The statistics are eye-catching:
— More Americans hunt and shoot than play baseball.
— More than 34 million Americans 6 years and older go fishing every year.
— Twenty-five percent of anglers are female, and women and teenage girls represent one of the fastest-growing groups of new hunters.
— Funding from hunters has helped whitetail deer populations rebound nationally to 30 million from just 500,000 deer in 1900. Wild turkey populations have rebounded to over 7 million from about 100,000 birds, and Rocky Mountain elk populations have rebounded from 41,000 in 1907 to more than 1 million today.
— In March, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributed $1.1 billion in revenues collected from fishing- and hunting-related excise taxes to support outdoor recreation and conservation efforts in all 50 states through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts. The state of Washington received a $2 million portion of this annual funding.
The acts have been in effect sine the 1930s, paid for by American hunters and anglers to support conservation and wildlife management efforts, and provide opportunity for bird watchers, hikers, campers, climbers, canoeists and all who enjoy the outdoors.
In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era’s heightened environmental awareness but knew that many people didn’t understand the role sportsmen and women played and continue to play in the conservation movement. At the urging of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Congress authorized National Hunting and Fishing Day, on the fourth Saturday of every September, and it was signed into law in May of 1972 by President Richard Nixon.
Today, National Hunting and Fishing Day continues as an opportunity to celebrate outdoor sports and conservation, and as a day to share the pride in conservation successes led by hunters and anglers across the nation.
Locally, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has organized a free National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Boy Scouts of America Camp Pigott on Woods Creek Road in Snohomish. The family-oriented event is a great way to introduce youth to target shooting, hunting and fishing, and the support hunters and anglers provide for wildlife management and conservation. And, it’s in our own back yard.
Youth 17 and under, attending with an accompanying adult, can shoot Department of Fish and Wildlife firearms, archery equipment and air rifles, all for free. Agency staff and hunter education instructors will be on hand to teach shooting safety and provide guidance.
Those interested in an angling experience can fish for one of the more than 500 trout stocked by the department just for this event.
The event provides free lunch for the first 500 youth and accompanying adults; free participation bags with shooting safety gear; door-prize drawings; a turkey hunting clinic and presentations on scent-free hunting; basic knot-tying instruction; opportunities to make plaster casts of animal tracks and Japanese-style fish prints, and conservation organization displays and information.
Event organizers suggest those 17 and under preregister online by going to the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s home page, clicking on the National Fishing and Hunting Day logo, then clicking on preregistration.
Now, those who have ever been lost on the maze of roads in the three-lakes area north of Snohomish/Monroe will know that the ability to follow directions is a critical skill in that area. Those fortunates with GPS can set Camp Pigott’s physical address: 24225 Woods Creek Road, Snohomish, Wash., 98290. Those without will have to wing it with the department’s directions: Going east on Highway 2 through Monroe, turn left on Woods Creek Road, on the east edge of town (a red barn-style gas station and deli is on the left corner as you make the turn). Continue 10.3 miles on Woods Creek Road. At every fork in the road, keep right. Turn right at the Camp Pigott sign and follow signs around the lake to the parking lot on the right. The phone number at the camp is 360-568-2065.
Duck and goose hunters must be giggling uncontrollably about now, as word gets out about the upcoming fall/winter hunt seasons.
Ducks? According to state data, a good spring/summer hatch locally and in western Canada should provide a strong hunting season when the weather cooperates — and that might be one of the few dark spots. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said long-range weather forecasts predict a warmer, drier winter than usual, which is anathema to scattergunners who much prefer cold, wet, windy and as miserable as possible. So we best be ready to take advantage of every little front that moves through.
Snow geese? Another good season in the offing, according to reports from Wrangell Island Russian biologists. They say the breeding season produced high numbers of chicks hatched, and good survival, and to expect a robust population of snows to be heading our way. A fine word, “robust.”
In addition to traditional concentrations of snow geese in the Stanwood area, the birds are expanding in Snohomish County. Our biologists say it’s likely some 5,000 to 10,000 snows will spend at least some time in the Snohomish River system this winter.
The word is that the Spencer Island unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area will have both boat and walk-in access this year. Park a quarter-mile from the bridge to the island, near the sewage treatment facility buildings.