National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday and I'll celebrate by stalking trout on the shores of some Eastern Sierra creek. I can't wait.
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: