STORIES THE VIEW UPSTREAM By: Keith ''Catfish'' Sutton National Hunting and Fishing Day is Coming September 22 National Hunting and Fishing Day is a public reminder of hunters and anglers conservation efforts Since 1972, we've had a special day each year to celebrate hunters' and anglers' important contributions to nationwide conservation programs. (Photo courtesy of Keith ''Catfish'' Sutton) One of the great annual traditions in the outdoors, National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day), is set for Saturday, September 22. NHF Day brings together sportsmen and women to celebrate the rich tradition of fishing and hunting with national, state, regional and local organizations hosting fishing- and hunting-related events. The event also serves as a public reminder that hunters and anglers are America’s premier conservation supporters. Hunters and anglers do many things for conservation. They volunteer for work projects like outdoor clean-up days. They help biologists develop water sources for wildlife. They teach hunter-education classes, and lots, lots more. But when you get right down to it, their most important contribution is cash, and lots of it. Can you guess how much? The annual total is $1.75 billion – that’s billion with a B – and hunters and anglers pay it in two primary ways. The first is the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Second, there’s a special excise tax of 10 to 11 percent on new firearms and ammunition, bows and arrows and rods and reels. The neat thing about these licenses and taxes is that hunters and anglers asked for them. They actually volunteered to pay for managing and conserving our outdoors. When’s the last time you heard of someone asking to be licensed and taxed? All that money goes to conservation agencies in each state. Those agencies are responsible for managing wildlife, fish and habitat, and keeping those resources in top shape. National Hunting and Fishing Day was founded to recognize those important contributions. The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. 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 of New Hampshire introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Representative Bob Sikes of Florida introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills. On May 2, 1972, President Richard 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.” By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The response was dramatic. National, regional, state and local organizations staged some 3,000 hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges to suburban fishing ponds, providing an estimated 4 million Americans with a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor sports. Over the years, National Hunting and Fishing Day boasted many more public relations successes, assisted by celebrities who volunteered to help spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women. Honorary chairs have included Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Ron Guidry, George Bush, Tom Seaver, Hank Williams Jr., Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, George Brett, Robert Urich, Ward Burton, Louise Mandrell, Travis Tritt, Wade Boggs, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Dance, NASCAR racing celebrity Richard Childress and other sports and entertainment figures. The honorary chairman for 2018 is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt began his racing career in 1999 and amassed 26 victories, including two Daytona 500 crowns and two championships, before retiring from driving last year. The third generation NASCAR driver is one of the sport’s most beloved drivers, as race fans selected him a record 15 consecutive times as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. Earnhardt is also an active contributor to youth-oriented charities and non-profit organizations. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as honorary chair for National Hunting and Fishing Day,” said Earnhardt. “It’s our duty as outdoorsmen and women to introduce someone to the outdoors so they too understand how our activities help fund and drive conservation. I encourage anyone who goes outdoors to take someone with them on National Hunting and Fishing Day.” National Hunting and Fishing Day remains the most effective grassroots effort ever undertaken to promote outdoor sports and conservation. And when this year’s event begins, here are five great ways to observe this important occasion: Introduce a newcomer to the outdoors. Take a youngster on their first fishing or hunting trip, or invite a friend or family member who has never had an opportunity to hunt or fish to join you for a day outdoors. Visit your sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it. Organize, volunteer or attend a National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration in your area. Many event listings are posted at www.nhfday.org. Remember those whose service to our country will prevent them from joining us afield this fall. Appreciate the freedoms that make hunting, fishing, shooting and conservation possible. Log on to www.nhfday.org to learn more about the historic conservation leadership of hunters and anglers. Share the story with non-hunters. National Hunting and Fishing Day has an official home and national coordinator in Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. This Springfield, Missouri, facility develops communications campaigns, event-planning tips, promotional items and free online tools to help build public appreciation for hunters, anglers and shooters. Learn more at www.nhfday.org.