November 21, 2016

West Virginia celebrating tradition | The Inter-Mountain

West Virginia is celebrating one of our oldest pastimes, deer firearm season. It is a tradition that is central to not only our state’s culture, but also to me. As a young boy growing up in Farmington, few things excited me more than the arrival of opening day buck season.  As any hunter knows, there are so many aspects of hunting that make it such an enjoyable pastime, and allow West Virginians to reconnect with family and friends by celebrating our common bonds.

Deer season is also a critical component of our economy. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources estimates that there will be 300,000 hunters out today for opening day.  This year, deer season as a whole will bring in over $500 million for the West Virginia economy. Deer hunters will spend over $230 million and will provide over $35 million in sales taxes on goods and services. Additionally, deer season sustains over 5,000 jobs, making it one of the most important periods of the year for our state’s economy. By hunting, you aren’t just celebrating our cultural heritage; you’re keeping our economy moving forward.

The benefits of deer season, especially buck season, also extend to our state’s foodbanks who depend on generous donations of venison.   Organized through the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Hunters Helping the Hungry allows hunters to donate deer to meat processors. The processors then pass on the venison to the Mountaineer Food Banks. For a quarter of a century, Hunters Helping the Hungry has donated food to thousands of families in need, truly making a difference in our communities. It shows the character of our state, one that looks out for its neighbors and fellow citizens.

My love of the outdoors and being an avid sportsman enabled me to be named Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. This gives me the opportunity to play an integral role in making sure our country’s policies celebrate our hunting traditions. I understand the importance of the sportsmen’s access to federal lands and this helped me support the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015. This enhances hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting activities, and also provides an economic boosts to the states affected. Helping to protect our state and nation’s hunting traditions is important to me.

I’m proud to come from a state with such a rich cultural heritage. Our deer firearms season epitomizes our state’s love for family and community, all celebrated in the great outdoors of the Mountain State. I wish all hunters luck on your search for the big buck. Enjoy your time with friends and family, and remember that you are celebrating our state’s heritage while powering our economy.