It won't be long till turkey hunting season, and that means more than quality time spent in the outdoors. It also means major economic benefits.

While a few years old, a project conducted by Southwick Associates for the National Wild Turkey Federation, titled "The 2003 Economic Contribitions of Spring Turkey Hunting" highlights just how beneficial this sport, which has grown in popularity each year, is to the U.S. economy.

The research for the project was conducted by Responsive Management, Inc. of Harrisonburg, Va., to quantify the economic benefits of spring turkey hunting to national, regional, and selected state economies in 2003. The spring turkey hunter expenditures were collected during a national telephone survey of hunters, and included information on these hunters’ demographics, attitudes, and behavior.

The study found that nationally, nearly 2.3 million spring turkey hunters were estimated to have spent $1.8 billion for the 2003 season, stimulating a total of $4.4 billion in economic activity across the U.S, including 41,323 jobs, $88.9 million in state tax sales and income tax revenues and $198.6 million in federal income tax receipts.

Researchers found hunters in the U.S. averaged spending $207 for travel-related goods and services, and those in the South spent the most, averaging $302 per hunter annually for expenses such as private transportation, food and beverages, etc.. Spring turkey hunters in the Northeast spent the least, $137 on average, for travel-related expenses.

"Hunters’ purchases also stimulated additional spending in the economy. Retailers purchase more inventory, manufacturers buy input to produce more product, and all pay their employees, who then spend their income in many different places. These rounds of spending are a major boost to local and national economies," reads the report. "Likewise, the reverse is true. If a particular item or industry is removed from the economy, the economic loss is greater than the original lost retail sale. Thus, if hunters were to no longer spend any dollars on spring turkey hunting, the U.S. economy could contract by $4.359 billion. Vehicles and special clothing purchases provide the greatest economic impact for every dollar spent by spring turkey hunters, providing approximately $3.26 and $3, respectively, in economic activity for every dollar spent. On average, each dollar spent by spring turkey hunters generates about $2.40 in economic activity. "

When these hunters went afield in 2001, according to the report, they supported 41,323 full and part-time jobs in the U.S.

"Hunter expenditures generate sales tax revenues for states. In addition, the jobs generated by Spring turkey hunting activities create income tax revenues. Total state tax revenues generated by spring turkey hunters are estimated at $88.9 million," reads the report.

Imagine, a wildlife resource that was near extinction at the turn of the century has been restored, thanks to hunters' dollars that fund wildlife management, and in addition this resource benefits the economy. All the more reason to dust off the turkey calls, camo and greet the upcoming spring in the turkey woods.

Janet Parker (formerly Janet Tharp) graduated from Muskogee High School in 1989 and lives in Texas now where she also is on the women's professional bass tour. Visit her website at www.janetparkerfishing.com.



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