Very few outdoors folks around the country could have more reason to celebrate this National Hunting and Fishing Week than those of us who cherish what Louisiana offers in its fields, forests, swamps, marshes, bayous, rivers and near-coast and offshore waters.
For the 32nd year, state Wildlife and Fisheries will honor this week with Saturday’s National Hunting and Fishing Day. Open houses of sorts are set for four locations. Around here, it’s 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Waddill Wildlife Education Center.
It’s with good reason we celebrate hunting and fishing in our state and country. There’s even a better reason to give a pat on the back to our country’s more than 60 million and our state’s near 1 million hunters and fishers.
It’s because we pay for what we do. At the same time in our society, there is a comparative handful of vocal, active people who believe deep in their hearts that they can dictate how, when, where and with what these millions of our citizens can use the recreation time they set aside.
These people call themselves “environmentalists” or “conservationists” or some other euphemistic title and believe that applying those words gives them the right to decry, debase and disparage what we do in our fields, swamps, forests and marshes and what we can and can’t do on our waters.
That’s not to take away credit for what environmental groups have done during the past 100 years, but what’s happened is that you can hardly be an environmentalist and a hunter or fisherman and stand shoulder to shoulder with these people and not be castigated because you use what our lands and waters provide, namely game and fish.
For those come-lately people who call themselves conservationists and don’t believe we should be able to take from our lands and waters, then you’re much too late to join this party.
And that’s the point of National Hunting and Fishing Day: We’re well on the downhill side in reaching 100 years of true conservation action that demanded fishing and hunting licenses, federal and state waterfowl stamps, and other user fees to preserve habitat, provide improved habitat, give us better science and fund the jobs that go with success stories we find today.
Add to that the taxes we pay on virtually everything we use to hunt and fish — taxes that are returned to the states for habitat, fish-stocking projects, upland-game study and improved access — and it’s clear that environmental and pseudo-conservationist groups have a long way to go to come close to putting money where their mouths are.
We’ve given billions.
If you detect a note of anger here, then so be it. What needs to happen today, after actions by small groups have inflated ammunition prices and reduced our ability to catch fish, is that hunters and fishermen need to stand up and be heard, and not just patted on the back for one week every year.