September’s last days are a time for sportsmen — no matter what outdoor pursuits fits their fancies — to celebrate what their passions have meant to our state and our country — and, across Louisiana, to help the less fortunate.
Saturday celebrates Louisiana’s version of National Hunting and Fishing Day. If you’ve never taken the time to attend one of the four venues across the state, then make time this time.
South Louisiana’s lone spot is the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Waddill Outdoors Education Center on North Flannery Road — between Choctaw Drive on the south and Greenwell Springs Road on the north — in Baton Rouge.
From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday there will be enough for youngsters to fill all six hours, from things like a morning fishing tournament on the center’s ponds (there’s usually a catfish pond), to shooting bows and arrows and shotguns and BB guns, to canoeing, instruction in fly casting, and dozen or more other activities.
There’s food and drink, too — and it’s free.
For Capital City area folks, there’s ample parking across North Flannery near the Waddill location, and, while you can walk, there’s a shuttle to the parking lots.
Other Hunting and Fishing Day sites are in Minden, Woodworth and Monroe, which begs the question about why other sportsmen and conservation groups haven't banded together to get something like these celebrations in their communities in our other main population areas.
If you want to know more, go to the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov.
H4H gets rolling
What started about 25 years ago as a grass-roots effort among a handful of Baton Rouge hunters, Hunters for the Hungry has grown into a statewide organization to provide game and fish to the more than 100 soup kitchens and shelters.
Beginning Thursday in Alexandria, H4H’s Clean Out Your Freezer days is the push to get hunters to clear their freezers of game and for fishermen to donate fish to the cause of feeding the less fortunate among us.
From the start, this collection day was tied to the day after Louisiana Hunting and Fishing Day, and more than two decades past, five collections stations in the Baton Rouge area took in more than 4,000 pounds of frozen game for a local soup kitchen.
One was at the corner of Nicholson and South Stadium drives (across from old Alex Box Stadium at LSU), and one of the stories from that first effort involved an elderly woman with a worried look on her face driving into that parking lot. Her story was worthy of a spot in Smiley Anders’ daily column.
After opening her car’s extra-large trunk, this slightly built woman spurred the volunteers into action. There were five 48-quart ice chests, none of which she could’ve lifted.
“You need to hurry,” she said, at once begging the question why the rush on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
“I’ve told my husband he needed to do something with all this meat in the freezer. I have no room for other food, and while he’s at the hunting camp today, I cleaned out the freezer, but I have to be home before he gets home," she said. "He doesn’t know I’m gone.”
It must’ve taken her an hour or longer to fill those ice chests, but determination drove her to her donation of more than 200 pounds of venison and rabbits left us with an image of what was heard during the conversation after the next time her husband opened their freezer.
Anyway, donations increased the next year to the point where only the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was large enough to handle the volume of frozen game and fish, and from those first efforts, the total Clean Out Your Freezer Day take through 2017 is nearing 300,000 pounds, and stands as a tribute to the volunteers and hunters and fishermen across the state.
For the next days and weeks, the efforts of men and women have spread H4H’s message to nearly all corners of our state, and it provides hunters and fishermen a chance to do what that kindly woman did a quarter of a century ago.
In 2017, canned goods were added to the donation list, and it’s always been a policy to accept store-bought frozen meats like turkeys, chickens, pork, beef and sausage.
In most cases, the donations can be tax deductable.
After the Clean Out Day, H4H’s efforts carry into the deer-hunting season with processors set up to take hunters’ donated deer into food for shelters and soup kitchens.
For more on this nonprofit organization, call Jimmy Anthony at (225) 412-4993 or go to H4H’s website: hunters3hungrylouisiana.org.