Sep 21, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti shared good news last week of a nine percent increase in participation in hunting and fishing from 2006 to 2011 based on new data from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The announcement is appropriate leading into the celebration this weekend of National Hunting & Fishing Day. Yes, hunters and fisherman … tomorrow is your day. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. Practice what we preach by making a special effort to introduce newcomers to the outdoor activities, and explain the importance of hunting in our culture to youth and non-hunters. Remember hunters and target shooters pay for the bulk of conservation in America, without purchases of hunting licenses, firearms and ammunition, we’d have little wildlife and no place for it to live. You paid for that, you can be proud.
National Hunting and Fishing Day has been celebrated each year since 1971when it was established by an act of the U.S. Congress. Some of us remember that first 41 years ago, though we might not care to admit it! It has been formally proclaimed by every U.S. President since then.
Each year, National Hunting & Fishing Day has a celebrity chairman. This time its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver/owner Tony Steward. As the driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Stewart has won 12 driving championships, including three SprintCup Series titles, in a career spanning more than three decades.
Stewart is a champion off the racetrack as much as he is on, and has been recognized for his philanthropic efforts via his Tony Stewart Foundation, which raises funds for distribution to three specific groups – chronically ill children, drivers injured in motorsports activities, and organizations dedicated to the protection of various animal species.
Stewart joins an elite fraternity of entertainment and sports figures that have served as honorary chairs, including Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy, Jay Novacek, Robert Urich, Wade Boggs, Ward Burton, Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, the USA Olympic Shooting Team and many others.
“It’s a pleasure to be this year’s honorary chairman of National Hunting and Fishing Day,” Stewart said. “I love the outdoors and everything that goes into maintaining the outdoors. Nurturing the land is as satisfying for me as hunting and fishing.”
Stewart is one of America’s 34 million hunters and anglers. Together, their licenses, permits and special taxes contribute more than $4.7 million each day for fish, wildlife and habitat programs. No one contributes more for conservation. The growing list of sponsors for National Hunting and Fishing Day 2012 includes Wonders of Wildlife, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, Sportsman Channel, Realtree, GunBroker.com, Pope and Young, Ducks Unlimited, Smith & Wesson and Yamaha.
(The image at the lead of this blog is courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation photography archive.)
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