Here are a few numbers the group Hunting Works for Ohio wants you to know: $1.4 billion; 20,000; 553,000; and $97 million.
The recently created group of business leaders and advocates has decided the best way to protect and grow the industry is to educate the people, hence the numbers. But what do the numbers mean?
Let’s start with $1.4 billion; that’s the amount of money the group says outdoorsmen bring to the State economy.
How many outdoorsmen, you wonder? That’s where the next number comes into play; roughly 553,000 people hunt in Ohio on an annual basis and they generate $97 million dollars in local and state taxes.
All of that buying power helps employ 20,000 people, including several that work on Beth Ellis’ pheasant farm.
“On our farm, it takes labor to raise these birds, it takes labor for customer service and for the services that we offer,” said Ellis.
She is one of several people who co-chair the group, and she says it would not be good if the number of hunters declined in the state.
But according to Tom Vorisek, that’s already happening. Vorisek is an avid hunter and is another of the co-chairs of the group.
He grew up loving the outdoors and says the numbers of hunters have been declining for the last 10-15 years.
“If you take it to its Nth degree and outdoor pursuits vanish, it will be a dramatic impact both locally and statewide on Ohio’s economy,” said Vorisek.
The mission of Hunting Works for Ohio is supposed to prevent that from happening.
“Part of what Hunting Works for Ohio is all about is an education campaign to let people know what hunting means economically to the State of Ohio,” said Vorisek.
Vorisek and Ellis believe there has been a shift in culture away from outdoor pursuits and in favor of indoor activities, like playing video games.
“No one remembers their best day they played video games, but they will remember that day; ‘mom do you remember that time that you and dad and I went out and do you remember when that bird flushed up and that hawk came down after it?’ you can’t manufacture that,” said Ellis.
Lawmakers are taking notice of what the group fears and earlier this year the state legislature passed a bill that made changes to hunting and fishing licenses designed to increase interest and access to Ohio’s great outdoors.
Those changes go into effect at the end of next month.