It was a record year for firearm and ammo sales in 2012 and a strong showing for archery purchases will be a boon to state fish and wildlife departments across the country this year.
That’s because excise taxes on guns, ammo, archery equipment and arrow components are collected and appropriated from a federal account, then returned to states based on land area and number of paid license holders.
More than $555 million in gross tax receipts were collected, and just over $500 million could be divided among the states.
Wisconsin’s previous record grants of more than $15 million in 2010 should be shattered, and might surpass $17 million.
Hunters and wildlife watchers both benefit from the federal money. Some of the money goes to buying, leasing, maintaining, developing and operating state management areas which can be utilized by everyone.
That’s a good thing, because the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that both fishing and hunting numbers increased in the past five years and wildlife watching is as popular as ever.
More than 90 million U.S. residents age 16 and older participating in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011, spending more than $144 billion on the activities.
Estimates are that more than 33 million citizens age 16 and older fished, 13.7 million hunted and 71.8 million participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity such as observing, feeding and photographing wildlife.
The cottontail rabbit season closes Feb. 28, lake trout season opens March 1 on Lake Michigan and the early catch-and-release trout season opens in many inland trout waters March 2.
New 2013-14 fishing and hunting licenses go on sale beginning March 6, with the 2012-13 licenses expiring March 31.
There’s plenty of ice in most popular fishing areas on Green Bay, but snowmobiles and four-wheelers are getting around better in the deeper drifts off plowed roads.
Whitefish remain the most common catch, but there has been some decent yellow perch action at times. The perch season runs through March 15 on the bay.
• The Wisconsin State Hunting Expo in Ashwaubenon will be held at Shopko Hall, across from Lambeau Field, through Sunday afternoon. A new state record archery typical whitetail scoring 1893/8 will be one of the top attractions. For more information, go to www.wisconsinstatehuntingexpo.com.
• The 15th annual Muskrat City Bunny Hunt and raffle will be held Saturday at the Muskrat City Sportsman’s Club. Register there from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, with weigh-in between noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Public welcome. For more information, call (920) 388-3276.
• A multi-species ice fishing tournament will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday headquartered at Wave Point Marina in Little Sturgeon. For more information, call (920) 621-7439.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail him at email@example.com or call (920) 883-9792.