The dual purpose of this national holiday is to celebrate our national hunting and fishing heritage and to educate the public about the conservation benefits of traditional outdoor sports. Though it may be surprising to some, hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation are not only interrelated, they are virtually synonymous, though that wasn’t always the case.
Prior to the turn of the 20th century regulated sport hunting and fishing and wildlife conservation were virtually non-existent. “Hunting” consisted largely of either subsistence hunting by those who depended on wild game for food, and market gunning by those who harvested game and re-sold it to restaurants and markets. Much the same was true for fishing. Some hunted and fished for sport, but even they had no bag limits, closed seasons or gear restrictions. As a result, many of our continent’s fish and wildlife species were in dire straits, some teetering perilously on the verge of extinction. At the same time unregulated development and pollution were despoiling valuable habitat, particularly wetlands and waterways.
It was the latter group, recreational hunters and fishermen who finally said, “enough,” and called upon local, state and federal governments to enact laws and impose restrictions to stem the wholesale commercial slaughter of fish and wildlife.
Under leaders like fellow sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt they united to promote the concept of conservation - wise use of sustainable fish and wildlife resources. They called for the creation of hunting and fishing licenses and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment, all to generate funds to support sound resource management.
Through closed seasons, bag limits, trap and transfer programs and conservative harvest they were able to bring many species back from the brink, and in some cases like deer and turkeys, to levels never before witnessed by modern man.
To this day, it is America’s hunters and fishermen who overwhelmingly foot the bill for the conservation not only of fish and game but of non-game, threatened and endangered species as well. In fact, the economic impact of hunters and fishermen is so significant that most state fish and wildlife agencies could not exist were it not for the license revenues and excise tax dollars generated from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment.
State fish and wildlife agencies, fish and game clubs, conservation organizations and the many supporters of National Hunting and Fishing Day around the country have all sorts of activities planned for September 25. For more information contact local groups or check out their website at www.nhfday.org And whether you ultimately participate or not, consider taking the time to thank those who make it all possible.
Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., is a proud sponsor of National Hunting and Fishing Day.