|At this point, the job of promoting NHF Day at the national level was taken up by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a non-profit organization formed to promote a better understanding of and a more active participation in the shooting sports. The NSSF soon won the support and assistance of over 40 other national conservation and sportsmen's organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League and The Wildlife Society. NSSF advertisements and mailings soon made the leaders of thousands of sportsmen's clubs and millions of individual sportsmen aware of the upcoming NHF Day observance.|
In early spring 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills, and on May 2, President Nixon signed the proclamation making official the first NHF Day. "I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations," said Nixon.
The response from hunters, anglers and conservationists was dramatic: national, regional, state and local organizations made plans for events across America, and NSSF promotions encouraged editors of newspapers, television and radio stations everywhere to publicize NHF Day. By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and town Hunting & Fishing Days.
Some 3,000 clubs and affiliates of national organizations staged the first "open house" observances, providing some four million Americans with a chance to experience the outdoor sports.
In the years to follow, these local observances expanded, many developing into information fairs at public places such as shopping malls, libraries, schools, and nature preserves. Sportsmen's clubs also took part by inviting the public to visit their facilities to shoot clay targets, learn about local wildlife conservation activities and take part in hands-on demonstrations of the outdoor skills. Sporting goods retailers observed the day with product demonstrations and 11%-discount sales, thanking their customers for paying the 11% excise taxes on sporting equipment. And individuals got involved by writing letters to their newspaper editors, taking their favorite "indoorsman" out for a day afield, and asking mayors to sign Hunting & Fishing Day proclamations.
NHF Day is today the focus of one of the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote the outdoor sports and conservation. In addition to the thousands of NHF Day open houses and other local events held at sportsmen's clubs, shopping malls and nature preserves, many state wildlife agencies now organize large regional outdoor fairs that attract tens of thousands.
The massive two-day southern Illinois "Celebration of National Hunting & Fishing Days" in Carterville, for example, draws some 30,000 attendees each year. Some of the many activities featured at this outdoor extravaganza included wildlife exhibits, duck and turkey calling, free BB-gun shooting for young people and demonstrations of hunting dog field trials. In addition, displays were set up by over 100 equipment vendors, clubs and other organizations.
National Hunting & Fishing Day headquarters offers a range of promotional materials designed to help both organizations and individuals take part. Click here to view the online catalog or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.