Economic impact of big-game hunting resonates through Montana

In 2016, resident hunters spent about 902,000 days hunting elk, and non-resident hunters nearly 147,000 days.

Travel to any small town in Montana elk country in the middle of November and you can see just how important big game hunting is to the Montana economy.

From the “Welcome Hunter” banners hanging on the front of local taverns, gas stations and restaurants, to the “No Vacancy” signs at local motels, big game hunters, both resident and non-resident, are key to Montana’s economy.

In a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department release Monday, Feb. 6, the agency said studies show that elk, deer and antelope hunters combined spent an estimated $324 million in Montana in 2016. That money supports more than 3,300 jobs.

In 2016, resident hunters spent nearly 973,000 days pursuing deer, about 902,000 days hunting elk and about 51,000 days chasing antelope. Non-resident hunters spent nearly 165,000 days hunting deer, nearly 147,000 days hunting elk and about 7,000 days chasing antelope.

According to data collected and analyzed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks the average resident deer hunter spends about $72.48 per day, compared to the average non-resident deer hunter who spends about $483.55 per day. For elk hunters, the daily expenditures are a bit more — $87 for residents and $582.07 for nonresidents. Antelope hunters spend even more per day — $103.30 for residents and $661.04 for nonresidents.

FWP recently produced an interactive story map to better illustrate this information. The story map allows people to see the information at a county-by-county level, or even by a hunting district-by-hunting district level.

To see the story map, go to FWP’s map resource page at and click on “The Economics of Big Game Hunting in Montana.”

Categories: Hunting News

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