Gone Fishin'—and Huntin'!

How will you celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day?

by posted on September 22, 2023
Rao National Hunting Fishing Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF) occurs each year on the fourth Saturday of September, after a proclamation was signed by Richard M. Nixon on May 2, 1972. On the day of its signing, President Nixon declared, "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."

National Hunting and Fishing Day acknowledges and celebrates generations of sportsmen and women for their impact to the conservation efforts of our country’s outdoor heritage. The goals of NHF Day are to increase the number of hunters and anglers in these activities, and to increase the public’s awareness between hunting and fishing and conservation.

More than 50 million people go fishing every year. Fishing dates back hundreds of thousands of years from the earliest humans, and was even chronicled by the apostles in the bible. Fishing has also been immortalized by famous authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark. Fishing, without a doubt, is one of the most popular outdoor activities.

Fishing is a great way to spend time with family and friends. I have never seen an unhappy or bored kid when he or she is fishing with a parent. It's an easy-to-learn activity, and inexpensive compared to many other outdoor activities. Fishing is very exciting when the fish are biting, but even when they are not, there is great anticipation with every cast.

But before heading to the water, you must prepare by doing a few things. First, obtain a valid fishing license for the location you plan to fish. Then become familiar with the laws, regulations and proclamations relating to the type of fishing you are pursuing. This includes rod and reel, archery or bowfishing, noodling and spear fishing. Next, obtain the proper and legal fishing gear, and make sure the equipment and gear has the ability to handle the type of fish you are after.

Lastly, take a fishing course. Most states have a free or minimal cost fishing course offered by their state’s game and fish department. Texas has an Angler Education program that is administered by volunteers and over seen by a coordinator. Fishing courses answer many questions for beginners, as well as teach students how to fish for local species.

Hunting is part of our American heritage. Many hunting skills are passed down from generation to generation. Hunting is oftentimes introduced by family and friends. You do not have to come from a hunting family or know others that come from one. You can start a lifetime of hunting enjoyment on your own.

Regardless of your hunting experience, you should take a state certified Hunter Education course. A valid Hunter Education ourse taken in any state is valid in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa and many other countries. Most countries that require a Hunter Education certificate will accept one from any jurisdiction.

Next, purchase a valid hunting license for the location you will be hunting. In addition, depending on what you are hunting, you may have to purchase stamps or endorsements. For example, if you are hunting waterfowl in the United States and are 16 years of age or older, you are required to obtain a Federal Waterfowl Stamp, commonly known as a “Duck Stamp.”  Additionally, if you are hunting waterfowl or any other migratory bird in Texas, you also need a Texas Migratory Game Bird Endorsement. It is important to remember that in many states and countries, a Hunter Education Certificate is required before a hunting license can be purchased.

Hunting as a management tool has been used for hundreds of years. Game bag and possession limits are used to maintain these numbers. Wildlife biologists, managers and state fish and wildlife agencies set these bag and possession limits by looking at previous years and studying success rates. The number of hunters who purchased licenses and reported their numbers in their bag while pursuing game are also taken into account.  

Regardless of how the anti-hunters and anti-fishers feel about hunting, fishing and the harvesting of animals associated with these two activities, these two sports are the best way to keep the animals and fish at healthy populations.

A great example of one of the anti’s wins that have hurt animals is their victory over trapping. Trapping is a very effective way of keeping furbearing animal populations in balance. But the anti-trapping war has and continues to be very effective. Fur-bearing animals cause millions of dollars of damage each year to farmers, ranchers and homeowners. As a result, thousands of raccoons, foxes and bobcats are killed every year under nuisance animal laws. When an animal is killed under the nuisance laws the furs cannot be retained, and go to waste.

National Hunting and Fishing Day also includes the “shooting sports,” a collective term for competition or recreational activities having to do with shotguns, rifles and pistols. The term shooting sports is usually connected to shotgun “games” including trap, skeet, 5-stand and sporting clays, to name a few.

If the shooting sports interest you, it is your responsibility to take an NRA Firearms Training course in the discipline in which you are engaged. These can include popular courses like NRA Basic Shotgun, NRA Basic Rifle or NRA Basic Pistol. These courses teach the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for the proper and safe use of these firearms. I train many competitive shooters and when the class is finished, without exception, they tell me they are more knowledgeable and shoot better than before the course.

Now is the time to start planning your outdoor adventure. Whether it is fishing, hunting or engaging in the shooting sports, do your research and start gathering your gear and proper licenses necessary, especially if you have not participated in these activities for a while.

Thanks to self-imposed fees and excise taxes on certain and specific sporting equipment, sportsmen and women have raised more than $57 billion, which equates to more than $100,000 every 30 minutes being raised for conservation! NHF Day is the largest, most effective grassroots movement ever undertaken to promote outdoor sports and conservation.

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