Consider this partial list of public lands open to hunters in the U.S.:
- National Forest land - 150 million acres
- Bureau of Land Management land - 240 million acres
- Pittman Robertson lands - 54 million acres
- Conservation Reserve Program lands - 25 million acres
- National Wildlife Refuges - 5 million acres +
TOTAL 474 million acres.
So how many hunters are there in the U.S.?
About 14 million adults hunt, or one hunter for every 31 acres of public access hunting lands. Of course, most hunting in the U.S. is actually done on private land, leased for that purpose by hunting clubs, open to friends of farmers, and by rural land owners themselves.
How important are hunters in American politics? Quite a lot. Consider this, in 2012 President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden beat the pants off of the combined ticket of Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, 332 electoral college votes to 206. The actual number of votes between the two, however, was only about 5 million, meaning that a shift of just over 2.5 million voters from one side to the other (in the right states, of course) would have changed the outcome of the election.
Both Democrats and Republicans get this, of course, which is why there are no serious attacks on hunting in the U.S. Congress, and why the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus is the largest on Capitol Hill. As for an attack from the courts, good luck with that: Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan goes duck and deer hunting with Justice Antonin Scalia, and even Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an angler.
There is also the matter of economics, jobs, and state and local taxes. American hunters spend about $38.3 billion a year including:
- Over $6 billion a year on guns, ammunition and archery equipment which is about the same as the bicycle sales in the United States.
- Over $5.4 billion in state and local taxes, a sum that could pay the wages of 113,000 firefighters, or more one third of of all professional firefighters in the country.
- Over $8 billion a year to to own, lease and cultivate land for hunting.
- Over $10.4 billion on hunting trips in 2011-- a sum greater than total U.S. movie box office gross receipts that same year.