Quick: What weekend sporting event in the area will attracts a crowd of almost 500,000 this weekend?

If you answered the Missouri deer and the Kansas pheasant openers, you win.

Many who are passionate about the ball sports have no idea how much of a following these traditional hunts have in Mid-America.

As many as 400,000 hunters are expected to be in the woods Saturday when the Missouri firearms deer season opens. And another 40,000 to 50,000 are anticipated the same day for the Kansas pheasant opener.

That’s a lot of orange (the safety clothing hunters wear).

That’s also a lot of money.

In Missouri, deer hunters have a total economic impact of $765 annually, according to the latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

In Kansas, hunters pump $400 million into the economy. A good part of that is from deer hunters, but the pheasant season also contributes greatly.

Ask residents of small towns such as Warsaw in Missouri or Beloit in Kansas. Business is booming on opening weekend.

Motels often flash “No Vacancy” signs, country cafes are bustling in the early-morning hours, and convenience stores are hopping.

Yeah, hunting traditions still have deep roots in Mid-America. And they continue to be an economic driver in Smalltown, USA.