(WGEM) -- Thousands of hunters from all over the country are flocking to the area this weekend for the start of firearm deer season in Illinois. While their trip to get the big buck may only last a few days, the big bucks they spend leave a lasting impact on local businesses.
The Quincy Area Visitors and Convention Bureau says the average sportsman tourist spends more than any other visitor, an average of $150 per day.
And many local businesses depend on that cash boost every fall when deer season comes around.
Whether it's a retail store or a lodge, businesses like Eagles Lake Outfitters are seeing a major impact on their bottom line from just one weekend.
"Huge... Huge. It's a family operated business so it means a lot to us, and there's a lot of people that count on us to lease their property, in order to have an income or make something," said Eagle Lakes Outfitters Co-owner Tina Sprague.
And Sprague says the deer season brings in a ton of revenue to the local economy.
"It brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars to this area. With all of the outfitters it brings in Millions of Dollars to Pike County," said Sprague.
Joe Leuci and his friends come to Illinois all the way from upstate New York...and the excursion doesn't come cheap.
"Usually between three or four thousand dollars of spending just for the trip and then usually four, forty five hundred dollars," said Leuci.
So why do deer hunters from across the nation come to our area?
Last firearm season, Pike County was number one in the state with nearly 3,000 deer harvested and Adams County was third with nearly 2,400 deer.
Kyle Hefner came up from Oklahoma for the first time, and he says he's been wanting to do this for years.
"I've heard about Pike County since I was a little kid you know. You watch TV shows, you hear about people shooting big deer, you know Pike County is where it's at. It's as good as it gets in the United States," said Hefner.
The firearm season officially starts tomorrow and goes through Sunday.
Legal hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
The second firearm season runs November 29 through December 2.
In most counties, hunters who succeed in taking a deer during the firearm season must register online through the IDNR website or by phoning 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325).
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