Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Friday, September 21, 2012

National Hunting & Fishing Day; There's a Lot to Celebrate

There’s nothing like the anticipation of Christmas morning…or is there? Ask a hunter or angler what it feels like waking up to opening day of a new season and there you have it. September 27, 2014 marks the 42nd anniversary of National Hunting and Fishing Day. Okay, it’s not Christmas morning or Opening Day, but there’s still plenty to celebrate and there’s some history worth learning too.

A gun shop owner in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania was first to suggest an official designation. In 1970, Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer agreed and created “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day.” The following summer, Senator Thomas McIntyre of New Hampshire introduced a resolution authorizing the fourth Saturday of every September as National Hunting and Fishing Day. Representative Bob Sikes of Florida followed suit in the House. Congress unanimously passed both bills in 1972 and President Richard Nixon signed it into law on May 2, 1972. By later that same summer, all 50 governors proclaimed state versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day. Going back even further in time reveals when the real conservation effort began.
Teddy Roosevelt (center)
It was more than 100 years ago that hunters and anglers raised their voices to support conservation and wildlife. Led by President Theodore Roosevelt, a sportsman himself, early conservationists recognized that wildlife belonged to all people but needed to be managed. Those ideals later became known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. They also called for laws to restrict the commercial slaughter of wildlife and lobbied for self-imposed taxes on sporting equipment to provide funding for state wildlife conservation agencies.

Struggling populations of elk, deer, turkeys, ducks and other species—some near extinction—rebounded. Funds started to pour in for wildlife management and land conservation. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So hit the nearest stream or lake, head to the prairies or mountains or take a walk, hike or canoe in the great outdoors. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation maintains that there is plenty to celebrate, but not just on National Hunting and Fishing Day. As hunters and anglers, ours should be a year-long celebration of a wildlife conservation movement our ancestors created and we continue to enhance.
To find out what’s going on to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day near you, go here.

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