Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND Falconer Steve Eskine demonstrates how he trains his red tail hawk, Angel, to hunt for him during a recent Louisiana National Hunting and Fishing Day. Raptor demonstrations are a part of the Saturday's 32nd-annual celebration of the special day set for the Waddill Wildlife Education Center on North Flannery Road in Baton Rouge. Other festivities also are planned for state Wildlife and Fisheries sites in Woodworth, Monroe and Minden. Chidlren are the focus of all NHFD activities.

There was no secret that the target was the family for Louisiana’s festivities surrounding National Hunting and Fishing Day, set aside by Congress in 1972 for the fourth Saturday in September.

Since Louisiana’s first event in 1982 in Monroe, and the next year in Baton Rouge, attendance has grown, then waned, then sparked again in recent years to the point where more than 10,000 attend the 9 a.m.-3 p.m. NHFD celebrations at four sites, Waddill Wildlife Education Center in Baton Rouge, and at Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ locations in Woodworth, Monroe and Minden.

Activities have changed little over the years: canoeing, pond fishing, fish and wildlife stations, rod-and-reel and fly-casting instructions and lessons, along with heavily supervised archery, B-B gun and shotgunning. And there was always no fees along with free food and drink.

There’s something new this year for the Baton Rouge crowd.

This year’s inaugural Family Fish Fest project will join National Hunting and Fishing Day at Waddill on North Flannery Road.

FFF is for kids 15 and younger. The no-fee registration opens at 9 a.m. at the center, and the first 50 registered youngsters will get a rod and reel donated by Pure Fishing, and kids among the first 100 to register will take home a fishing “goodie” bag.

All kids registering will be entered into a drawing for what the FFF staff calls “numerous prizes.”

Parents and guardians need to bring fishing tackle and bait for their young angler. Fishing and weigh-in on Waddill’s ponds will run from 9-11 a.m. The awards ceremony will follow.

Acadiana area families can choose between the Baton Rouge site or the LDWF’s Woodworth Outdoor Education Center, 661 Robinson Bridge Rd. in Woodworth.

Heads up on H4H

A heads-up that next Sunday’s Baton Rouge-based Hunters for the Hungry annual Clean Out Your Freezer Day is on from 1-4 p.m. at 14 locations in the Capital City area.

Started 20 years ago, this annual drive has collected more than 190,000 pounds of frozen game and fish that goes to the the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank for distribution to 125 soup kitchens and food-serving locations in 11 parishes.

The idea is to get hunters — anglers, too — to clear their freezers of game and fish before the hunting seasons and the state’s usually productive fall and winter fishing.

H4H continues its activity during the hunting season with the Donate a Deer Program.