Tuesday, September 5, 2017
By Mark Carter
September's a big month in American culture: Labor Day bids a fond farewell to summer; its August legs firmly established, school cranks back up for real; football fills the weekend air not to mention the airwaves; and of course, dove season opens across the country signifying the launch of a new hunting season.
That alone makes it a big month for hunters, but later this month the country will celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 23 and National Public Lands Day on September 30, both federally recognized.
Schools and businesses won't close, but individual states are planning various events and activities, such as those planned in Maryland, to commemorate the occasions and underscore the importance of hunting and conservation.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, one the country's leading defenders of public lands and sportsmen's access to them, has designated September as National Public Lands Month.
“As hunting seasons begin across the country, American hunters and anglers everywhere are taking a moment to appreciate our public lands and the irreplaceable outdoor experiences they give us,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “As a way to honor those experiences – and to support what we believe in – we’re declaring September public lands month."
Modeled on a Pennsylvania practice, Congress established National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1971 to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in fish and wildlife conservation.
The fourth Saturday of each September is designated as NHF Day. This year's honorary chairman for NHF Day festivities in Springfield, Missouri, is NASCAR legend Richard Childress.
The NHF site provides some fascinating hunting facts that illustrate the impact of hunting not only on the American economy but also American culture:
- As of 2012, hunters and target shooters have paid more than $7.2 billion in excise taxes through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act since its passage in 1937.
- Sportsmen and women contribute nearly $8 million a day to support wildlife and wildlife agencies.
- An average hunter spends $2,484 every year on the sport.
- Teenage girls are the fastest growing market in sport shooting.
- According to research, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago. And 50 percent more women are now target shooting.
- Americans hunt a combined 282 million days per year. Thats an average of 21 days per hunter.
- More than 38 million Americans hunt and fish.
- Hunters and anglers support more than 680,000 US jobs.
- Through license sales and excise taxes on equipment, hunters and anglers pay for most fish and wildlife conservation programs.
- More Americans hunt and shoot than play baseball.
- Firearms are involved in less than 1% of all accidental fatalities. More Americans are killed in accidents involving vending machines than guns.
- Hunting gear sales are growing faster than all other sporting goods categories, with 38.3 billion spent in 2011.
- Americans annually buy more than 1 billion shotshells.
- Non-resident hunting license, tag, stamp and permit sales have risen 41.2 percent since 1993.
- Top selling sporting goods: 1.) exercise equipment, 2.) golf gear, 3.) hunting gear.
- Hunting overall brought in more revenue ($38.3 billion) than Google ($37.9 billion) or Goldman Sachs Group ($36.8 billion).
A boy on his first deer hunt with his uncle. (National Shooting Sports Foundation)
As part of the lead-up to NHF Day, hunters who pledge to take someone hunting, fishing or shooting this month could win an impressive cache of prizes.
Meanwhile, BHA's mission is to protect public land so sportsmen can continue to enjoy free access for hunting and other outdoor, recreational activities. It's devoting the entire month to celebrating public lands and waters.
“My best days, and our country’s best values, both are found within our vast public lands,” said BHA National Board Chairman Ryan Busse. “Our shared ownership of these places and our freedom to explore them is uniquely American. Once we set foot upon this birthright, wealth, status, race, color, creed and orientation melt away, and we become one with our great country – on the same footing with every other citizen and inferior to none. There is no other equalizer like it on our planet.”
Check out BHA's Public Lands Month video below: