Flagstaff-based Tom Britt, who retired from the Arizona Game and Fish Department as regional supervisor, now represents an organization called Hunting Works for Arizona. He says the nonpartisan group wants to put faces to the dollar signs shooters and hunters contribute to local economies.
“There are so many people that derive a significant amount of their annual gross from hunting and shooting and most of them are small businesses; they’re mom and pops.” Britt says if it weren’t for these sports, many small businesses would see a decline in gross revenues. “Would it put them out of business? In some cases, it would.”
The statistics circulated by Hunting Works for Arizona are pretty impressive. Over 148,000 hunters spend more than $200 million a year, supporting nearly 4,300 jobs. This data is generated from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. It shows job salaries and wages provide the state with more than $15.3 million in tax revenue, creating a $400 million ripple effect.
Figures from the Arizona Game and Fish Department may be even more impressive. They combine hunting and angling for an estimated $1.1 billion a year spent on equipment and trip expenses.
Hunting is not completely recession-proof, but the depressed economy can bring more people into the woods. Tom Remington is a researcher and editor of U.S. Hunting Today. He cites statistics showing people are more likely to hunt during times of recession, in part because they want to put healthy meat on the table while saving on grocery bills. During a robust economy, would-be hunters might be busy working and have less time available for the sport. “Unfortunately, if things get too bad, then the financial ability to buy licenses and tags might become cost prohibitive,” Remington said.
Hunting and its contributions to the economy vary widely by state, depending on populations of game and factors that vary by region.
Chris Williams knows about these things firsthand. For the past three decades, the owner of Trapper’s Den in Show Low has witnessed the economic benefits of hunting. “The people who do draw the permits, they’re spread all over the state, but those people have to come here to participate in the hunt. And when they do, everybody from the Walmart to the little shops somehow benefit from all that, ” said Williams.
While the past few years have been tough for most businesses in the state, including those related to hunting, people have continued to come to Northern Arizona after getting game permits in the competitive lottery process. Williams works with hunters from many units including those who are drawn for the White Mountain Apache Reservation. He says it is common for hunters to spend as much as $20,000 a week.
And Williams’s taxidermy business adds a lot to his local economy, from providing salaries to buying marketing materials at the printer to purchasing lumber to build crates for shipping.
Lynn Summers who works at Quality Inn in Williams, says she is not a big fan of hunting herself, but is aware of the economic benefits. “During hunting season, restaurants and hotels do see increases in business because of hunters,” said Summers.
The general manager at Flagstaff’s IHOP, Ethan Whitehead, says it is easy to spot hunters when they come into the restaurant for a meal. “They most definitely contribute to the local economy and we appreciate their business,” he said.
And it is those sentiments Tom Britt would like more people to hear.
“I think it’s important to put faces to it because there are political activists who want to limit hunting or completely do away with it.” Although his group is nonpolitical, Britt says they would want to educate voters about potential changes to hunting. “Before someone goes to the polls, they might say, ‘my neighbor Paul Carter of Carter Oil is going to see a loss in revenue, if this passes.’ It personalizes it at the community level which allows people to make more rational decisions,” said Britt. He believes perceptions would change if more people knew how businesses were positively affected by hunting. FBN