Hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania is a time-honored tradition that allows participants to escape the noise and static of modern life and reconnect with nature.
It provides adults with a unique way to connect with their kids and grandkids that is healthy, exciting, and rewarding. It’s during the hunting season that many folks get to spend time with family and friends that they may only see at that time of year.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, September 22, is a day to recognize these activities and connections -- and conservation, too.
Here’s a brief hunting and fishing quiz to help you celebrate!
- How many Pennsylvania game species can you hunt on state forest or state park land?
- How many of the state’s fish species can you catch in state forest or state park waters?
- How many record state fish were caught in state park lakes?
Did you know that most Pennsylvanians who enjoy hunting and fishing, enjoy doing both on public land?
- Answer: All state game species can be found in state forests and parks.
- Answer: All state fish species can be found in the rivers, streams, and lakes within these public lands.
- Answer: A total of four state records were broken with catches coming from state park lakes. They are: smallmouth bass at French Creek; bluegill at Keystone; bullhead at Marsh Creek; and yellow perch at Beltzville.
Pennsylvania’s History of Habitat Conservation
With a strong interest in wildlife, comes a strong interest in their habitat.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, who in his earlier years worked for the U.S. Forest Service, is credited with defining conservation as, “the wise use of the Earth and its resources for the lasting good of men.”
Hunters and anglers help fund a range of conservation programs through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. A modernized version of the act currently is with U.S. Congress for consideration.
The act sends revenue from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to state wildlife agencies to be used for wildlife conservation projects, outdoor recreation access, and hunter education.
State agencies can only use Pittman-Robertson Act funds for a primary wildlife purpose. For example, purchasing public land, improving essential habitat, and creating additional outdoor recreation opportunities. This also benefits hikers and bikers, photographers and birders, canoeists, and campers.
Since 1937, $19 billion has been spent on wildlife and habitat conservation. Annual payments to state fish and wildlife agencies have resulted in the recovery of deer, turkeys, and other non-game species, with benefits to hunters and non-hunters alike. Act funds also have helped in the acquisition of millions of acres of public lands.
“As one of the leading states in the nation in terms of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, Pennsylvania’s sportsmen and women in turn spend a great deal of money on equipment and supplies, making Pennsylvania one of the top beneficiaries of Pittman-Robertson funding,” said Robb Miller, who administers the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation.
Combined with licensing, all of this is referred to as the North American Wildlife Model. The model represents one of the greatest legacies of our forefathers.
As we celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day, we should take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are to have had such forward-thinking ancestors.
Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation
The Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation does a great deal of work centered around advocacy and education.
This council feels strongly that the most pressing issue sportsmen face today is the advancing threat posed by chronic wasting disease. In order to help educate the public about the disease, the council started a speakers’ bureau to help get the word out about what the disease is and how hunters can help slow its spread.
The council also helps fill vacancies on the boards of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat and Game Commissions, ensuring an open and transparent process.
There also is a Governor’s Youth Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation, made up of teens ages 14-18, who too are focused on advocacy and education. The youth council has enjoyed educational trips involving recreational shooting and fishing, and learning about river ecology and bird banding.
Both councils are working to shed light on the risk posed by invasive plants and insects.
“While there are many challenges facing the hunting and fishing community, I feel honored and privileged to work with the members of both councils,” said Miller. “The adult membership is composed of some of the finest conservationists I’ve ever met and interacting with the membership of the youth council gives me great hope for the future.”
The youth council experiences vacancies each year because members can’t serve past their senior year in high school. Youth between the ages of 14-18 are welcome to apply to serve by contacting Robb Miller at 717-705-0793.
Engaging More Pennsylvanians in Hunting and Fishing Conservation
“The challenge all outdoor enthusiasts face is keeping the next generation engaged. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, we’ve done a good job of engaging women in hunting,” said Miller. “Nationally, female participation in hunting increased by 104 percent between 2001 and 2016, and female participation in target shooting increased by more than 81 percent during that same time.”
However, he notes there’s more work to be done, especially regarding youth.
“Bringing new groups into our outdoor traditions will help sustain our conservation legacy, so this year, celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day with a child by your side!”
There is just nothing like watching a child catch their first fish or be startled by the flush of a pheasant or grouse.
Beck Chickillo, a member of the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation and an avid supporter of wildlife conservation, penned these words in the May/June 2018 issue of Pa. Angler and Boater:
“My deep appreciation for wild trout motivates me to help ensure its stability. As a member of the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation, I look forward to learning more about Pennsylvania’s wild trout, and teaching others about the importance of protecting, conserving, and restoring trout streams for future generations.”
Celebrate with Hunting and Fishing Events
National Hunting and Fishing Day focuses on raising public awareness about the importance of the wise use of natural resources, promoting wildlife conversation, and outdoor sports.
On this day, local, state, regional, and national organizations hold fishing- and hunting-related events providing participants with an opportunity to experience traditional outdoor sports.
At one notable event on Sunday, September 23 at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitor’s Center, participants can enjoy hands-on activities, including waterfowl calling, fly-tying, decoy carving, native garden planting, and wild game cooking. DCNR staff will address “Leave No Trace” ethics and activities.
For more fishing and other events, visit DCNR’s calendar.