It's that time of the year again. With the changing of the leaves, comes the gathering of hunters for a national pastime. Hunting is more than just a time-honored tradition in North Dakota, it's part of our heritage. Hunting also provides an economic boom to the entire state of North Dakota, which often goes unnoticed.

As president of the North Dakota Petroleum Marketers and North Dakota Retailers Associations, I hear and see firsthand the economic benefits hunting brings to every corner of our state. Each fall, North Dakota gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, hotels and other small businesses see a boost in sales throughout North Dakota thanks to the hunting season. Some of our small towns rely heavily on this increased traffic each year. Call it their Christmas shopping season, if you will. Hunters purchase gas, meals, and equipment on their trips. Each of these purchases means a great deal to the retailer's bottom line.

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Altogether, hunting has a $199 million ripple effect on our state's economy. Increased commerce means that small businesses can afford to hire additional help, which further spurs economic growth. The money that hunters funnel into our economy, in addition to $18.8 million in state and local taxes they provide, makes the hunting industry invaluable to all North Dakota residents.

As you see hunters heading into the fields this fall, remember that hunting isn't just a fun pastime, it a key cog in North Dakota's economy. That's why retailers across the state roll out the red carpet for our friends from across the state and nation. We are proving hunting does work for North Dakota.

Be safe and enjoy North Dakota's great outdoors.

Rud lives in Bismarck.