The fourth Saturday in September has been celebrated as National Hunting and Fishing Day since President Richard Nixon signed the first proclamation 40 years ago, according to Wonders of Wildlife website www.nhfday.org.
According to their website, the day celebrates traditional outdoor sports while promoting hunting, shooting and fishing, as well as the conservation benefits provided for all Americans “to appreciate wildlife and wild places.”
Locally, the day has been celebrated for years with the help of Fort Stewart’s Directorate of Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation Division.
This year, FMWR Outdoor Recreation supervisor Bill Cooney said the one-day event will be observed the entire month of September.
“We were looking at what we could do this year, and my supervisor, Susan Chipple, realized you just can’t do everything in one day, so it evolved into a month-long event,” said Cooney, coordinator for the 10 scheduled events.
Cooney said the pass and permit offices have information about outdoor recreation on post and provide an image of the variety of wildlife on Fort Stewart’s 280,000 acres, as well as its fresh and salt-water fishing opportunities.
On Sept. 13, soldiers can compete in a skeet shoot at Stewart’s skeet range. The top two shooters will recoup their $5 entry fee by being allowed to compete free in the Sept. 15 quarterly skeet shoot, he said.
Also on Sept. 15, Cooney said Red Cloud Echo Range will be open for long range (100 to 1,000 meters) shooting for weapons .22 to .50 caliber. The $5 per-person fee covers two hours of shooting between 8 a.m. and noon, he said.
Cooney said probably the biggest day of the month-long celebration is Sept. 22, when the official National Hunting and Fishing Day will be celebrated on Fort Stewart with a family fishing event from 7-11 a.m. at Pond No. 30.
“Our fish-and-wildlife branch will be stocking the pond with over 2,000 catfish, 12 to 14 inches long,” he said. “They’ll also provide a fish cleaning station. For this year’s door prizes, we’ll give out separate tickets for adults and children with (age-appropriate) prizes. I’ve also been able to get Club Stewart to provide a catfish cooking demo — with free samples.”
Because adults also will be fishing, Cooney said there will be a limit of five fish per person. Although Georgia and installation fishing permits are waived, he said the Directorate of Emergency Management’s game wardens will be on hand for the event to enforce game laws, answer questions and help young fishermen hone their fishing techniques.
While families are fishing on Fort Stewart, Cooney said there will be a youth archery shoot at Hunter’s skeet/archery range from 9-11 a.m. Long County’s Cassie Pelton, 17, who is ranked 11th nationally by the U.S. Archery Association, will conduct an demonstration at Hunter, then she’ll join Cooney and local youth from 1-3 p.m. at Stewart’s archery range at the pass and permit office.
Cooney said the final event for the month will be an outdoor wilderness fair from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 28 in front of Stewart’s post exchange. The fair will include tent displays showcasing what Fort Stewart has to offer through its outdoor recreation program. Representatives from FMWR’s outdoor recreation facilities will promote their facilities and upcoming events.