U.S. Soldiers to Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.--Sometimes the best way to appreciate a special privilege is to imagine life without it.
In recognition of American soldiers serving far from home this autumn, the U.S. Army is hosting a National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration at its Heidelberg Rod and Gun Club near the U.S. military base in Heidelberg, Germany.
This lone overseas commemoration of National Hunting and Fishing Day is set for Sept. 27 to coincide with hundreds of events across the U.S. Visit www.nhfday.org for listings.
Congress formalized the day in 1971 as a public reminder that hunters, anglers and shooters are America's premier conservation supporters. Through licenses and excise taxes, they now generate $100,000 every 30 minutes for fish, wildlife and habitat programs.
"This year, let National Hunting and Fishing Day also be a remembrance of those whose service to our country will prevent them from joining us afield this fall. On Sept. 27, think about America's outdoor freedoms, their benefits to conservation and the sacrifices that make it all possible," said Denise Wagner of Wonders of Wildlife museum.
Wonders of Wildlife, in Springfield, Mo., is the official home and coordinator of National Hunting and Fishing Day.
Jennifer L. King of the Heidelberg Rod & Gun Club advisory council said, "Our event is a volunteer-driven celebration for U.S. soldiers, military civilians, contractors, German sportsmen and their families. National Hunting and Fishing Day is an American celebration but sportsmen everywhere enjoy sharing the camaraderie and traditions of hunting and fishing. We're thrilled that our German community will be joining us."
The event will feature informational exhibits, fishing games for kids, a BB fun shoot and competition, archery demonstrations and lessons, a trophy show complete with judging and prizes, food, games and attractions.
Along with the fun, King hopes the event will raise awareness of hunters and anglers throughout the military. Many U.S. soldiers stationed at Heidelberg have seen combat in multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Others have served in places like Kosovo in support of NATO missions.
"This is a chance for them to take a break, remember their hunting and fishing experiences back home, and tell some tall tales," laughed King.
U.S. Army commanders at Heidelberg provide for hunting and fishing as recreational opportunities for military personnel and their families. Through a special agreement, the German government sponsors fishing courses once a year and hunting courses twice a year for students over 18. Upon completion of the two-month hunting course, followed by written, oral and shooting tests in front of a government hunting board--standard German prerequisites--students qualify for German hunting privileges.
King said, "Frankly, I had college classes that were easier than the German hunting course! But, afterward, we greet each other and our German counterparts with the traditional German greeting for hunters and sport shooters, 'Waidmannsheil!'"
Visit Heidelberg Rod and Gun Club: www.mwrgermany.com/HD/rod_gun/rod_gun.htm.
U.S. Presidents from Richard M. Nixon through George W. Bush have officially proclaimed support for National Hunting and Fishing Day. Wonders of Wildlife is developing communications campaigns, event-planning tips, promotional items and free online tools to help build public appreciation for hunters, anglers and shooters.
National Hunting and Fishing Day sponsors for 2008 include Wonders of Wildlife, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, The Sportsman Channel, National Wild Turkey Federation, Realtree, Cabela's, Woolrich, GunBroker.com, Outdoor Channel, Safari Club International, Hunting Heritage Trust, Smith & Wesson, Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, and Yamaha.
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