Media Clips


Published on November 30, 2010 under News & Events

Outdoors Editor
The idea wasn’t necessarily to blend in. At least not here, in the organization’s first days. But in a place that was wall-to-wall blaze orange, so it was for Hunting Works for Minnesota on the eve of the Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener.

Still, the new nonprofit grassroots organization wasn’t exactly camouflaged. Once in the door at the Camp Ripley kickoff to the GDHO, there it was – the first booth on the right. And many of those in attendance that Friday morning and afternoon took notice. A new hunting organization in Minnesota has that effect.

Hunting Works for Minnesota seeks to spotlight Minnesota businesses impacted by hunting in the state. That works for the five co-chairs of the organization and the ever-growing group of partners associated with the HWFM. And, they say, for the future of hunting in the state.

“They don’t have any hidden agendas,” said Ron Schara, Minnesota outdoors icon and a co-chair of the HWFM. “They’re just trying to get the word out to everybody, including those who make the decisions in the Legislature, that there is an economic side to hunting.”

After several months of lining up co-chairs and partners, the HWFM launched less than a month ago – and less than two weeks before the firearms deer hunting opener. According to the HWFM website (www.huntingworks, the organization exists to promote the strong economic partnership between the hunting and shooting communities and the economy of Minnesota. The HWFM said the partnership will monitor public policy decisions and weigh in on hunting-related issues that impact Minnesota jobs.

“I’ve run into situations where various states were passing laws to discourage nonresident hunters or gouge them financially through license fees. I talk to motel owners and they lament that,” Schara said Wednesday while en route to Kansas for a quail and pheasant hunting TV shoot. “Most of the time you’re thinking about hunting in terms of wildlife populations, family, tradition, blah, blah, blah. But you seldom talk about it as an economic force. It’s not the leading force but it is a force. It’s seldom talked about in any media. A lot of us take it (the economic impact) for granted.”

As of Wednesday, the HWFM said it had 95 partners on board. According to the HWFM website, “the membership consists of businesses representing a cross-section of the Minnesotan economy, including sporting retailers big and small, restaurant owners, hotel, motel and resort operators, gas stations and convenience stores, hunting and shooting organizations, chambers of commerce and, of course, all the taxpayers of Minnesota (hunters and non-hunters alike) who benefit economically and aesthetically from the license fees, taxes and jobs the hunting and shooting industry provides both directly and indirectly.” The HWFM added that the effort is being supported by sporting organizations such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, each year, 597,000 people hunt in Minnesota, spending more than $480 million on lodging, food, gas and gear while paying more than $63.8 million in state taxes.

“I have partners who say ‘yes, we recognize the value of hunting as an economic force for us,” Schara said. “And somewhere down the road, if the Legislature comes up with some goofy proposal that would impact hunting, the opposition would be forceful if you have motel operators and hardware owners (and other HWFM partners) getting on the horn and saying, ‘what are you doing?'”

Other co-chairs include Brian Steinhoff, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association; Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association; Cal Brink, executive director of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce; and Greg Larson, a business owner in Redwood Falls.

In the Brainerd lakes area, HWFM partners are Dale Walz, manager of Lakeshore Conservation Club in Nisswa, and Gretchen Ennis, tourism director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

An association with the HWFM was a no-brainer for Walz. Because the organization was launched after the Lakeshore trap and skeet seasons ended, Walz wasn’t able to promote the HWFM at the club this fall, but he plans to do so when those seasons kick off again in the spring.

“I’m on board with it, Walz said of the HWFM. “We’re a shooting facility, so we’re big into preservation. It was a natural fit. Anything to do with preserving and hunting and shooting sports.”

According to the HWFM, efforts are in the works to increase the number of partners in the Brainerd lakes area and across the state as the organization continues to grow. And, ultimately, that growth goes hand-in-hand with continuing to grow hunting in the state.

“One hurdle is that young Minnesotans are not fishing and hunting like they used to. It is slowly declining,” Schara said. “That hasn’t necessarily happened with deer hunting. And that’s not necessarily this organization’s challenge. But it is a challenge for the hunting community – to get young people to try hunting.”

BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at [email protected] or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to