The beginning of hunting season is as much a hallmark of fall in Minnesota as football games, changing foliage, and cooler temperatures. Although nearly all Minnesotans are aware of the role hunting plays in our state’s heritage, hunting is rarely recognized as the economic driver it is.
As executive director of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce, I have witnessed the mutually beneficial relationship between hunting and business, a relationship that needs to be appreciated and carefully preserved. To this end, I am co-chair of Hunting Works for Minnesota, a partnership of small businesses, hunters, and chambers of commerce that seeks to educate hunters and non-hunters about the economics of hunting and shooting sports.
According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the nearly 500,000 people that hunt in Minnesota each year spend a combined $733 million in-state annually. Hunters sustain 12,400 Minnesota jobs and pay $94 million in state and local taxes. The average hunter spends $1,500 per year in Minnesota.
The fall influx of hunters provides a crucial boost to Minnesota restaurants, convenience stores, hotels, and sporting goods establishments. It also brings commerce to small towns that may be otherwise largely devoid of economic activity at that time of year.
In addition to stimulating the economy, hunters also contribute to conservation in two profound ways. The proceeds from the tags, stamps, and licenses they are required to carry directly fund conservation efforts. There is also an 11 percent excise tax on hunting equipment, including guns, bows, and ammunition, established by the Pittman Robertson Act. The revenue raised by this tax is used to fund habitat conservation as well as hunter education programs.
A successful hunting season can allow a small business the economic freedom to hire new employees, invest in new equipment, or expand operations. When Minnesota small businesses experience success, they provide their communities with increased job prospects and economic vitality. Hunters directly benefit Minnesota small businesses, but the final result is a $1.3 billion ripple effect in our economy that benefits every citizen.
Hunting and shooting sports provide an economic impetus that is in the interests of all Minnesotans. The relationship between hunters and Minnesota businesses needs to be fostered so Minnesotans can continue to benefit, both economically and culturally, from the Minnesota’s rich hunting tradition.
Co-chair, Hunting Works for Minnesota
Executive Director, Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce