Deer hunting season means big bucks for the economy

Photo: Daniel Mears , The Detroit News Photo: Daniel Mears , The Detroit News
from Joe St. Henry; Special to The Detroit News
Michigan’s deer hunters are not the only ones chasing elusive bucks during the state’s most popular hunting season, which opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 30.
The Department of Natural Resources, outdoor retailers and other businesses that cater to hunters are counting on them to spend a lot of money this month.
According to the DNR, the state attracts more than 750,000 hunters each year, who contribute more than $2.3 billion to Michigan’s economy.
Through Nov. 6, more than 950,000 deer tags had been sold for the 2014 season, generating more than $15.1 million for the state. This figure is down 6.9 percent from last year, but DNR officials attribute this to the reduced number of antlerless deer licenses available. With the average hunter also spending $885 on equipment and travel each year, the DNR says expenditures by firearms deer hunters could contribute another $513 million to the state’s economy.
“About 90 percent of Michigan’s hunters hunt deer, and firearms season is the biggest,” said DNR spokesman Ed Golder. “This is our Super Bowl.”
Cooler weather in recent weeks has sparked retail sales of guns, ammunition, winter clothing, deer blinds and tree stands, processing equipment and other hunting necessities.
Outdoor outfitter Cabela’s operates three stores in Michigan, including a 220,000 square-foot superstore in Dundee. It has seen a steady increase in customers preparing for the upcoming firearms deer season.
Retail Sales Manager Chad Andrus says most hunters wait until a week or two before the opening of firearms season and then realize they need to update their gear. So far this fall, he said, sales have been a little higher than last year. The Dundee store draws customers from around southern Michigan.
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