Mississippi’s contribution to the outdoors economy
by John Woods
Published: August 3,2009
A detailed report compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service titled the “National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation” offers a comprehensive look into the role of outdoors enthusiasts. In particular, the report spells out how many participate in these outdoor activities by each state, how much time they spend doing these things and more importantly how much money they spend doing it.
It is commonly understood that outdoors recreation of all kinds is a huge economic juggernaut contributing billions to the national economy. Mississippi plays quite a role in this national outdoors economy as well.
Unknown exactly what the state’s population is today until the current on-going census count is completed, but it is somewhere in the neighborhood of three million people. Nationwide there are roughly 34 million identified sportsmen. This includes about 30 million anglers and 12.5 million hunters. They contribute about $76 billion in spending. From that almost $26 billion is federal, state and local taxes.
In Mississippi, the report indicates there are some 537,000 sportsmen in the state, which ranks us at No. 27 in the nation. This is a high ranking for a state with such a relatively low overall population. Of these sportsmen, about 465,000 pursue fishing. That puts us at No. 24 on the national scale.
Interestingly, Mississippi has about 238,000 hunters statewide. In the national scheme, we are at No.19 in terms of hunters. Of course, I suppose that is no great surprise to those of us living here. Hunting is more of a way of life than it is a mere recreational hobby. For many families in the Magnolia State, hunting is at the center of their social circle.
It is known though that those social circles are growing smaller, and some are disappearing altogether as our state’s demographics change. Families are moving, college graduates are leaving the state at alarming numbers, and older citizens quit participating in hunting and fishing and thus quit buying licenses. Single-family households dominated by single mothers are not leading kids into outdoor pursuits. These trends are national, too.
Hard Earned Investments
in Time and Money
It is estimated that Mississippians spend about six million days afield every year hunting. Many also enjoy an outdoors form of activity known as wildlife watching. That could be bird watching, wildlife observation or feeding or photography. Non-consumptive wildlife watching is a large and fast growing category of participants that also are often labeled in the “green” classifications. Nationally we are No. 13 in days spent afield.
Anglers in Mississippi spend 7.1 million days on the water or No. 27 in the national ranking. Oddly enough we know there are a lot more people fishing than hunting in Mississippi simply by license sales, but our national ranking for fishing is behind that of hunting in terms of time allocated to doing it.
At No. 30 in the nation, Mississippi sportsmen spend an estimated $863 million a year engaging in their outdoor activities. The breakdown includes $300 million for fishing and a whopping $563 million for hunting. That’s #38 nationally for money spent on fishing and #15 for dollars expended for hunting. We definitely put our money where our fun is.
Outdoor Employment Opportunities
Mississippi ranks at No. 28 in the country when it comes to people involved in jobs related to hunting, and fishing. That is estimated to be about 17,000 employees across the state. The definitions are not very precise, but this would include a whole host of jobs from people working at Mossy Oak in West Point, Primos Game Calls in Flora, B&M Poles, Millennium Tree Stands in Pearl, Bad Boy Electric Carts in Natchez, boat manufacturers, fishing guides, hunting lodges and outfitters, farm co-ops selling food plot supplies, land improvement and maintenance services, and all the retail outlets supporting the industry across the state and on and on.
Of the 17,000 dedicated to jobs of these types, around 5,000 were listed as employed in fishing activities at No. 37 in the nation. Those employed in the hunting industry in Mississippi total about 12,000 ranking the Magnolia State at No. 12 in the whole country.
Reflect on that last number for a minute. Over the years in this column, we have profiled a number of small businesses that make their income from those of us that enjoy the great outdoor sports of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. In this industry, Mississippi is 12th.
I have always said that Mississippi has a disproportionate number of companies involved in making and selling things involved in hunting and fishing. I guess that fits right into the scheme of things given our state’s population’s interest in these outdoor sports. I suppose one lead to the other.
Outdoors impact? How about that $863 million spent on average in one year on hunting, fishing and related outdoors activities? That’s for guns, ammo, equipment, gear, boats, tackle, optics, clothing, boots, waders, decoys, tree stands, vehicles, travel, hotels, eating out and costs for everything else to participate in hunting and fishing. This is quite a chunk of change not to mention also all the taxes paid and the jobs created. Hunting and fishing is big time business.
Dr. John J. Woods, Ph.D., is vice president in charge of economic development and training, Eagle Ridge Conference and Training Center, the Workforce Development Center and contract training services at Hinds Community College in Raymond.
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