The impact of hunter postseason questionnaire design on big game harvest estimation

John R. Skalski, Joshua J. Millspaugh, Kristen E. Ryding

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Estimating game harvest is among the most important activities of wildlife management agencies. For many state agencies, postseason hunter surveys are the basis for obtaining estimates of harvest. However, the questionnaire design and the questions asked can have a great effect on the accuracy of the harvest estimates. The purpose of this paper is to present alternative models for analyzing postseason hunter questionnaire data. Our model extends the White (1993) approach by incorporating local information from both successful and unsuccessful hunters in cases where that information is available from postseason surveys. Our approach relaxes 2 assumptions: 1) the probability that a hunter reports the area hunted is the same across areas and 2) all hunters have the same probability of success regardless of area hunted. Unless assumptions regarding common harvest rates across areas can be validated a priori, questionnaires should be designed to provide that geographic information. This information should be obtained from both successful and unsuccessful hunters. Previously, managers were primarily concerned whether nonrespondents had the same harvest success as survey respondents. We argue that this concern should be extended to include consideration of differences in reporting rates by geographic area as well. Agency goals, data requirements, and possible differences in harvest rates by region must, therefore, guide the design of hunter harvest questionnaires.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-337
Number of pages9
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Big game
  • Geographic region
  • Harvest
  • Harvest estimation
  • Hunter survey
  • Questionnaire


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