The numbers don’t lie.
More than 1.8 million people went hunting, fishing or both in Pennsylvania last year. According to a recently-released survey by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, those hunters and anglers spent almost $1.5 billion while they hit the woods, fields and water.
But there’s more.
Two other recent surveys shed more light on just how strong hunting and fishing are in Pennsylvania. A report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation ranks Pennsylvania fourth in the nation when it comes to resident hunters with 698,988, trailing only Texas (1,079,869), Wisconsin (763,384) and New York (739,260).
And what drives hunting in Pennsylvania?
Combined with the number of nonresident hunters, Pennsylvania’s number swells to 774,930. Of that, more than 713,000 hunted deer and they spent more than $606 million pursuing the state’s mammal. That’s an average of $850 per deer hunter.
I can’t say that I spend that much to hunt deer each year,but keep in mind the report considered a wide array of expenditures, including firearm and ammunition purchases, taxidermy costs, vehicles and land.
Nationwide, hunters spent most of their money buying land - $3.7 billion, followed by transportation costs such as fuel ($2.3 billion) and vehicle purchases ($1.8 billion). More than $534 million was spent on ammunition across the country in 2011.
But let’s get back tot he Keystone state.
All forms of hunting combined in Pennsylvania generated over $985 million in retail sales, sustained 15,211 jobs and pumped out $258 million in local, state and federal taxes.
That’s big business.
The state’s anglers were no slouches either.
According to yet another recently-released survey, this one from the American Sportfishing Association, there were more than 1.1 million anglers in Pennsylvania in 2011 (10th in the country), including 210,020 non-residents. They generated almost $502 million in retail sales, or $383 per angler.
I thought anglers would spend just as much as hunters in Pennsylvania, considering the cost of a new bass boat. But then again, while hunters are buying land to hunt on, anglers aren’t necessarily going out and buying lakes.
Overall, Pennsylvania ranks 10th in the nation in hunting and fishing participation and 23rd in the amount of money spent.
Tenth seems a bit low, but states that border the ocean generate a huge amount of participation from saltwater anglers, giving them an advantage in that category. That’s why Florida had the most anglers at just over three million, followed by Texas (2.2 million). New York placed third with 1.8 million, thanks to its multitude of large lakes.
Nationwide, participation in hunting grew nine percent to 13.6 million, while the number of anglers rose 11 percent since 2006 to just over 33 million.
They are staggering numbers and it clearly shows that a significant number of people both in Pennsylvania and the country are hunting and fishing.
Yet, I find it ironic that a big reason why many of us hunt and fish is to seek a bit of solitude and get away from people.
Personally, I like it when I’m the only one in the woods or on the water.
At the same time, it’s good to see that more people share the same passion that I do for hunting and fishing. It’s a strength in numbers mindset that bodes well for the future.