Hunting in Germany is increasingly popular. The numbers have been increasing for years. The German Hunting Association (DJV) is now presenting new results. According to this, more than 23,000 people took the hunter's test last year (23,713); in addition to written tests, shooting tests and practical exercises in oral exams are also held. 75 percent of the participants passed and are now allowed to go hunting. The figures have not yet been published and are available to WELT.
The hunter's test is traditionally demanding and complex. The failure rate of 25 percent seems high, but is well below the failure rate for driver's license tests (around 37 percent).
The numbers are remarkable because they are significantly higher than in previous years - and not just because the pandemic is no longer affecting hunting. In the years 2019 to 2021, the number of women and men who wanted to become hunters was just under 19,000; in 2017 there were 17,000. Ten years ago, registrations were not even half of the current numbers
More and more women signed up. In 2011, 20 percent of the examinees were women, ten years later it was already 28 percent. For women, the average age of beginners is falling and is now 33 years, for men 35 years. Overall, however, the change is minor: the proportion of women in the hunt remains modest at eleven percent.
Of course, due to the pandemic, there is a certain overhang in the hunting tests. In 2020 and 2021 in particular, a number of dates were postponed or cancelled. But at the same time it makes sense that the desire for activity in nature has increased in the years with corona-related restrictions. This may also have boosted the number of registrations for the hunter's examination. The increasing desire to hunt can therefore be counted among the changes caused by the pandemic.
The distribution of new hunters in Germany varies greatly. Most of the increases are in Lower Saxony, at almost 6,000, which has always been home to many hunters, followed by Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg (see graphic). In East Germany, the increase is low, 485 newcomers in Saxony-Anhalt, 659 in Thuringia.
In Berlin, with a population of 3.85 million, only 33 people took the hunter's test. One reason could be that the test in Brandenburg is more attractive (980 candidates) - but even in the much smaller Saarland more people decided to hunt (1155).
Hunting in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (2017) has the strongest influx in eastern Germany. This is partly due to the fact that strong private hunting schools there attract many aspirants; For example, Minister of Finance and FDP leader Christian Lindner, who passed the exam in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2018.
The trend is similar in the Ecological Hunting Association, which is at odds with a number of traditional views on hunting and propagates the ecological importance of the forest as more important than the development of the game, but at a much lower level. The strongest state associations are Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, in Brandenburg-Berlin the number of members has almost doubled within the last five years. New members are usually relatively young.
A survey of young hunters in winter 2021 shows that hunting is becoming more attractive on a broad basis. The proportion of young hunters who had no hunting experience before training is increasing significantly. The number has risen from 15 to 26 percent since 2011. When asked why, the "experience of nature" has been the most important motive for years. This is followed by "applied nature conservation", which includes the "keeping" often referred to by hunters, i.e. the regulation of wild populations in the forest.
However, the "venison" is becoming more important as a drive. So far, the killing of animals for meat ranked fourth among the motives, now it is third. The traditional trophy hunt, which is clearly more dominated by men, with subsequent immortalization of the antlers on wood-panelled walls, is slowly decreasing.
Further strong growth is not foreseeable for the future. "It will level off at a high level," says Torsten Reinwald from the DJV.
Within Europe, Germany, with its 407,000 hunters, ranks in the middle. In other countries there are significantly more hunters; most in France with more than 1.3 million, also in Spain (850,000) and Italy (533,000). By far the highest density of hunters can be found in Norway. There, one in eleven residents goes out into nature with a rifle or shotgun, a total of 500,000 out of a population of 5.3 million. For comparison: in Germany the ratio is 1:260.