October 4, 2013 Updated: October 5, 2013 at 7:38 am
Hunters who threatened to boycott Colorado if gun control legislation was approved may have been shooting blanks.
Indeed, so far, numbers are up about 4 percent on draws and sales of leftover licenses have been on target with expectations, said Randy Hampton, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Actual numbers, however, won't be available until about mid-November, he cautioned.
"The majority of non-resident hunting occurs during our second or third rifle seasons," Hampton said.
The second season runs from Oct. 19-27 and the third season runs from Nov. 2-10.
The biggest negative impact on license sales may come from flooding in northeastern Colorado.
"We have areas in northeastern Colorado where because of flooding, access is limited," he said. "There may be some licenses people refund and that could have a negative impact."
The legislation approved by the state legislature -- a restriction on magazine sizes and background checks on the private sales of guns -- "has no impact on big game hunters," Hampton said. "It's really people making a political statement that they disagreed, and they can do that. It's America."
Another major concern heading into this hunting season was ammunition. But there seems to be a turnaround taking place.
Once hard-to-find ammunition is becoming increasingly available, Hampton said.
"Depending on the caliber of the rifle, there can be shortages, but most of what I am hearing from our folks is that it's better than it was last year and it has loosened up even more recently," he said.
In Colorado, outdoor recreation is big business, pumping revenue into local economies.
Hunting and fishing is a $1.8 billion industry in the state, Hampton said.
Hunting's total economic impact was $583.9 million, according to a study in 2007.
Although that is outdated, it provides a ballpark for how big the industry is in Colorado. Elk was the heavyweight, at $295 million. Deer revenue came in at about $100 million.
Non-resident big game hunters were the bigger spenders, plopping down $216 a day. Resident hunters spent $106 a day.
The total impact to the economy in El Paso County was $99 million.
"Hunting seasons are just as important to communities like Rifle, Montrose, Meeker and Craig on the Western Slope and Alamosa and Trinidad as skiing is to Vail or Aspen," Hampton said.