According to the group at Hunting-License.org, many hunters use a .270 rifle to hunt large game such as deer, mule deer and antelope. Meanwhile, many hunters use a .308 or 7mm rifle to hunt black bear and elk. Additionally, big game hunting licenses are often more expensive than small game hunting licenses.
How to Choose Between Small Game and Big Game
When deciding between hunting small game and big game, hunters should first determine whether they are hunting for sport or for food, and whether small or large game hunting best fits their lifestyle. Large game provides hunters with a greater amount of meat, while small game does not. For instance, the average deer weighing between 150 and 250 pounds provides hunters with around 50 pounds of processed meat.
Additionally, the location in which the hunter lives may help him or her determine which type of game he or she should hunt. Small game is best when hunting in the Midwestern or Southeastern parts of the U.S., while big game hunting is better in the Southwestern part of the country.