Economic opportunities come to communities in different ways and during different times of the year. Most towns in southeastern Montana have annual events that occur year after year and bring an infusion of dollars into the community. In Miles City the Bull Sale in February, Bucking Horse Sale in the spring and the county fair in August are income-generating activities that happen each and every year. Hunting season in the spring and the fall brings a consistent economic gain to most towns in southeastern Montana. Many small businesses across eastern Montana understand the importance of the hunter’s dollar each fall and they depend on that consistent income. Those of us who hunt, fish, camp, watch wildlife, hike and generally enjoy spending our time outdoors realize that it’s costly to do these things. The dollars recreationists spend are an important source of annual income to our communities in southeastern Montana and add to the strength of the local economy.
According Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Responsive Management Unit, hunters spend millions of dollars each year in support of their outdoor passions. Each year the responsive management unit computes the average amount of money per day that residents and non-residents spend hunting in Montana. FWP Research and Technical Services Section produces a Harvest Survey that shows the hunter days that residents and non-residents devoted to hunting different species in each of the seven FWP regions.
The data recovered from the 2008 deer, elk, antelope and upland game bird hunting season indicated that hunters spent over $23 million dollars in southeastern Montana during the fall of 2008. That’s a lot of money in a short period of time.
In southeastern Montana, deer hunters expended the largest amount at $11.3M. Next came the antelope hunters at $4.7M. Upland game bird hunters spent $4.6M and elk hunters $2.4M. The costs for licenses are not included in these expenditures.
The Block Management Program provided $1,113,168 paid to 343 cooperators enrolled in the program for the 2008 hunting season. This included $53,008 in direct payments for weed control. Hunters used the program to find places to hunt, amounting to 85,723 hunter days. The compensation landowners receive for hunter impacts assists with operational expenses on the ranch/farm and frequently those dollars are spent in local communities.
Local business experience a healthy increase in patronage associated with the fall hunting season. Most of those businesses are heavily dependant on the customer base associated with outdoor recreation throughout the year.
Hunters arrive in the fall, after the summer tourist season is winding down. The expenditure hunter’s make are important for the local economy and provide a steady and consistent income source each fall.