Holiday boon for outdoorsmen

Saturday is a holiday of sorts for America’s hunters, fishermen and recreational shooters. It’s National Hunting and Fishing Day, a day set aside to recognize the contributions hunters, anglers and recreational shooters have made to America’s conservation movement.

While plenty of so-called conservation organizations are taking bows for doing such important work as organizing protests and walking down busy New York streets in their birthday suits, hunters, anglers and recreational shooters have provided the leadership and the funding for on-the-ground conservation efforts. These efforts began more than 100 years ago with people such as President Theodore Roosevelt, who was well known for his hunting exploits and dedication to conservation of America’s natural resources.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “America’s first environmentalists — hunters and outdoorsmen — established the conservation tradition in our nation. These early environmentalists warned that the population growth and industrial development that offered prosperity for our nation also created serious threats to the future of our wildlife resources.”

Hunter-conservationists led the charge in creating the nation’s first laws that restricted the commercial killing of wildlife. They also called for the creation of a wildlife management system that is based on sustainable use of fish and game animals and urged passage of laws that established the use of hunting and fishing license, and created bag limits. In Nevada, the money we pay for these licenses provides much of the funding the state’s wildlife department needs to cover its operating expenses.

In 1937, hunters lobbied for taxes on sporting arms and ammunition that would provide additional funding for state fish and game agencies. A tax was created with the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.

“Through license fees and special excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, they currently contribute more than $4.7 million each day for the benefit of wildlife,” the NSSF notes.

That figure doesn’t include the funding provided by organizations such as Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, for habitat restoration and protection. To date, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 12.5 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

So how can you celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day? Why not spend a day in the field or on the water. Saturday is opening day of the 2011 duck season in the Northeastern Zone, comprised of Elko and White Pine counties. This zone was created to give hunters the opportunity to hunt in this part of the state before waters in the area freeze over.

You also can spend Saturday introducing a youngster to hunting sports by taking him or her out for the youth upland game hunt. The hunt is open to youths 15 years old and younger, but an adult who is at least 18 must accompany them. Since the adult can’t hunt, he can concentrate on helping the youth find success. Chukar, quail and rabbits are on the menu.

Still another opportunity for celebrating can be found at the Trapper Education Day hosted by the Nevada Trappers Association at the Sawmill Trailhead area off Lee Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. Participants will learn about traps, trapping techniques and fur care. The event begins at 7:30 a.m. with a free breakfast.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at

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