Business Blog

Hunters Pay Their Way Via License Fees and Excise Taxes


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 100 times: Sportsmen and women contribute more to wildlife and habitat conservation than any other group. One glance at the numbers proves it. But what does this really mean in the big picture? Let’s take a look inside those numbers, courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 2017 Industry Intelligence Report, “A Profile of Today’s Hunter.”


The biggest ways in which hunters contribute to conservation are through license fees and excise taxes. In fact, state fish and game agencies that are responsible for wildlife conservation obtain more than three quarters of their revenue from these two sources. 


License Fees – This includes the gross cost to hunters for licenses, tags, permits and stamps. From 1965-2015 (the last year for which there is complete data), hunters paid in $22.1 billion. The figure for 2015 alone was a whopping $853 million.


Excise Taxes – These are taxes paid by manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and other hunting products. After these taxes are collected, the funds are apportioned to the states under the Federal Aid Program governed by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. State agencies gain access to these funds through grants that helps restore wildlife and habitat, acquire land and educate hunters. In 2016, these taxes totaled more than $866 million.


Excise tax collections by category for 2016 were as follows:


Handguns: $282,588,299

Long Guns: $275,379,590

Ammunition: $308,190,287


These numbers are just a glimpse into the economic impact that sportsmen and women make when they open their wallets. The total economic impact when taking into account equipment, food, lodging, trip costs and the dozens of other hunting expenditures is truly staggering. We’ll cover that in the next installment on this topic here at the Realtree Business Blog.