After experiencing decades of decline in participation numbers, the number of hunters in the state of Oregon is finally on the rise again and in a big way.

According to recently released numbers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the number of hunting licenses sold in 2016 increased by 22 percent.  Rising from 264,000 licenses sold in 2015 to 334,405 sold in 2016, Oregon officials were pleasantly surprised by the dramatic increase, even though fees were increased in 2016 as well.

The volume of additional hunters could not have come at a better time for the department as recent declines in hunter participation have begun to unravel budgetary issues for ODFW.

“Increasing participation is very important as hunters and anglers account for a full 50 percent of our budget,” 0DFW’s recruitment and retention coordinator Chris Willard told the Statesman Journal. “Without hunters and anglers, our agency could not meet its conservation mission.”

While there is no direct indication as to what has lead to the increase in hunting license sales, officials believe the rise of what is labeled as “adult onset hunting’ could have something to do with it.  This new type of hunter is one who does not necessarily come from a family with a hunting background and will often begin later on in life as they fuel their need to become more in tuned with the food they are consuming.