I am an outdoors guy who loves to fish and hunt. Sometimes I wonder how many others are like me. When a new report came out on the subject I was quick to jump in and start reading. It turns out that my fellow fishing and hunting enthusiasts and I are a major force. In fact, the name of the report is “Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy — A force as big as all outdoors.”
The factual report (available on the Web at www.sportsmenslink.org and www.nssf.org) was produced by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation with support from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and SCI-First For Hunters. The report uses the results from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation and statistics provided by the American Sportfishing Association and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
I recommend taking a look at the impact of fishers and hunters, both statewide and nationwide. Here are some interesting facts to prime your mental pump: California has 1.7 million hunters and anglers who are among the most prominent and influential of all demographic groups, spending more than $3.6 billion a year on hunting and fishing. Those are big numbers. But it gets better.
In California, spending by hunters and anglers directly supports 53,500 jobs, which puts $2 billion worth of paychecks into pockets of working residents around the state. Of course, government coffers also benefit: Spending by sportsmen in pursuit of these outdoor activities generates $452 million in state and local taxes as well as $473 million in federal taxes. The ripple effect through the economy is pegged at $6.3 billion statewide.
These figures demonstrate that season after season hunters and anglers are driving the economy from big businesses to rural towns, through booms and recessions. Consider where the benefits are distributed. Because most fishing and hunting occurs in rural or remote areas, much of the spending is economic lifeblood to small outlying communities where quality of living is great but jobs are scarce.
The national numbers are equally impressive on a higher scale. Nationally, 34 million sportsmen age 16 and older spent more than $76 billion in 2006, supporting 1.6 million jobs. While impressive, these statistics underestimate the impact of sportsmen since they do not take into account the millions of hunters and anglers under 16 years of age or people who were not able to get out and hunt or fish in 2006.
Another important piece of information is that much of the license fees paid by anglers and hunters go to much-needed conservation work. Fishers and hunters are the serious conservationists who traditionally put in their money and put in their volunteer time for conservation work. So if you have just enough time for one last quick Christmas shopping trip, go buy a fishing license and a hunting license for an outdoors person in your life.
Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.