National Hunting and Fishing Day -- do you approve of this celebration?
In the extended-entry field below is President Obama's official proclamation.
The first such proclamation was made in 1972 by President Nixon, who said: "I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in inspiring their proper management for the benefit of future generations."
In Obama's version are these words: "If not for America's great hunters and anglers, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not enjoy sound game management; a system of ethical, science-based game laws; and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue these sports."
The landscape has changed vastly since Roosevelt's time, to be sure. Obama must have known he'd wind up in the cross hairs of critics who don't hunt or fish, and who oppose both pastimes on mere principle.
In an L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blog post, for example, it was pointed out that Obama's proclamation was being issued "on the eve of that special season when so many Americans blast migrating ducks out of the sky and blow large holes in the side of fleeing deer."
The words of an anti-hunter are often harsh. But the truth is, hunters and fishermen are closer to the Earth and place more value on the environment than most of their critics. And they contribute more toward conservation.
Ducks Unlimited, to cite one example, is the world's leader in waterfowl and wetlands conservation. Simply, there would not be nearly as many ducks filling our flyways were it not for this organization. Trout Unlimited, likewise, has done more to conserve fisheries than any animal rights group that I know of.
As for wildlife management, states accomplish this via hunting, and as of yet nobody has come up with a better means of controlling animal populations -- a necessity in an age when civilization is increasingly encroaching into wilderness.
Hunting and fishing, additionally, are an economic force worth billions annually. Much of the money spent by hunters and anglers is used toward conservation of wildlife and fisheries. National Hunting and Fishing Day is about recognizing these contributions and more; it's about traditions dating to our ancestors.
So I'll venture out Saturday in support. I hope I catch some fish but that will be secondary to the fact that I'll be among the conifers and critters, far from the bustle and grind. That's what fishing means to me.
Here is the president's proclamation:
NATIONAL HUNTING AND FISHING DAY, 2009
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
From atop Pikes Peak to the shores of the James River, Americans celebrate the great abundance and utility of our natural resources. Since our Nation's founding, hunters and anglers have cherished these unparalleled natural gifts and marveled at their untamed beauty. National Hunting and Fishing Day recognizes the contributions of millions of Americans who continue to engage in these ageless pursuits.
As our citizens continue to enjoy our Nation's natural resources, we must remember that this privilege brings great responsibility. Not long ago, hunting threatened the extinction of the American Bison, an enduring symbol of the American West. Today, their population has recovered because of the cooperative efforts of conservationists and hunters. Many species, however, still require our protection. We can no longer look to our wilderness, as some once did, as land full of unlimited bounty and surplus. Recognizing the need for conservation, our hunters and anglers have worked hard to manage local ecosystems where wildlife remain, as well as to protect those areas where they are slowly re-establishing viable populations.
Our national character, always evolving, finds its foundation in those timeless American ideals of freedom, fairness, and self-sustainability. Today's hunters and anglers bring this spirit to life in the forests and streams they visit. If not for America's great hunters and anglers, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our Nation would not enjoy sound game management; a system of ethical, science-based game laws; and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sports. On National Hunting and Fishing Day, we celebrate their contributions to our natural environment and our national heritage.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 26, 2009, as National Hunting and Fishing Day. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize this day with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
Top photo: An angler casts a fly into the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra. Credit: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: A hunter and his dog are poised for the first flight of doves in the Imperial Valley. Credit: George Wilhelm/Los Angeles Times