The Colorado Division of Wildlife estimates hunting and fishing bring $1.5 billion to the state's economy every year. Experts say it doesn't look like the tough economic times will cause a big drop-off in hunting this year, but add the industry may be fueled by a different group of people.
The DOW says calling hunting season important to the state's economy is an understatement.
"Hunting and fishing, when you combine them, have as much of an economic impact on the State of Colorado as skiing," said Randy Hampton, Public Information Officer for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Perhaps no business knows that like Sportsman's Warehouse.
"It's probably twenty-five to thirty percent of overall sales, or maybe even more," said Don Tyre, a hunting sales associate at Sportsman's Warehouse.
Only a few weeks into the archery portion of big game season, the store says it's already reaping the benefits.
"In the last week or so, there's been an upturn in sales and a lot of people coming through the store," said Tyre.
With rifle season just a few weeks away, they think that trend will continue. But DOW officials say based on early permit numbers, it won't be out-of-staters packing their aisles.
"What we do see is a little bit fewer non-resident hunters that may be coming to Colorado," said Hampton. "But we have seen an increase in the number of people from Colorado that are looking to hunt in-state this year."
Officials say that's largely a result of the economy.
"What we anticipate is people may just be staying a little closer to home this year with the economic challenge," said Hampton.
They add that many families are also looking for ways to get a better bang for their buck when it comes to food -- and it's tough to find a better deal than elk meat.
"They can get quite a bit of meat off a good size elk to feed their family through the winter," said Tyre.
The DOW says Colorado has the largest migratory herds of elk and mule deer in the country -- so at the end of the day a resource like that will still bring plenty of people from all over to spend their money in Western Colorado.
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