Tomorrow is National Wildlife Day

September 4 is National Wildlife Day, and it’s one we sportsmen should mark on our calendar.

by Bill Cooksey
Sportsmen's Outreach Coordinator

Roseate spoonbill. Photo: Latendresse Media Collective for NWF

Aside from traditional holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, hunters and anglers mark their calendars with “Opening Days.” Yours may vary, but mine is marked for “duck” in three states, “dove,” “bow,” and I always highlight the first full moon in May. These are holidays we revere and look forward to all year. Like children awaiting the Easter bunny, the anticipation costs us sleep, higher blood pressure and, often, a bit of marital discord. All of this is due to our love for our sports and the game and fish we pursue. Labor Day marks the beginning of the fall hunting season, so hunters are busy dove or squirrel hunting and getting ready for teal, and the serious fishermen are glad to see us off the water. 

With all that excitement, this is a perfect time to give serious thought to the wildlife conservation efforts which ensure the future of our pursuits. September 4 is National Wildlife Day, and it’s one we sportsmen should mark on our calendar. The day was originally set aside to “encourage improved awareness of the species around us and in the broader world,” but it should mean much more than that to those of us who hunt and fish. The spirit of this day should be integrated into our lifestyles.

As sportsmen, we already spend more time in nature than most, but it’s all too easy to get tunnel vision while afield. Let’s face it, life is hectic and we’re all trying to hustle through to spend a few precious hours in the woods or on the water. Then we get out there and focus on the game and ignore everything around us. The bald eagle and the otter are ignored…unless they are after one of our downed ducks. Dolphins are ignored…unless they spook the redfish you were on. Don’t even get me started on the nongame species many simply ignore.

The best sportsmen I know, and I’m talking about the real killers, know and appreciate the whole scene of the outdoors. They don’t have to look twice to tell a snipe from a yellowlegs, and when they see a flying squirrel on the side of an oak, they stop, look and smile. They are more successful in the field because they take the time to learn about and appreciate ALL the wildlife, and fauna, in their area. They are steps ahead of others because they see the whole picture, they see the clues.

On this National Wildlife Day, get out. Sure, it’s a workday, but a morning or afternoon walk is easy. Instead of cursing the squirrels on your bird feeder, watch ‘em a minute and laugh at their antics. You can run them off later. If you don’t know a cormorant from an anhinga, get a book on birds. And, while we’re on books, most of us don’t know nearly enough about trees, cover plants and forage in our area. There’s no shortage of things to learn, and the more you know the more you’ll appreciate and enjoy your time afield. You’ll also put more game in your freezer.