By MIKE CORN
HORSETHIEF RESERVOIR -- They number only 16 percent of the total number of hunters and anglers in Kansas, but non-residents account for 60 percent of the revenue for license sales.
"What do you think?" Linda Craighead rhetorically asked onlookers at a hunting showcase recently at Horsethief Reservoir. "Should we invite a few more of them?"
Her words were greeted by a round of applause.
Craighead, assistant secretary for parks and tourism with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, also announced a marketing campaign aimed at out-of-state outdoor enthusiasts.
Craighead and KDWP&T Secretary Robin Jennison joined regional tourism representatives for a day-long event to discuss the economic benefits of hunting and fishing.
Craighead said hunting brings in $401 million in trip-related and equipment expenses annual, while fishing brings in more than $211 million.
Those are nearly identical to what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported more than a year ago.
FWS also reported wildlife watching -- primarily birdwatching -- adds more than $200 million in trip-related and equipment expenses.
KDWP&T didn't mention wildlife watching, instead spending all its time talking about activities that require hunting or fishing licenses.
Craighead also reported nonresident license sales amount to $10.7 million, producing 60 percent of all license revenue received by the agency.
Resident license sales contribute $7.8 million.
Horsethief Reservoir, incidentally, isn't one of the KDWP&T-managed lakes or parks, but Jennison said he has a long history with the location.
He also said Kansas is 47th in the nation in terms of the money spent on tourism.
"The immediate thinking is we need more money," he said. "But I don't think that's the answer."
Instead, Jennison said, the state needs a plan of action.
"I think we've got that plan now," he said.
That plan will include Kansas byways, now numbering 11.
"It gives us the opportunity to talk about Kansas," Jennison said.
But bigger than that, he said, is the image Kansans have about themselves.
"I can tell you that's about over," he said.
Craighead spent her time talking about what Kansas offers.
She heralded outdoor activities for bringing in "$600 million to the state of Kansas."
And the outlook remains bright.
"What I'm here to tell you is the forecast is great," she said. "We are one of the best places in the United States to hunt pheasants."
She didn't get into specifics, although a news release afterwards suggested "fall harvest will again be among the best in the country. Conditions throughout the spring and summer have reflected a statewide increase in summer brood counts by 70 percent."
"When it comes to waterfowl hunting, this is going to be one of the best places to hunt," she said.
Craighead also boasted Kansas isn't just a one-species state, but instead offers hunters a smorgasbord of wildlife to pursue, including turkey, pheasant, quail, waterfowl and big game.
The advertising campaign will be directed at non-residents and point to the agency's website.
"All of our ads are going to drive people there," she said of ksoutdoors.com.
She played portions of two advertisements.
Craighead also spoke of the flexibility Kansas offers hunters, from do-it-yourself hunts to guided hunts or services offered by controlled shooting areas.