In case you missed it, Saturday was National Hunting and Fishing Day, an annual celebration of America’s hunting and fishing traditions that was first made official by President Richard Nixon in May 1972.
The day is more than a celebration of tradition, it’s also an expression of thanks.
Here in Nevada, Governor Brian Sandoval issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 22 as National Hunting and Fishing Day. Among the paragraphs that all begin with the word “Whereas,” the proclamation acknowledges that “Nevada has a rich and storied tradition of hunting and angling, that dates back further than the state itself…”
The proclamation also recognizes that “Nevada’s sportsmen and women were among the first conservationists to conserve fish, wildlife and their habitat, and through their State license fees helped fund efforts to provide for healthy and sustainable natural resources…last year alone, Nevada’s sportsmen and women generated $28.16 million through the American System of Conservation Funding to support the conservation efforts of the Nevada Department of Wildlife…”
According to the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service website, hunters and recreational target shooters have contributed nearly $12 billion toward conservation since 1939 and anglers another $9 billion since 1952. But those figures don’t include the money sportsmen and women pay for hunting or fishing licenses, big game tags, stamps and other associated documents.
In its 2018 report, “America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy,” the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation (CSF) states, “In all, 53.4 million people take part in recreational fishing, hunting and target shooting each year, spending over a billion combined days pursuing these activities. That is a lot of time outdoors, and participants range from those who maybe only hunt, fish or shoot a few times a year, to avid enthusiasts who head out at every possible chance to pursue the sports they love.”
A billion days in the field is nothing to sneeze at. Sportsmen and women “…also benefit local, state and even the national economies. With millions of Americans calling themselves sportsmen and women, $93.7 billion was spent in 2016 on gear, motorboat fuel, licenses, travel, clothing and more,” notes the CSF report.
These significant contributions to conservation and the economy were not missed by Ira Joffe, then the owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. He was the first to suggest creation of an official day to recognize the leadership role of sportsmen and women in America’s growing conservation movement. A suggestion made nearly 50 years ago.
In 1970, Joffe’s idea was adopted by Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer who led the efforts to create “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day” in the state. Two years later, Congress passed a pair of bills that established National Hunting and Fishing Day and appointed the fourth Saturday of every September as that day.
According to the official National Hunting and Fishing Day website, when Pres. Nixon signed the first proclamation for the day of celebration, he issued an invitation to all Americans when he wrote, “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.”
I see no reason why that invitation would no longer apply.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .