Do you think our lakes and forests are more crowded than they were five years ago?
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sure thinks so, based on the agency’s newest national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-related recreation.
The study, which compares 2011 activity with the last round of statistics gathered in 2006, shows a sharp rise in both hunting and fishing with some major differences in spending trends.
Here are findings from the preliminary results, which will be supplemented with state-specific data later this year:
• About 33 million people 16 and older fished in 2011, spending $41.8 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items, an average of $1,262 per angler, representing an increase of 11 percent from 2006.
• While participation in fishing increased, total fishing-related expenditures declined 11 percent, but purchases of equipment such as rods, reels and tackle did not decline.
• Overall hunting participation increased 9 percent, with 13.7 million people 16 years old and older hunting in 2011.
• Those 2011 hunters spent $34 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter.
• Total hunting-related spending increased 30 percent between 2006 and 2011, with purchases of hunting equipment such as guns, decoys, and ammunition increasing 29 percent
• The category with the biggest increase was land leasing and ownership, which rose 50 percent. Trip-related spending rose 39 percent.
• Overall spending declined 7 percent, with the greatest decrease (–44 percent) involving big-ticket items such as boats and recreational vehicles.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting the national survey every five years since 1955.
DOVES OPENER: If you’re tired of summer, the first harbinger of autumn arrives Saturday, when Georgia’s dove season opens at noon.
The official 2012-2013 dove seasons are Sept. 1-16, Oct. 13-21 and Nov. 22 to Jan. 5, with a daily limit of 15 birds.
If you’re shooting this weekend, remember to take along your hunting license, some youngsters and ammo.
LAKE CLOSINGS: Just as Labor day weekend is a harbinger of fall, it is also the close of the “official” recreation season at Thurmond Lake, where recreation areas will begin to shut down for the winter.
Closing for the season effective Tuesday, Sept. 4 will be Amity Day-Use Area; Big Hart Day-Use Area; Gill Point Day-Use Area and Parksville Day-Use Area. However, boat ramps located at these recreation areas will remain open throughout the winter for public use.
Below Dam South Carolina Recreation Area and Clarks Hill Day-Use Area will remain open year-round, along with portions of Lake Springs Day-Use Area and West Dam Day-Use Area.
Campgrounds closing Monday include Broad River, Clay Hill and Mt. Carmel, and closing Sept. 30 will be Big Hart Campground, Hawe Creek Campground, Hesters Ferry Campground, Modoc Campground, Raysville Campground, Ridge Road Campground, and Winfield Campground.
Bussey Point Campground, LeRoy’s Ferry Campground, and portions of Petersburg Campground are open year-round.