Sorry, but I am a week late!
I’m talking, of course, about National Hunting and Fishing Day, a special day for those who love the outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and target shooting.
Like I said, I am guilty of being late, but sad to say it seems that way too many outdoor-related organizations seem to regard National Hunting and Fishing Day as just another day.
I do blame the recent COVID-19 pandemic for taking the focus off this day for a couple of years, but we should never let it go.
Back in 1972, then-President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation making National Hunting and Fishing Day a special day for outdoor enthusiasts and as a time to introduce others to the sports we love. This year, National Hunting and Fishing Day was celebrated September 23.
It is always celebrated on the fourth Saturday in September. President Nixon’s proclamation stated, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and insuring their proper management for future generations.”
It is especially important to introduce the younger generation and others to our outdoor world because they are the future of hunting and fishing as well as target shooting. The future of these sports will be in their hands.
Granted, these are changing times, and they seem to be changing more each and every day, but that does not mean that we should ignore getting others into the real outdoors.
In my earlier years, I used to take some of the neighborhood kids out on fishing trips, both fresh and saltwater. I even introduced a couple of the neighborhood kids to archery and a couple of them became bowhunters.
One young man bowhunted with me for a year and then found other interests, but his mother once told me that he NEVER forgot the hunting trips we made.
Our son Keith was taken from us at an early age in a motorcycle accident, but he was as ardent a fishermen as any I have ever known.
As I said in an earlier column, our son George, who now resides in Georgia, took to hunting at an early age and then became an excellent target shooter.
Our older son Michael has gotten into target shooting with legal handguns, and even surprised me with his knowledge of the sport of shooting paper targets.
Our youngest son Kyle, while not into the shooting sports, does fish from time to time and has turned my grandson Keith into a fishing machine. He also married into a family that is into hunting. His mother-in-law is quite a deer hunter.
I am really proud of their outdoor achievements and even more proud that I did take the time to introduce them to my outdoors.
Next year, mark the fourth Saturday in September on your calendar and let’s all bring a newcomer into the outdoors that we love so much. If we don’t, we might lose it someday.
A number of years ago, some of the gang from the Meriden Rod & Gun Club were supplying venison to a soup kitchen in Meriden. The practice was put to a halt when I received a phone call from a city health official informing me that we could no longer give venison to the soup kitchen because it was not “government inspected.”
I pointed out to him that I recently saw a homeless person scrounging in a trash bin at a local bake shop looking for something to eat and there was no government stickers saying the food was safe to eat. I did not get a reply.
I then asked the official if he was against hunting and his reply was, “Yes, but that has nothing to do with my decision.”
Fast forward a couple of years and the NRA came up with a program that was called Hunters for the Hungry. Some states took to the idea and some did not.
After a while, Connecticut got on board and it even made TV with then-Governor John Rowland and rock star Ted Nugent on hand for the signing of a bill that would allow the donation of wild game to organizations that fed the less fortunate.
According to the NRA, each year more than 8.1 million meals are donated to the needy. The basic purpose of Hunters for the Hungry was to donate food for those in need.
According to the NRA, the top five states for the venison donations to Hunters for the Hungry are Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Now here is the best part, you can donate your venison through a meat cutting shop like Cichowski’s Custom Cuts on Collie Brook Road in East Hampton (860-267-0857) and it will cost you nothing.
The shop is now operated by Erica and Shawn Sharpe. Erica is the daughter of Paul Cichowski, the mountain man who started the meat cutting operation.
There is also another Connecticut organization that you can contact and it is called Hunt to Feed. You can find them at hunttofeed.org.
“Hunt to Feed” is run by a sportsman named Wes Monbaron who tells me that their goal this year is 5,000 pounds of donated venison. He can be reached at 860-384-0099.(It is also preferable that donated venison be in five-pound packages.)
National Hunting and Fishing Day, Hunters for the Hungry and Hunt to Feed: It does not get any better than that in my outdoor world.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.