For many people, today is the best day of the year. Today marks the opening of the two-week deer firearm season, commonly known as "buck season." Today, many hunters will be heading out to the West Virginia woods with new equipment or trusted old equipment, hoping to bring out the deer of a lifetime.
However, what many people, including the hunters themselves, may not realize is that hunting season is an economic boom for the states.
A 2006 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services put these benefits in perspective. While this report speaks to both hunting and fishing, deer season is the biggest single event of the year for sportsmen. According to the report, a total of 364,000 resident sportsmen spend an average of $4 million a day on their hunting/fishing activities for an annual total of $1.5 billion.
Since the vast majority hunting and fishing takes place in rural areas, much of this money is spent in rural communities, where it provides a direct and immediate economic benefit. Many business owners have told us that the money earned, especially during buck season can mean the difference between a profit and loss for the entire year.
Other benefits, according to the USFWS study include:
* Resident sportsmen were responsible for adding $491 million in salaries and wages in the state through approximately 25,000 jobs catering to sportsmen. This number probably has increased in the years since 2006.
* Through the spending by sportsmen and wages of the businesses catering them resulted in $138 million in federal taxes and $172 million in state and local taxes being collected.
* Money spent by sportsmen adds a ripple effect of $2 billion into the state's economy through spending on other items.
* These numbers are multiplied when adding the nearly 75,000 out-of-state residents who come here to hunt during the season.
Hunting is a sacred family tradition for many West Virginians. Today, several hunts will include fathers and sons, fathers and daughters or other family combinations will be out in the woods at first light. We wish all hunters a safe and productive hunting season.
And we also wish for everyone - hunter and non-hunter alike - to remember hunting is an activity that greatly benefits the state's economy.