Area sportsmen and outdoorsmen are setting up for 41st Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day gatherings at local sites Saturday and this weekend.
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is the honorary chairman of this year's events, but many area volunteers will chair, coordinate and conduct an interesting variety of exhibits and hand-on activities to acknowledge the good things anglers and hunters do for the resource and mankind in general.
Many seasoned sportsmen recall efforts that resulted in President Nixon signing the official first commemoration of National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1971. Previously, anti-sportsmen groups had staged programs to discredit and possibly eliminate hunting and fishing pursuits, including that infamous "Guns of Autumn" television production that attempted to exhibit the evils of sport hunting.
As a result, individuals, clubs, federations and national hunting and fishing organizations such as Safari Club International, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and others joined in a nationwide endeavor to highlight good things accomplished and worth looking forward to while hunting and fishing.
The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs had been established 20 years before the national program began and has participated in each of the previous NH&F Day programs during the second last weekend of September for the last 40 years.
This year, ECFSC volunteers will be set up at Elma Conservation Club at 600 Creek Rd. on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free demonstrations, presentations on fishing, stocking, shooting, and other outdoors activities, many of which include hands-on participation.
From turkey calling to bass fishing, there will be something of interest to all at the Elma club. Rich Davenport coordinates events to be held rain or shine that day. For more details or to contribute time and hard goods, check with him at 510-7952 or go to eriectfsc.org.
The New York Power Authority and Niagara Tourism hold a Wildlife Festival during the weekend of NH&FD at the Power Vista in Lewiston. Exhibits and presentations are ongoing both days, with a special Kids Fishing Contest set for youths ages 15 and under. Prizes will be awarded in three age groups for the largest fish caught at the fishing pier and at the reservoir. For more details on this contest, call 286-8881.
The Livingston County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs has done a masterful job of organizing and presenting the NH&FD events around the grounds at DEC Region 8 Headquarters in Avon.
Activities and exhibits are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, with free bus shuttle service from free parking areas along Routes 5 and 20 each day.
The Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen's clubs hosts the NH&FD activities at the Godfrey's Pond complex in Stafford, east of Batavia, on Saturday. For directions and more details, call (585) 356-1443.
For details on these and other events statewide and nationally, go to nhfday.org.