In the distant past, hunters could be blamed for discouraging new hunters or at least failing to encourage participation, reasoning that more people in the field meant more competition and less personal opportunity. The same can be said for tradesmen who did little for years to encourage newcomers to the trades, fearing that more workers would infringe on their job security.
But both groups came to realize that their lack of recruitment was slowly causing more harm than good. A long period of enlightenment has brought about a firm commitment to grow their respective families and the results are telling.
We’re not talking about bricklayers and pipe fitters today, but we are discussing the growing number of outdoor enthusiasts, mainly hunters, and the benefits that come from bigger numbers.
Wildlife wins. Opportunity wins. Wildlife management wins.
For the first time in decades, the number of U.S. residents who hunt is increasing. Give credit to apprenticeship and other recruitment programs such as Women in the Outdoors, activities that not only streamline requirements for youth, women, and other potential hunters to experience and try-out various shooting sports including hunting.
But more than that give credit to the national family of ethical and conservation-minded hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts who provide funds and muscle to these efforts. And don’t forget clubs, national organizations, and individuals who understand the need and have the political know-how to fight 24/7 for hunter rights.
Numbers just released by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation tell the tale, a good story indeed. A 2011 national survey shows that adult hunter numbers are up a full 9 percent over the last data collected in 2006.
Of course that’s a lot of political clout but it also represents a husky boost to the national economy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crunched some spending numbers which are truly impressive.
According to their reports, U. S. hunters dropped a total of $34 billion, give or take a few bucks, last year. They collectively spent over $10 billion on trip related expenses such as rooms, fuel, food, and such; $14 billion on gear such as firearms, archery, camping equipment; and nearly $10 billion on licenses, permits, etc.
Is that money significant? You bet. The money spent by hunters alone represents 1% of the total U.S. National Product. Highlights in short, include:
Hunters numbering 13.7 million spent time afield last year. Each spent an average of 21 days hunting. 1.8 million youth 15 years old and younger hunted. Big game hunting continues to attract the largest number of hunters, a whopping 11.6 million, up 8% from a 2006 count. Hunter spending is up 27% in the same period.
Oh, and those skilled trades workers? They are doing a much better job of recruiting new workers, too.