EDWARDSBURG - It’s been seven years since Jeff Swadinsky bought a new shotgun, four years since he’s purchased a new tree stand.
But last week, standing in the parking lot outside Lunker’s sporting goods store, the Dowagiac hunter could show his impact on the state’s economy by simply opening his shopping bag.
Two boxes of 12-gauge sabot shotgun shells. Retail price: $24.
“Hopefully, this is all I’ll need this year,” said Swadinsky, who planned on sighting in his shotgun this weekend in preparation for Michigan’s firearm deer season opening day on Tuesday. The firearms deer season in Indiana started on Saturday.
Swadinsky had already spent $30 to purchase the necessary licenses to hunt deer on land near his home and said he’d also recently purchased a new pair of gloves, to replace a pair he lost in the woods last year.
“Everything’s tight right now,” said Swadinsky, who works as a home heating technician. “But if I can put a little meat in the freezer, then it justifies the cost.”
Even though he doesn’t spend as much as he used to on his hunting activities, Swadinsky’s dedication to hunting is part of a larger trend that shows hunting, especially for deer, remains strong.
While a sluggish economy is being blamed for the closure of golf courses and failing restaurants, deer hunting has remained popular.
In Indiana, more than 175,00 deer hunting licenses (not including antlerless, bonus and youth hunting tags) were sold last year, an increase of more than 8,000 tags from the 2006 season.
In Michigan, the number deer hunting tags sold in 2010 decreased by nearly 4 percent from the previous year, but follows the state’s decreasing overall population. Still, more than 656,000 people hunted deer in Michigan last year.
And all those people contribute to the local economy in some fairly significant ways.
According to a 2006 study commissioned by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, deer hunters in Indiana spent $119 million in retail sales and contributed nearly $27 million in state and federal taxes. According to the study, that spending helped to create more than 2,200 jobs.
In Michigan, that same study showed more than $713 million in retail sales and more than $170 million in tax revenue.
Spend little, spend much
And even with hunters, like everyone else, cutting back on spending, it’s hard to deny the economic impact that hunting season can bring.
“We’ve been very busy,” RJ Jesensky, a Lunker’s manager, said last week. “We’re not seeing so much of the big tickets items, but we’re selling lots of the smaller items.”
Although Lunker’s - and its largemouth bass-adorned sign - made its start as a store for fisherman, Jesensky said the fall season brings hunters needing everything from ammunition and guns, to things like bottled deer urine for scent and beef jerky snacks for the long hours in the tree stand.
“They might not be spending a lot of money, but $8 to $12 to $15 - a lot of little things that you have to get every year,” Jesensky said. “There’s a lot of little necessities.”