Three themes dominating the news - economic development, family values and gun ownership - came together in a business story Sunday about Missouri outdoorsmen.
Hunters and fishermen in Missouri spent $1.67 billion in 2011, the most recent figures available. The total translates into average spending of Â $2,407 by each of the 1.2 billion outdoorsmen. Outdoor activities are credited with supporting 28,895 jobs.
In addition to the boost to economic development, state and local governments benefit from taxes and permits.
Hunters and anglers generated an estimated $181 million in state and local taxes during 2011. The Missouri Department of Conservation collected $20.3 million that year in resident hunting and fishing permits, and an additional $11.3 million from non-residents.
Missouri's attraction as an outdoor destination is reflected its ranking; it is number 12 among the 50 states in numbers of hunters and fishermen.
The numbers, however, tell only part of the story.
Outdoor activities offer a stellar opportunity for families - grandparents, parents and children - to spend time together.
Hunting and fishing involve sharing instruction, tradition and values, as well as creating memories.
Instruction is an important component, particularly with regard to hunting. The sport allows parents to teach that care and safety are paramount when handling a firearm.
Courtesy, preservation and respect are other lessons that are an integral part of outdoor activities.
Hunting and fishing are assets to Missouri government and our state's economy. But, most important, they strengthen Missouri families.