On May 2, 1972, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the first National Hunting and Fishing Day, saying, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.” For more than 50 years now, the fourth Saturday of September has been designated National Hunting and Fishing Day.
National Hunting and Fishing Day not only celebrates our rich outdoor heritage; it’s also a way to introduce prospective hunters and anglers to conservation principles and our outdoor hobbies.
The Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, is the official home of National Hunting and Fishing Day, but the best way to get involved in the celebration is at the local level. Check with your local conservation club or archery range to learn whether there are any local events to commemorate the day, and if not, consider creating one in the future. If there are no local events in your area, you can probably find something at the statewide level.
Many states waive the requirements for hunting and fishing licenses or state park passes on that day, but check your state’s regulations. In Georgia and New York, for example, residents don’t need a fishing license to fish on Sept. 23 this year. To learn about your state’s rules and National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrations, check with your state department of natural resources or conservation.
Some areas have truly embraced the celebration. For example, Southern Illinois Hunting
and Fishing Days claims to be the largest such celebration in the country. The two-day event attracts 35,000 sportsmen and women annually with food, vendors and outdoor activities such as ax throwing, dog agility contests, fish and wildlife displays, a fish story competition and much more.
But you don’t need to attract thousands of people to pull off a successful event. Small, intimate events that teach archery shooting, BB gun shooting and hunter safety in a hands-on, supervised environment are great ways to teach kids and would-be adult hunters to enjoy the outdoors. It’s not hard to pull off a successful event. See if you can use your archery league or conservation club grounds to host and enlist club members to help. Ask local sporting-goods or other businesses to donate prizes. Consider inviting local scout groups, your local 4-H or other outdoor-minded youth groups to participate. Get the word out in the schools. Play outdoor-themed games, maybe rent a mobile trout pond, give out prizes and keep it fun and hands on!
National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates our sound conservation principles and our outdoor activities. With your help, we can shape the next generation of outdoorsmen and women to carry on the tradition.
Visit this site to see just a few of the events being held around the country.