Ecosystem services typically benefit multiple groups of people. However, natural resource management decisions aiming to secure ecosystem services for one beneficiary group rarely consider potential consequences for others. Here, we examine records of moose hunting in Vermont, USA, a recreational ecosystem service with at least two beneficiary groups: hunters, who benefit from recreational experiences and moose meat, and residents, who live in hunting areas and benefit from hunters’ expenditures. We ask how the allocation of hunting permits has affected (1) the total number of hunters and therefore the benefits enjoyed by this group, (2) the benefits residents received, and (3) the spatial distribution of benefits for each group. We found that changes in the allocation of permits had heterogeneous effects on the beneficiaries. For example, increasing the number of hunting permits increased the total number of hunters, but not necessarily the number of residents who potentially benefit. Also, a more balanced distribution of permits across Vermont increased the total number of potentially benefiting residents, but not those from lower socio-economic groups. Understanding these differences and interactions between beneficiary groups is necessary to distribute benefits equitably amongst them.