On Nov. 11, sleepy little towns in western Kansas transformed into centers with crowded motel parking lots, busy streets and packed cafes. If you were up before dawn on Nov. 12, you saw men and women dressed in khaki and orange looking happy, despite the hour, while feeding and watering hunting dogs or grabbing breakfast at the local “Hunters’ Pancake Feed.” Everyone was upbeat because it was opening day.
This year’s positive bird forecast had hunters raring to go. But there were others who anticipated the day almost as much: the business owners in those small rural communities. Hunters are good for the Kansas economy.
On the second Saturday in November, 40,000 to 50,000 hunters were in the field pursuing pheasants and quail in Kansas. Many hunters traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get there and those hunters spent a minimum of $150 per day on lodging, food and fuel. Most stayed three or four days, and when bird populations are good, the second weekend is just as busy. When all the revenue generated by hunters in Kansas during the year is added up, it will top $400,000,000.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, hunting is responsible for nearly 8,000 jobs in Kansas, generating $2.9 million in salaries and wages and $60 million in state and local taxes. Through the purchase of annual hunting licenses and permits, hunters generate more than $20 million and qualify Kansas to receive nearly $10 million in federal aid that is derived from excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s wildlife programs receive no general tax funding, so hunters pay for all wildlife conservation and law enforcement efforts.
For bird hunters, a good opening weekend means heavy game bags and the camaraderie of friends and family. For Kansas business owners, a good opening weekend means extra sales and a better bottom line.