Photo: Sharing knowledge and skills, adult hunters can mentor youth or adults through natural resources agency-sponsored mentoring programs. Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated the fourth Saturday of every September, remains one of the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote the outdoor sports and conservation.
The best way to honor the legacy of America’s sportsmen and women is to introduce a young person to hunting or fishing. Check with your state fish and wildlife, conservation or natural resources department for events near you.
It doesn’t take an official event to make a difference in someone’s life and introduce them to hunting and fishing.
Parents who hunt and fish pass on the conservation legacy by taking their children hunting and fishing. Adult hunters can mentor a youth or another adult by simply inviting them on a hunting or fishing trip or by participating in a natural resource agency-sponsored mentoring program.
National, state and local organizations host hunting- and fishing-related public events in various locations, from shooting ranges and wildlife refuges to fish hatcheries and suburban frog ponds.
These events help nurture understanding and appreciation of conservation among diverse segments of our communities.
Before the idea of a national observance for hunting and fishing, hunters and anglers in the 1960s embraced the era’s heightened environmental awareness. However, they were discouraged because many people didn’t understand the crucial role sportsmen had played, and continue to play, in the conservation movement.
The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe’s idea and created Outdoor Sportsman’s Day in the state.
With determined prompting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the concept soon emerged on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills.
On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day, writing, “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.”
Sept. 28 is also National Public Lands Day.
Sharing the fourth Saturday in September is another national observance for the outdoors—National Public Lands Day.
It is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands, a day when thousands of volunteers assist with various projects throughout the nation designed to restore and enhance public parks, forests, waterways and more.
Sept. 28 has been designated a free entrance day for most national parks, monuments, recreation areas and other participating federal sites.
To find nearby National Public Lands day events, check out public events near you on the NPLD event map.
The observance is the work of the National Environmental Education Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, Congressionally chartered in 1990 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to complement the Environmental Protection Agency.
Resources—National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Environmental Education Foundation, and the National Hunting Fishing Day.