Anglers are outspending hunters, but as a group, their activities are having a significant economic impact in North Dakota, according to a recent study conducted by the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University.
“We know that hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation are an important quality-of-life factor for many North Dakotans,” said Terry Steinwand, director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, which commissioned the study. “This report reinforces the notion that economic activity associated with our outdoors is significant as well.”
And the anglers, whose numbers have increased to 205,000 in 2017-18 from 153,000 in 2011-12, are the spendiest group of enthusiasts treading North Dakota's waters. In addition to gear, they are liking fiberglass fishing boats and turning more attention to acquiring fish houses that also can serve as campers, toy haulers and hunting shacks. The report, released in January, notes that anglers spent $787.8 million during the 2017-18 outdoor season, while hunters spent $186.6 million.
"Expenditures for boat gas increased over the period, reflecting the expense of operating large outboard motors, as well as increased transportation expenditures, reflective on towing larger boats," said Elvis Ndembe, a research assistant who co-authored the study.
The 130-page report indicates that, since the last study released in 2011-12, hunters have decreased their spending by 22 percent and anglers have increased their spending by 68 percent.
There are a number of factors that contributed to the changes, according to Ndembe. One of the most important is the reduction in Conservation Reserve Program lands that are available as hunting grounds. Many of these hunters, deterred by access issues and the diminishing number of deer licenses available, may be turning to more fishing opportunities and spending their money on other outdoor alternatives, he said.
Total direct expenditures of $974.4 million from hunting and fishing in North Dakota generated $1.1 billion in secondary economic effects and have supported 3,263 full-time jobs.
Who is spending all this money? The survey says the typical hunter is 49 years old and spends about seven days each year hunting in North Dakota. The average angler is 49 years old as well and spends 11 days per year fishing in North Dakota. Of course, this brings one to wonder if this is the same guy.
Cal Singleton, of Mandan, acknowledges he indulges in hunting and fishing. He says he spends more money on fishing than hunting. However, I happen to know that he's not that 49-year-old guy. Sorry, Cal.
"I have plenty of lightly used equipment and clothing for both," Singleton said. "But I am more frugal than most."
Still, Singleton said he spends money each fishing season on his boat, fuel, batteries, storage fees, license, tackle and bait.
The NDSU study enumerated secondary economic effects, including purchases of cameras and binoculars, and cited an impact of nearly $1.14 billion.
I would like to know, as a kayaker who caught a fish once, whether the study looked at how much money anglers are spending to replace the cellphones they have dropped into the Missouri River. That happened to me once ... or twice.