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Celebrating conservation, connecting with nature

Free family event offers many fun opportunities

Military youth have the opportunity to learn more about all wildlife conservation during Hunting and Fishing Day activities. Photo credit: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

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Biologist Rachel Carson once noted, "... conservation is a cause that has no end. There is no point at which we will say our work is finished."

In line with this thought, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in conjunction with the Tacoma Sportsmen's Club, will host a free National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration at the club Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"This is an incredibly unique opportunity for families -- civilian and military -- to experience a large variety of conservation activities and outdoor skills for free," according to the WDFW's hunter education division specialist Kris Thorson.

There is a bit of history behind the day.

In 1960, Ira Joffe, a Pennsylvania gun shop owner, came up with the idea that there should be a day set aside to thank outdoor sports persons for their conservation efforts.

President Richard Nixon acted on this suggestion, and in 1972 he signed Proclamation 4128, which designated the fourth Saturday in September as National Hunting and Fishing Day.

The day's intent is to highlight the role hunters and anglers play in conservation, to raise public awareness about the importance of the responsible use of natural resources, to learn more about environmental issues, and to promote wildlife conservation and outdoor sports.

"Participants will learn about the importance of conservation while participating in hands-on activities, learning and practicing a wide variety of outdoor skills like shooting, fishing and survival," explained Thorson.

He noted that the free event should also be of interest to all youth, adding that there will also be a pheasant hunting clinic in November near Oakville.

Youths accompanied by a parent or guardian are invited to participate in shooting events with WDFW-owned archery equipment, pellet guns, .22 rifles, .223 rifles and 20-gauge shotguns.

They will receive training, guidance and encouragement from certified range safety officers, hunter education instructors and master hunters.

Other educational displays and hands-on activities will include trout fishing, fly tying, flint knapping and rod and reel casting practice, as well as making plaster animal track casts, fish prints, seed balls and butterfly houses.

All youth participants will receive a reusable drawstring bag containing several shooting and outdoor safety-related items and informational pamphlets. Door prize drawings and numerous giveaways provided by local and national retailers will round out the day.

"This family-oriented event is a great way to introduce youth to target shooting, hunting, fishing and conservation activities and organizations," emphasized David Whipple, the WDFW's hunter education division manager.

Tacoma Sportsmen's Club, 16409 Canyon Road E., Puyallup,

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