Hunting season ignites economic engine

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TUSCALOOSA | Just about everyone knows Alabama’s football season began Saturday. But the state has another season that also started Sept. 4.

The sound of shotguns thundered across the Alabama countryside as dove season opened up throughout most of the state. Even though it’s officially still summer, it was the opening salvo of an autumn rite that consumes many Alabama sportsmen for the next six to eight months. But it’s also an economic engine that provides a welcome influx of cash to much of West Alabama.

“When hunting season comes in they come in droves, eight or nine at a time,” said Dillon Daniels, chef at Smokin’ Jack’s BBQ in Demopolis. “I guess they’re looking for the after-hours shooting house.”

Dove season has broad participation, but it’s a preliminary for most hunters. The intensity ratchets up when deer season arrives.

“You can even tell when the planting season for hunters arrived, when they start planting their fields,” Daniels said. “When planting time starts, you see those Shelby County and Montgomery County tags roll in.”

Hunters fill up restaurants and motels in the rural areas where game abounds. They buy ammunition, guns, boots and hunting clothes at sporting goods stores and fill up with gas and snacks at convenience stores. Farm supply centers see a spike in seed and fertilizer sales as time comes for hunters to plant food plots that attract game.

Economic impact

According to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources statistics, hunting has an $840 million economic impact on the state and creates more than 17,500 jobs.

“The economic impact encompasses license sales, lodging, dining, equipment purchases, fuel purchases and retail sales,” said Pam Swanner, project manager for Alabama Black Belt Adventures. “It’s all about folks coming to an area or coming to a state and spending their money.”

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