Dale Earnhardt Jr. rose to fame on the NASCAR circuit by driving circles around the competition, but he’s just as comfortable in a treestand as he is behind the wheel. He also makes time to go hunting despite his busy racing schedule, earning the honor of becoming honorary chair of the 2018 National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, Sept. 22.
The NHFD takes place each year on the fourth Saturday in September, as designated by President Nixon in 1972. The event encourages outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to try hunting and fishing, which promotes fish and wildlife conservation. The event also supports the National Archery in the Schools Program.
Earnhardt fell in love with hunting about seven years ago, and hunts often in Ohio on land he bought with fellow NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. While growing up, “Junior” didn’t share his famous father’s hunting passions.
In an Instagram post Nov. 25, 2017, Earnhardt wrote: “My dad loved hunting. I wasn’t a big fan. Half the time I’d freeze and watch the time, waiting for it to be over. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to really enjoy it. Not only the actual hunt. I’ve not harvested a deer in a few years. I love hunting with friends and family. Beers around a campfire. Managing the land, herd, and food plots. Learning the habits and movements of the deer. I’m even a partner in a camo company called @truetimbercamo. I never imagined obsessing over it like my father (did), but I believe I am on my way.”
Earnhardt now appreciates hunting on a deeper level. An UPROXX article explained that growing awareness: “It’s not the act of hunting itself with which Earnhardt finds satisfaction. He doesn’t love the final shot or processing deer. Instead, it’s everything leading up to it that he enjoys most. The planning. The preparation. The plotting. The mapping. Watching the deer’s patterns. The process itself and the discovery of knowledge is the joy for Dale, and the camaraderie is just an added bonus.”
Earnhardt field dressed a deer for the first time last fall during the Thanksgiving holiday. During a podcast on the Dale Jr. Download, Earnhardt described the moment he saw the buck: “I hadn’t been in the (tree) stand for an hour, and this buck walked out, and I got a look at him and decided that would be what I want to mount. I had never gutted a deer before. That was pretty interesting.”
On another podcast, he talked about bagging his first turkey in May 2017. His hunting party left the cabin early that morning, and Earnhardt saw turkeys flying off their roosts in the trees. He couldn’t believe how much noise they made.
L.W. Miller, an experienced turkey hunter and member of the hunting party, compared the commotion to “taking a 55‐gallon trash bag and flopping it around in the wind.” Although Earnhardt had hunted plenty of deer by that time, turkey hunting was still mostly uncharted territory.
Earnhardt said that although he enjoys hunting, he’s still not a big fan of waking up before the sun. Maybe he’ll soon develop a love for those early-morning wake-ups, too.
Meanwhile, Earnhardt’s love of hunting, and his appreciation for the science and natural resources that make hunting possible, make him a great fit for hunting and fishing’s special day of recognition. This annual event celebrates the ethical use of natural resources, the joy of outdoor sports, and the importance of conservation.
It’s nice to have someone who represents those ideals helping out on National Hunting and Fishing Day. We look forward to the excitement the day brings, and feel confident Earnhardt will represent hunters and anglers well as the event’s honorary chair.