Hunting has major financial benefits for North Central West Virginia

By DARLENE J. SWIGER

The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia’s traditional buck firearms season starts today and runs through Dec. 2.

Deer hunting has a $500 million economic impact in the state, according to the latest statistics provided by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

Colton Starkey of Wallace checks out a .243 deer file with the assistance of Dough Anderson at Marsh’s Lumber and Home Center in Clarksburg.
(Exponent Telegram photo by Darlene J. Swiger)

There are approximately 250,000 deer hunters in the state, and West Virginia ranks 35th in the country in the number of sportsmen — both anglers and hunters, according to a 2011 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A new survey is expected to be released in January.

“On average, each hunter spends $22 a day, and the state of West Virginia receives approximately $15 million in license sales each year, which is a decreasing trend in licensing,” said DNR Supervisor of Game Management Services Chris Ryan.

Southwick Associates, a company that calculated the economic contribution of hunting in 2011 for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, provided some statistics to the Division of Natural Resources concerning hunting in the state.

“Of the nearly 250,000 hunters, more than 190,000 of them are deer hunters. Retail sales connected to all hunting total $421,819,113, while also providing salaries and wages of $153,805,141 and 5,377 jobs,” Ryan said. “It produces $35,544,522 in state and local taxes and over $35 million in federal taxes.”

Arlis Marsh, owner of Marsh’s Lumber and Home Center in Rosebud Plaza, Clarksburg, said hunting season is very important to his business.

The store carries an extensive variety of firearms, ammunition, scopes, deer feed and accessories.

“Everybody is buying shells. We also are selling hunting rifles and scopes,” Marsh said. “It is a busy time for the store.”

Doug Anderson, who works at Marsh’s sporting goods counter, said .243 shells are hard to find, but they are well stocked. An avid hunter for more than 50 years, he is able to provide expertise to the customers on guns and accessories they may be looking for.

“We are selling mostly ammo — anything from .22 to .243 to .30-06. Many hunters are last minute shoppers. They are looking for scopes, mounts and rings,” Anderson said.

Ace Hardware, Shinnston, carries deer corn, apple-flavored whole corn, twisted oaks feeds and the regular mineral blocks.

“We have a variety of hunting ammunition. We also have hand warmers, which are a must,” owner Adam Southern said. “We do get a lot of people come in for the corn. We go through about 3 ton a week. It is a great time for all our deer products.”

Tanner Carder, manager of McFly Outdoors, Bridgeport, said the three days before the opening of buck gun season is almost the busiest weekend of the entire year.

“Next weekend, starting with Black Friday, is the busiest weekend of the year. We carry ammunition, rifles, scopes, targets and of course, camouflage and orange for safety reasons. Those are, by far, are the best selling items right now.”

Carder and other merchants agree that this is a crucial time for their bottom line.

“It’s probably our most important season, because it leads into Christmas. As soon as rifle hunting starts, through the end of the year, is our busiest time of the entire year,” Carder said.

Staff writer Darlene J. Swiger can be reached at (304) 626-1403 or [email protected]

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