More than 540,000 hunters are expected to participate in Michigan’s upcoming firearms season beginning Sunday and is expected to generate more than $2.3 billion in economic impact in the state, including expenses related to food and lodging and $1.3 billion spent on equipment, estimates the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Hunting is one more way that Michigan’s rich natural resources are helping to drive the state’s economy and contributing to our overall quality of life,” says Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “With the opening of firearms season for deer we will see more than 20,000 licensed hunters from outside of the state come to Michigan and more than half a million residents traveling to get to deer camp or their perfect spot, providing a boost to local communities along the way.”
Arwoods says while the deer harvest was down in 2014 — following trends seen across the Midwest — the Michigan Department of Natural Resources expects this year to provide an increased success rate – especially in the Northern and Southern Lower Peninsula. To combat decreased deer herds across the Upper Peninsula, the result of several consecutive years of harsh winters, the DNR has brought together a U.P. Habitat Workgroup to develop detailed deer winter range habitat strategies including management plans for individual deer wintering complexes throughout the U.P.
The workgroup — comprised of natural resource professionals, private landowners and sportsmen’s groups — is led by Natural Resources Commission member J.R. Richardson of Ontonagon and Jim Hammill of Crystal Falls, a wildlife management consultant who is also a retired DNR biologist. With an estimated 80 percent of the winter deer habitat in the U.P. managed by entities other than the DNR, the U.P. Habitat Workgroup will work cooperatively with these other stakeholders to improve deer winter range strategies across all land ownerships in the region.
Helping to manage healthy herds and habitats to ensure a successful hunt has important implications for Michigan’s economy. In 2014, an estimated $85 million was spent specifically on leisure travel related to hunting activities in the state according to data from D.K. Shifflet. Hunting and fishing leisure travel spending combined for $342 million in Michigan last year.
Michigan ranks No. 3 in the nation for the number of licensed hunters statewide and 650,000 hunters are expected to purchase a deer hunting license this year. The DNR estimates more than 90 percent of Michigan hunters will pursue deer this year, with hunters spending an average of 14 days afield during the season. In Michigan, 60 percent of hunters only hunt deer making the upcoming firearm season an especially important driver of the state’s hunting economy.
To promote the hunt in Michigan – both for deer and other species, including grouse – Pure Michigan and the DNR collaborated again this year on a targeted marketing campaign to reach hunters both in-state and in neighboring states, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Arwood says the Pure Michigan landing page on OutdoorHub.com continues to be a key component of the marketing efforts around hunting and fishing. The landing page features custom content showcasing hunting and fishing opportunities in Michigan. In 2014, the Pure Michigan landing page received nearly 80,000 views, with 62 percent of pageviews coming from outside of the state of Michigan.