Hunting and fishing are huge recreational factors for those of us who, by the grace of God, were born in Louisiana. It's just engrained in our psyche. Bred into our very genes.

Well, at least that's the way it seems to many of us, especially with the popularity of shows like Duck Dynasty and Swamp People that celebrate the use of our ample natural resources.

However, even in Louisiana where outdoors sports are widely accepted, we sportsmen represent a small portion of the population. Less than 10 percent of Louisiana's population purchased basic recreational fishing licenses in 2011, and just less than 4 percent of us bought a basic hunting license that year.


And believe it or not, there are some among those who don't hunt or fish who would think what we do is barbaric. That to flip out a lure, set the hook, snatch a fish into a boat and chunk it into the ice chest to be filleted is cruelty.

And hunting, where you don't have the option to toss back that deer or squirrel relatively unharmed? Oh, the horror!

Well, what those tree-hugging greenie weenies don't realize is that we gun-toting, rod-slinging, tobacco-chewing rednecks (yeah, and you Cajuns out there, too) are flush with money and ready to spend it on the pastimes we so love.

In an economy that just doesn't seem to have any get-up-and-go, hunters and fishermen across the nation have continued reaching into their pockets and shelling out hard, cold cash.

How much are we worth to the national economy? Almost $90 billion in 2011, according to the latest study by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

That's a lot of money generating jobs to service the industry, going to state and federal tax coffers, and funding conservation of all those species we love to chase — and many that are just pretty to look at.

How does our spending stack up against other sports? Pretty danged well.

For instance, more people fished in 2011 than played golf and tennis, combined. Fishing, viewed as a business, would rank 51st on the Fortune 500 list. The economic impact of sport fishing alone is greater than the entire Gross State Product of 17 states.

And that's just the impact of fishing.

Oh, and what about our bunny-loving brethren who shudder every time they see a truck easing down the road with a four-wheeler in the bed and the rack of a poor, innocent deer sticking out of an ice chest?

Well, let's just say they don't put their money where their mouths are. Wildlife-watching expenditures in 2011 totaled only $50 billion — just $3 billion more than the impact of fishing alone.

So the next time someone bashes you for your blood-loving ways, remind them that you are helping keep the economy afloat.

And then invite them to join in this patriotic duty.