Recreational hunters are happier, healthier people than the rest of us - and they contributed more than $2.4billion to the national economy in a single year a new report shows.
The Commonwealth Department of Health-commissioned report Economic and social impacts of recreational hunting and shooting was published this month, with the research undertaken by RMCG.
The report found recreational hunting and sport shooting contributed an estimated $2.413billion (gross) to the Australian economy in 2018, both through direct benefits as well as flow-on effects.
In NSW alone an estimated $847million was injected into the economy last year by recreational shooters.
The same survey also indicated recreational hunters and shooters enjoyed greater health benefits and subjective wellbeing than the average person due to their involvement in the pastime.
The results are not surprising for Terry Leiper, of Bega, who said he is "passionate" about hunting.
"It's stimulating, it's challenging. We're not sedentary people," Mr Leiper said.
"We're an inquisitive lot, we are out there climbing a mountain and then we want to know what's in the next valley over.
"It's a great cardio workout and a fringe benefit is the clean, green meat we take home."
Mr Leiper said he tries to get out "a couple of times a month" and that his children are approaching an age where they can soon accompany him on hunting trips. He said his father and grandfather were both recreational hunters and he's more than happy about the activity being passed along to his own children.
"They are learning the protocols and the safety aspects of it long before they ever take part. It's a lifelong enjoyable activity."
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The report's focus on the economic benefits to recreational hunting was also unsurprising to Mr Leiper.
"Most of the year there's something in season," he said. "I've been to Victoria for ducks and way out west and other states for pigs.
"Most people have 4WDs and need fuel, clothing and specialised equipment. You spend that money in the local economy of wherever you are."
He added that there were also social benefits like incorporating a hunting trip with a family holiday, rounding up a group of like-minded people for an interstate trip, or the networks of fellow hunters and shooters met through clubs and other activities.
Data for the report was obtained through an online survey distributed via hunting and shooting associations and relevant state government departments for completion by their members.
The number of useable responses far outstripped expectations, with 16,576 people taking the survey, which looked to estimate the economic contribution of recreational hunting and sport shooting in Australia as well as explore the impact of the activity on health and wellbeing.
"Direct" input was considered as retail spending directly related to pursuing their sport, such as groceries, ammunition and fuel, as well as accommodation, and the manufacturing industry (e.g. hunting equipment and accessories).
The flow-on impacts were those such as the employment and gross state product (GSP) in the businesses that support and supply the retail, accommodation and manufacturing companies.
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An example used in the published report was of a hunter from Queensland who purchases ammo and refresher training before going on a hunting trip to NSW where they buy food, fuel and camping fees.
"In this example hunting activity in NSW directly stimulated economic activity in both NSW and Queensland. Furthermore, the ammunition purchased in a gun shop in Queensland could have been manufactured in Victoria and flow-on economic activity will show up in Victoria from the purchase in Queensland."
The total gross contribution of the sport to Australia's economy in 2018 ($2.4billion) was approximately 0.1 per cent of Australia's total GDP ($1,853 billion).
Meanwhile, the report also looked into the potential health benefits of recreational hunting and shooting sports.
Based on survey results, on average, in a three-hour period spent hunting or shooting, the hunter/shooter will:
Travel in a vehicle for 47 minutes
Walk briskly for 27 minutes
Walk slowly for 48 minutes
Stand/squat for 32 minutes
Sit outside a vehicle for 26 minutes
"This suggests that a hunting/shooting trip involving three hours of hunting/shooting time will contribute significantly to the objective of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.," the report says.
Twenty-four per cent of respondents reported they went hunting/shooting every fortnight, with 18 per cent saying every week, meaning their sport contributed significantly towards meeting physical activity guidelines.
Overall, hunters and shooters reported subjective wellbeing significantly higher than the general population.
RMCG said those results could be due to a difference in age distribution when comparing the two groups, or that the wellbeing questions came towards the end of the survey when those who enjoy the sporting pursuit would be "positively primed" when answering.
However, despite this, the results were reported as "consistent with the hypothesis that engaging in hunting is associated with higher wellbeing for those in younger age groups".
Read the full report and its findings here