John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
It's a proven fact that among the top-selling sporting goods items is hunting gear, ranked third behind golf gear and exercise equipment, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. It's also proven that an average hunter spends over $2,000 every year on hunting and fishing. Think it's quite popular? You thought right.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated annually on the fourth Saturday of September, specifically to be celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 22, remains one of the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote outdoor sports and conservation.
According to nhfday.org, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. They were the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species.
President Theodore Roosevelt led a group of conservationists in an effort to restrict commercial slaughter of wildlife. Over the years, funds were contributed for conservation, the heightened environmental awareness was embraced and, in June of 1971, Joint Resolution 117 authorized National Hunting and Fishing Day to be recognized.
The next year, on May 2, 1972, according to nhfday.org, the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day was signed by President Richard Nixon, urging "all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in ensuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations."
Over the years, National Hunting and Fishing Day has boasted multiple public relations successes, assisted by celebrities who have volunteered to help spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women. Among the honorary chairs has been President George Bush; Hank Williams Jr., musician; Arnold Palmer, professional golfer; and Terry Bradshaw, professional football player. This year's honorary chair is former NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
For more information about National Hunting and Fishing Day and to learn more about hunting and fishing in general, log onto nhfday.org.