With hunting seasons opening up and fishing going strong, more than 34 million outdoorsmen and women will be keeping the unique American conservation system strong by raising $100,000 every 30 minutes through self-imposed fees and excise taxes. The 48th annual celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day serves as a reminder to the public that wildlife and wild places exist today thanks to the ongoing leadership and funding from hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.

National Hunting and Fishing Day was formalized by Congress in 1971 to convey the message of American conservation succeeding because of hunters and anglers. NHF Day is recognized on the fourth Saturday of every September. This year Hunting and Fishing Day will be observed on Sept. 28.

Country music stars Luke Bryan and Chris Janson will serve as honorary co-chairs for this 48th annual celebration. Bryan has sold more than 7 million albums worldwide. Janson is the youngest living member to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and has produced three top-10 hits including “Buy Me a Boat.” Both men are avid outdoorsmen. They will join forces this year to reach more people than ever with NHF Day's inspiring mission.

National Hunting and Fishing Day was declared so America would not forget a few things. First, organizers wanted people to remember fish and wildlife were not always as abundant as they are today. Second, fish and wildlife can be restored with proper management. Third, America's hunters and anglers were the first to take the challenge and begin wildlife restoration efforts in the country and they have paid a disproportionate share of the cost. Fourth, without hunting and fishing, the nation's fish and wildlife likely would revert to the bad old days.

By the early 1970s when the anti-hunting movement grew more active, conservation leaders begin to realize people were not aware of the invaluable financial contributions of sportsmen to wildlife restoration. Many sportsmen were not even aware of the fact. Also not well known was sportsmen's leadership in enacting needed legislation at the state and federal level to conserve fish and wildlife and restore habitats, so National Hunting and Fishing Day was conceived by organizations that endorse hunting and fishing responsibly.

Governors of all 50 states have endorsed NHF Day by proclamation and thousands of groups participate each year. NHF Day is fast approaching and should be a memorable and enjoyable one for all outdoorsmen and women in Missouri. Wildlife clubs, state wildlife management agencies and other interested outdoor groups will organize exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on learning experiences which should entice old-timers and novices alike.

NHF Day offers an effort to promote better understanding of and more active participation in the hunting, fishing and shooting sports we enjoy today.

White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in sports as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly.

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