ESCANABA - This Saturday has been set aside for years with events promoting hunting and fishing as National Hunting and Fishing Day.
According to NHFD, "the first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe's Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe's idea and created 'Outdoor Sportsman's Day' in the state."
With determined prompting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the concept soon emerged on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills.
Locally it is celebrated with the cooperation of many conservation organizations that also include a broader perspective on outdoors recreation.
As a prelude, the Great Lakes Sports and Recreation Club has worked throughout the summer in mentoring kids on the shooting sports. Their youth shooting league has grown from a staring level of 35 participants just a few years ago to 153 this year, marking a 14 percent gain from 2009.
The program has expanded to include 3-D archery, .22 caliber rimfire rifle to the original shotgun sporting clays, trap and skeet and target archery. The kids this year shot 12,000 targets, 3,000 over last year's total.
Some of the youth have gone on to complete in shooting sports tournaments and brought championships back to the UP.
Participants were taught by NRA certified instructors, and luncheons were featured this year for both workers and participants. All who helped were volunteers.
Funding and supplies for the shooting league came from: the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation), Great Lakes Sports & Recreation Club, Delta Waterfowl, UP Whitetails Association, Wildlife Unlimited, Sackerson Foundation, Jug Bourdeau Fishing Tournament, Family Eye Care, Mr. Klean, Marble's Outlet Store, Dagenais Foundation, M&C Gun Shop, Mr. Rental, Dunham's Sports, Ford River Lion's Club and Superior Outdoors.
Now those kids and hundreds of others will be present again at the GLSRC Saturday for National Hunting & Fishing Day to not only participate in the shooting sports but to get a taste of fishing with the Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen and their fishing pond.
There should also be some introduction to trapping with fur displays and All-Terrain Vehicle riding display through the help of the Sportsmen's Off-Road Vehicle Association.
The local event has been re-titled "Youth In The Out Of Doors" and will include the NWTF "Jakes Event" (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge & Ethics in Sportsmanship) and will be hosted by the GLSRC, UP Whitetails, Bays de Noc Gobblers, New Page Sportsmen's Club, BDN/GLSF and SORVA.
Registration will run from 8 - 9 a.m., and is required along with being accompanied by an adult. The event is free and will include lunch. All kids registered will take home a prize and drawing will take place between 1 and 2 p.m.
Sponsorship is provided by: UPW, Ducks Unlimited, BDN/GLSF, Bark River Knife Works, NWTF, WU, the Community Foundation and IMS and more.
This weekend will also feature the annual statewide Michigan Youth and 100 percent Disabled Veterans deer hunt.
A spin-off of the Youth Hunt will be an antlerless deer registration event at the Nadeau Township Hall on the Rodeo Grounds. There will be prizes awarded for the top three does brought in, by weight, with first place winning a .22 caliber magnum rifle. A valid deer hunting license qualifies all kids to participate both days.
Registration will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. - noon and 6 - 8 p.m.
Sunday registration will run from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. It is not necessary to be present to win.
According to Marv Gerlach from the Michigan Quality Deer Management Association, sponsorship of this event comes from area groups and businesses that include the William Anderson Sportsmen's, NORMENCO Sportsmen's Club, the UP Bear Houndsmen, Menominee County Pheasant Club, the Mighty Deer Lick Co., and Dave's Deer Feed.
These are examples of the many things taking place annually to celebrate our outdoors heritage.
It's great to note the involvement of the many conservation organizations here in the UP as well as other business entities. It is also important to realize there are varied means in place to not only introduce youth to the outdoors but to provide a spot for adults to join in on the fun.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.