Last week was SHOT (Shooting & Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas. This is the BIG industry event of the year drawing all of the outdoor industry manufacturers, sellers, and press. The annual show is sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). I don’t know if it is coincidental that President Obama chose this week to make his big announcement on his plans for addressing gun violence. But while many industries in America remain anemic, the firearms and hunting industry remain strong and are an economic force to be reckoned with.
At this show, the NSSF presented their annual report of the economic impact of hunting. The NSSF and The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) released two new reports documenting the importance of sportsmen’s activities in America. NSSF’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation and CSF’s America’s Sporting Heritage, Fueling the American Economy reports provide detailed information about participation and expenditures by American sportsmen and women. The reports were released to the country’s top outdoor writers and industry professionals during the show in Las Vegas.
The reports utilize information provided in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service five-year study released late last year–data that is available only every five years. Some key facts: Hunter spending has a total economic impact of $90 billion on the U.S. economy; Hunter numbers increased by 9 percent between 2006 and 2011; Spending on hunting-related products grew by 30 percent during that same time frame; Money that sportsmen and women spend helps support more than 680,000 jobs. In some rural communities, the dollars brought in during hunting seasons alone can be enough to keep small businesses going from year to year; Sportsmen contribute nearly $8 million a day that goes to support wildlife agencies and conservation. You can see the report at www.nssf.org.
As long as we are talking about the NSSF, when your non-gun owning friends denigrate the firearms industry as only wanting to make a buck off gun sales and not care about safety here is something to remind them of. Each year, the SHOT Show is the primary funding source for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry’s trade association. Among the many programs the show helps to fund is Project ChildSafe, the nation’s largest firearm safety program. Managed by NSSF, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 35 million firearm safety kits free of charge to gun owners in all 50 states and in the five U.S. territories.
The program operates in cooperation with local law enforcement departments that provide the firearm safety kits to gun owners in their communities. The success of the program can be attributed to law enforcement, elected officials, community leaders, state agencies, businesses and individuals who have worked to help raise awareness about the importance of securely storing firearms in the home. In 2013, NSSF is planning to expand Project ChildSafe to further emphasize the necessity of proper storage of firearms in homes where young or at-risk persons reside.
Now let’s turn to things more local like the current game seasons still open, most of them being small game and migratory birds. Pretty much all small game is open for hunting through February 28 to include: Raccoon and opossum, gray squirrel, rabbit, quail, grouse, and bobcat. Dove season ended January 13, but woodcock is still open until January 26th with a daily bag limit of three birds. Duck season is also open through January 26th with a mixed daily bag limit of six birds. But check the regulations for what that mixture is. You can only have three wood ducks or no more than four mallards in that bag.
Canada goose season will be open until February 9th with a daily bag limit of five geese. I still see geese flying in the early mornings along the French Broad River. So the weather hasn’t been cold enough to push them all south. I’ve also talked with a couple of hunters who say they’ve killed some ducks along the French Broad, mostly wood ducks. So there it is. That is what you still have to hunt.
The weather hasn’t cooperated with me very much for my grouse hunting. I had two days off during the holidays to go out and it rained both days. I hope to get in some time in the woods chasing grouse over the next couple of weeks and maybe scare up a few. Ben really needs the exercise and I need a break from all the craziness in the gun world.