As our state legislators struggle to overcome a long term budget deficit they need to look for sources of additional revenue; more taxes in laymen terms. It’s the easiest course of action. What they should be doing is repealing laws and bureaucracy that inhibit economic growth. Let’s look at some numbers. The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA) published a report in 2002 on the economic impact of hunting. From that we learn that hunters spent more on food for hunting trips in 2001 than all of America spent on Domino’s pizza, and we spent over $600 million annually on our dogs, more than the $500 million skiers spend on ski equipment. In 2001, North Carolina had nearly 300,000 resident hunters. These folks spent over 7.5 million days hunting, generating over $22 million in sales and fuel tax. Jobs related to hunting put $10 million in income tax in the state purse.
Let’s do some math. If we divide those hunter trips into the amount of fuel/sales tax it comes out to about $3 in tax generated per trip. Now, if we added a conservative six days of Sunday hunting for those hunters at $3 per day we add about $5.4 million dollars to the state revenue stream. That’s just sales and fuel tax! What about additional jobs that might be added, and hunters from other states coming here to enjoy the bountiful hunting opportunities?
South Carolina has fewer resident hunters but twice the number of non-resident hunters as NC. Wonder why that is? You may already know the answer because you belong to deer hunting clubs in South Carolina. Deer populations in the mountains are not that great so you have to travel to deer hunt. If you’ve got to drive two to three hours to get to camp, why only hunt one day, Saturday? Folks, that’s NC money going to SC.
As we said when we were kids, “That’s not fair.” And it’s not. It is the only recreational activity in the state that I cannot participate in on Sunday. I can skip church to go to a Panthers game. And in the home of NASCAR you can spend a Sunday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway at a race. Take the family to the lake for the day. Heck, they even repealed the Blue Law against liquor sales so I can now buy a twelve pack of beer after noon and get drunk on Sunday (which I would never do). But you can’t go hunting.
I’m a Christian. I go to church on Sunday, led our Men’s Group for several years, have held leadership positions in the church, and lead a men’s Bible study. With rare exception, I won’t, and I doubt many hunters will, skip church to go hunting. But what’s to say I can’t load up the dogs and spend the afternoon in God’s bounty chasing grouse? I can go to church in the morning and load up my rod to go trout fishing that afternoon. Isn’t it the same?
Several years ago the WRC commissioned a study in NC to get people’s thoughts on legalizing Sunday hunting. Unfortunately, the majority of people surveyed opposed Sunday hunting. But when you get into the details of the survey, a largely uninformed populace expressed that opinion. A large percentage of those participating did not even know it was illegal to hunt on Sunday in NC. Let’s do the fair and economically smart thing. There is a chance here for our legislators to show some backbone, do the right thing, and increase state revenue. Repeal the law against Sunday hunting.