Usually, it’s not advisable to mix booze and guns, but that’s exactly what Busch beer is doing with its latest charity effort. To be fair, they are video game guns, and the effort is about saving wildlife, not killing it.
Hunting permits help raise money for conservation efforts, but the number of hunters in the U.S. is expected to decline rapidly over the next decade. So Busch is tapping into a barroom approximation that requires less skill, effort, or sobriety to mitigate the problem. From now until December 2019, anyone over the age of 21 can go online to purchase a special Big Buck Hunter permit for five dollars. That money, plus a five-dollar match from Busch beer, will go to the National Forest Foundation to help protect and preserve the country’s forests.
No bucks will be harmed, because Big Buck Hunter is an arcade game and a staple at many watering holes where Busch is a big seller. When swiped, these permits allow holders to unlock a special “Great White Buck” level. For each of those beasts shot, the player gets a chance to win his or her own arcade game.
There are other ways to raise cash too. Busch is selling special cans to help advertise the promotion in packs that offer buyers a chance to play a similar augmented reality game. Every time someone posts a score to Twitter, the company will donate another dollar.
Annually, $3.3 billion or 59% of America conservation funding revenue is raised through hunting and fishing activities. Hunting permits play a large part, as do excise taxes on guns, ammo, and angling equipment. But with hunters aging and fewer people interested in taking up the sport, no one is quite sure how fast that money will disappear—and at a time when the Trump administration is rolling back conservation efforts on a massive scale.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has even issued a dire warning. According to its report:
“Without a change in the way we finance fish and wildlife conservation, we can expect the list of federally threatened and endangered species to grow from nearly 1,600 species today to perhaps thousands more in the future.”
In this case, Busch’s own contributions will be limited. The promotion caps both the company’s Big Buck Hunter permit-match and score-sharing contributions at $25,000 each in maximum donations.
Raising awareness about that problem is important. This is also exactly the sort of philanthropic stunt the company has become known for. Other recent gimmicks include recycling several NASCAR racecars into collectible beer cans (to support antilittering efforts) and hosting a treasure hunt to find its outdoor pop-up shop (in support of tree planting).