The 2008 National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday, Sept. 27. New York's 1.2 million hunters and anglers, seldom considered the major economic and political factor they represent, are among the most prominent and influential of all demographic groups, spending more than $1.8 billion a year on hunting and fishing, and this is "their day."
Hunting and fishing is deeply entrenched in our area, thanks primarily to our past generations of rural lifestyles, abundant fish and game habitat and ready access to both activities. Although hunting license sales have declined in recent years, there's a spike in sales occurring this year – up about 75,000 from last year year, and about 20,000 above 2006. Perhaps it's the result of a lowering of the mandatory age to hunt deer, possibly aided by the area's depressed economy and high unemployment rate, meaning some have more free time and also want to supplement their food bill with fish and game they harvest themselves. But, make no mistake that hunting and fishing's economic impacts, both locally and statewide, remain major factors through both good and bad times.
Spending by the state's hunters and anglers directly supports 28,000 jobs, which puts $1 billion worth of paychecks into pockets of working residents around the state. Of course, government also benefits – spending by sportsmen in pursuit of these outdoor activities directly generates $250 million annually in state and local taxes. These latest figures demonstrate that, season after season, hunters and anglers are driving the economy, from big cities to rural towns, through booms and recessions. But that wasn't always the case.