Lake Oconee Breeze

Outdoors

September 13, 2012

Hunting and Fishing — American Traditions

LAKE OCONEE — National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) is Saturday, Sept. 22 and Georgia will celebrate that day along with the rest of the country in recognizing the truly American traditions of hunting and fishing. This year's honorary chair for the NHFD is NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.

This annual celebration creates a better public awareness of the important role that outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen have played in conservation and improvement of our national resources. President Theodore Roosevelt was one of those early conservationists who influenced many of our current fish and game laws.

During the 1960s, hunters and anglers began to see and embrace the new environmental awareness in the United States that indicated a need to protect vital resources but many people continued to misunderstand the role that sportsmen and sportswomen then played and continue to play in the conservation movement.

It took decades for populations of white-tailed deer, elk, wild turkey, wood ducks and many other species to recover from decades of unregulated exploitation. Sportsmen and sportswomen have worked countless hours to protect and improve millions of acres of vital habitat which includes lands and waters that everyone can enjoy.

The preservation of the nation's precious natural resources and the great American traditions of hunting and fishing are being challenged everyday by the changing world in which we live. Even natural disasters like hurricane Katrina and most recently hurricane Isaac have done damage to the Gulf Coast Region's vast and fragile ecosystem, and it will take many years and much money to recover.

Millions of America's hunters and anglers work each day to conserve, repair and improve our country's great natural resources. The U.S. Congress and President Nixon established NHFD thirty-four years ago to recognize hunters and anglers for the time and money they donate to wildlife conservation programs. Those contributions total more than a billion dollars annually.

More than 38 million Americans participate in hunting and fishing activities. Across our nation, anglers fish 557 million days each year. One quarter of all anglers are female. Anglers alone spend almost $300 million on ice and over $1 billion on bait!

Hunters spend 228 million days per year hunting and an average hunter spends over $1,600 each year on hunting. One of the growing activities is sport shooting and teenage girls are the fastest growing market for sport shooting. According to research, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago. Also 50 percent more women are now target shooting.

All these figures are quite amazing and they go to show the love for the outdoors tradition that anglers and hunters have in the United States. NHFD events are held each year with the idea of not only insuring a bright future for hunting, fishing and other outdoor events but to also recognize the past conservation efforts and achievements of American outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen.

In addition to special events all around the state of Georgia, a free fishing day is offered to all Georgia residents on Saturday, Sept. 22. On that day, residents do not need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and Public Fishing Areas (PFA). NHFD is also a great day to get children involved in the outdoors.

For additional information about NHFD and all NHFD scheduled events in Georgia, visit the NHFD website at www.nhfd.org and select “events”. Take advantage of all the events on this year's NHFD and join with other Americans in celebrating the great American outdoors and the traditions of hunting and fishing. See you next week.

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