Join the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission this National Hunting and Fishing Day, Sept. 24, and help spread the joy of the outdoors to a new group of enthusiasts.
National Hunting and Fishing Day is a special day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in conserving America’s wildlife and wild places. First endorsed by Congress in 1971, this annual celebration has been one of the many ways conservation agencies strengthen their partnership with the public in the continued effort to promote wildlife populations and the ethical pursuit of game species for the benefit of all.
Unlike systems in which wildlife is owned by individuals who own the land, the North American Model of Conservation observes that wildlife are a public resource available to all. However, there must be a governing agency to ensure wildlife does not face the catastrophic declines seen at the turn of the 20th century. The funding for those agencies is based on hunting and fishing license sales and on excise taxes placed on hunting, fishing and shooting equipment gathered by the federal government and distributed to states according to the users who purchase those licenses and the size of the state. Thanks to this model of conservation funding, every new angler and hunter added to the fold increases the benefits all outdoors enthusiasts enjoy.
Here are a few great ways to celebrate the outdoors and maybe welcome a new hunter or angler to the outdoors this Saturday:
Participate in the AGFC’s Marksmanship Challenge
Seven of the AGFC’s 10 nature centers will hold a special event testing the shooting skills of youths from grades 1 through 12 in five outdoors disciplines. Participants will cast a fishing rod, shoot BB guns, use slingshots, shoot field archery targets and tackle more lifelike 3D target archery from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at each participating nature center. Medals will be awarded for the top three shooters at each center in one of four age categories. The top overall scorers will receive a special prize package, courtesy of Daisy BB guns. Visit www.agfc.com/en/education/calendar/annual-event/national-hunting-and-fishing-day-2022/ for more information.
Catch a fish for conservation
The AGFC also has a lineup of excellent Fishing 101 classes and fishing derbies that may just hook an interested angler or two. Catfish are being stocked in Family and Community Fishing Program locations throughout the state, and these derbies and classes are a great way to get the feel for fishing on small waters with little to no experience. Anglers participating in derbies should bring their own chairs, rods and bait, but the fish should be ready to bite after being stocked this week from one of the AGFC’s hatcheries. Visit www.agfc.com/en/education/calendar/annual-event/national-hunting-and-fishing-day-2022/ for more information.
Climb a tree with purpose
Although archery hunters have already been chasing bears for a week in northwest Arkansas and have been sweating it out after some early deer opportunities in urban hunting opportunities, Arkansas’s statewide opening day of archery deer season is Sept. 24. Get out for an early morning sit or a late evening hunt and bring someone along to unplug from the electronics for a relaxing day in the deer stand.
Collect some Arkansas nutcrackers
Arkansas’s squirrel season has been open all summer, but now is the real kickoff to squirrel season. Keep an eye out for hickory trees that have produced a decent crop of nuts, as they are favorite food sources for squirrels. Chasing squirrels is an easy, inexpensive way to get started hunting. Squirrels also can be prepared a number of ways to make some delicious meals. All you need to get started is some bug spray, camouflage clothing and an affordable .22 rimfire or shotgun loaded with No. 6 shotshells. Check out https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/small-game/squirrel/ for season dates and some basic information on bagging bushytails in The Natural State.
Float your cares away
Take a weekend float on one of the AGFC’s Arkansas Water Trails, and bring along a fishing rod. The cool weather will help keep mosquitoes at bay and makes it easy to grab a paddle and a friend for a quick, comfortable introduction into paddling. Kayaks and canoes are relatively inexpensive and can be loaded onto practically any vehicle to get to some destinations the big boats can’t reach.