The most popular feature of Pennsylvania’s GoHunt initiative is under development.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s GoHuntPA initiative is going away, but it’s most popular piece is not.
It is being rebuilt of necessity, however.
GoHunt is a marketing initiative that was meant not to recruit new hunters, but to retain active ones and reactivate lapsed ones. The commission did billboards and radio and TV ads encouraging people to get back into the woods to carry on family traditions, get wholesome food and enjoy nature.
The numbers show it didn’t work.
Steve Smith, chief of the commission’s information and education bureau, said the program launched in 2014. But license sales actually declined that year compared to 2013, and went down again this past year, he said.
Discussions with people in focus groups, meanwhile, revealed that while the advertising made some lapsed hunters miss hunting, it did not motivate them to actually get back into the sport, he said.
The marketing attempt didn’t cost the agency any money, though, Smith added. It was paid for entirely with federal funding, to the tune of $500,000 per year for two years.
The commission could have accessed that federal money again this year, but won’t spend any on billboards or ads, Smith said. It will maintain the GoHuntPa.org website, though, and the GoHunt app.
That latter feature was, by far, the most popular thing to come out of the campaign, Smith said.
In fact, one particular facet of it was too popular in some eyes.
The app offered a number of features, from an SOS system allowing hunters to designate certain emergency contacts to weather forecasts, a roundup of rules and regulations and a way to post photos.
Smith said the most popular feature was the game lands locator, which told a hunter where the closest state game land was located. Google bought out the owner of that program and shut it down, though, apparently because it thought it competed with some of its own offerings, Smith said.
The commission is working with a new developer to create something similar, which may show not only the locations of game lands, but also state forests and even some private lands enrolled in farm-game and forest-game cooperator programs.
The hope is that will be ready by fall, Smith said.