Deer hunting in Michigan is not just a pastime, but a significant state-level economic engine, according to this story in the Holland (MI) Sentinel.

A few years ago, Tim Becker was laid off from a manufacturing job. Instead of just sitting around, waiting to hear about job possibilities, Becker said, he pooled resources with a business partner and launched a sporting goods store, Powderhorn Guns and Archery LLC in Holland Township. Today, roughly two years after launching the store, business is booming. “It’s been real good,” Becker said. “Our business has been really high, especially gun sales and crossbow sales.”

Outdoors-related businesses such as Becker’s represent a thriving sector in state’s lackluster economy. In Michigan last year, outdoor enthusiasts spent more than $6 billion on trips, lodging, transportation and equipment. “It’s a considerable part of our state’s economy,” said Ed Golder, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

According to the story, many hunting-related businesses in Michigan are reporting an increase in sales, and two rule changes in particular have helped drive it: new rules expanding the use of crossbows for deer hunting, and doing away with the state’s minimum age for hunting.