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Opinion: National Hunting and Fishing Day: Celebrating Missouri’s sportsmen and women

  

Saturday, Sept. 25 marks our nation’s 49th Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD). Signed as an official presidential proclamation by President Richard Nixon in 1972, NHFD is a great opportunity to come together and recognize the historical and ongoing contributions of the original conservationists — hunters and anglers. Likewise, NHFD is another chance to highlight the availability of safe outdoor recreation opportunities that many Americans have turned to during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some are eager to return to a sense of normalcy, NHFD is a reminder that these opportunities are still available for all of us to enjoy.    

As co-chairs of the Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and as members of the 49-state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, we and our fellow co-chairs are proud to take time to celebrate the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling. On this day, we ask our fellow Missourians to join us in recognizing the tremendous dedication that our state’s sportsmen and women bring to the conservation of our natural resources.

Rep. Ben Baker with a buck he shot on Sept. 23, 2021, with an arrow. (PROVIDED)

Missouri’s hunters and anglers are the primary sources of conservation funding for the Show-Me State. Through the purchase of licenses, tags, and stamps, and by paying self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, electric trolling motors, and motorboat fuel, hunters and anglers drive conservation funding in Missouri and the U.S., through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” program. 

Last year alone, contributions through the ASCF generated $58.67 million which, in addition to the more than $120 million generated through a 1/8 of 1 percent sales tax, help fund state conservation efforts through the Missouri Department of Conservation. All Missourians benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting ranges, improved soil, and water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research, habitat management on public and private lands, hunter education, boat access area construction, and many other Missouri Department of Conservation projects funded through this program. 

Hunting and angling are also significant economic drivers for our state. Missouri’s sportsmen and women spend more than $1.67 billion per year on their outdoor pursuits. Additionally, 2017 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that, on the national level, sportsmen and women spent more than $19 billion on hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, which doesn’t include trip-related spending or license fees that were necessary for their participation. This spending is critical to the outdoor economy, which comprised 2.2 percent of Missouri’s GDP that same year. 

As has been discovered (or rediscovered) by many during the COVID-19 pandemic, hunting and fishing produce countless benefits for an individual’s physical and mental health. As a sporting community, we celebrate those that have decided to join us afield or on the water, and welcome new participants, both young and old, to our time-honored traditions. Hunting and fishing are great ways of procuring organic, sustainable, locally-sourced food for the entire family while simultaneously contributing to the conservation of our abundant natural resources for future generations. 

For more information on hunting and fishing opportunities in Missouri please visit https://mdc.mo.gov/. More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at http://www.NHFDay.org, www.NHFDay.org or on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website.