Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Hunting, fishing and conservation go hand in hand

Rainbow Trout on Gifford Pinchot National Forest. USDA Forest Service.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the surface, hunting and fishing may seem incompatible with conservation. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

By the turn of the 20th century, unregulated slaughter of wildlife had devastated species like white-tailed deer, elk and wild turkey.

It was sportsmen and women, led by great conservationists like President Theodore Roosevelt, who became the most active and vocal agents for change in conservation. Hunters, anglers and sports shooters campaigned for tougher laws that protected wildlife, their habitat, and established self-imposed excise taxes that continue to fund conservation efforts to this day.

These taxes have accrued nearly $6 billion for wildlife conservation since 1939. They have helped species like white-tailed deer recover from a nationwide population of just 300,000 in 1930 to more than 30 million today. Other species that have benefited include the wild turkey, which 100 years ago numbered only 30,000. Today there are more than 7 million.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is coming up this Saturday, Sept. 22. Since President Richard Nixon issued the initial proclamation for National Hunting and Fishing Day, it has been a day 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.”

This spirit of conservation has persisted through generations of sportsmen and women. The Forest Service shares the conservation ethic of these sportsmen and women. Gifford Pinchot, our first Chief Forester, was a close confidante of President Theodore Roosevelt, and shared his views on protecting our natural resources. More than that, national forests are home to fish and wildlife of all kinds and hundreds of shooting ranges, and have been enjoyed by hunters and anglers since their establishment over 100 years ago.

Bow Hunters at Buttonbush Pond on the Midewin Naitonal Tallgrass Prairie. USDA Forest Service.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is an important day. It recognizes the amazing contribution hunters and anglers make to our public lands. Still, it is only one day, while fishing and sport-shooting are year-round activities.

Beyond their financial contributions, hunters, anglers and sports shooters contribute to wildlife conservation in other ways. They are some of our most active partners and volunteer their time, talent and resources to cleaning up waterways, repairing infrastructure, clearing out invasive species and more. Across the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands, there are undoubtedly a host of amazing stories where the work these sportsmen and women do make a difference in conserving America’s natural resources.

These stories of shared stewardship get to the core of our mission. If you know of an individual, a group, or an event where hunters, anglers, or sports shooters are partnering or volunteering with us, share that story! Tell your public affairs officer, and ask them to send these stories to Inside the Forest Service.