Bucks Bring in Big Bucks

Given that most of you are already at or en route to deer camp, my office is pretty quiet today. I got a call from our buddy Mike Avery at Mike Avery's Outdoor Magazine, with a question about the economic impact of deer hunting. Since I was just rifling through the DNR's 2010 Deer Management Plan, (yes, they have one) I had the figure right at hand:
The nearly 700,000 hunters that hunt deer annually in Michigan spend over $700 million each year on food, lodging, transportation, equipment, and hunting licenses (Southwick 2007).
These numbers were pretty impressive, but knowing that I should verify my sources, I got a copy of the 2007 study from Southwick Associations commissioned by the Association Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Here's what the vital statistics are on Michigan's white-tailed deer season (from 2006, which is the last time we have good data on the spending side):
  • Number of Michigan deer hunters: 712,550 (#3 in the nation, behind Pennsylvania and Texas). However, this participation has been dropping about 1-2% per year since.
  • Number of days spent deer hunting: 9,008,532 (#2 behind Pennsylvania)
  • Retail sales for Michigan deer hunters: $713,104,669 (#4, after Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin)
  • Resulting jobs from this spending: 11,770
  • Total harvest: 450,674 deer. However this has dropped about 8% since 2006.
So what this amounts to is some fun trivia for deer camp; the bigger question is how are we going to keep this tradition going? MUCC hopes that the 10-  and 11-year-olds out for their first firearm deer season this year will get hooked; next year, their younger brothers and sisters can also join them thanks to the upcoming Mentored Youth Hunting Program under development for 2012.
The DNR is bringing together all-star teams in each region, the Regional Deer Advisory Teams,  to discuss deer management.  What should be their focus for habitat? Regulations? Recruitment and retention? Share your thoughts below.
If you consider yourself an "Average Joe/Josephine Hunter", then we hope you remember to buy your 2.2 tags tonight, enjoy your 12.6 days out in the woods, and no matter whether you bag your 0.6 deer or not, we hope your $1000.78 spent results in priceless memories.
Happy Hunting!

My first buck: November 19, 2010

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