Since 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day has been America's official thanks to sportsmen. Traditionally celebrated on the fourth Saturday of every September, organizations across the country stage open house events that include opportunities to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor activities.
This year, Delaware is joining the celebration—albeit, a bit early.
"We wanted to get Delaware involved this year," said Fish and Wildlife Coordinator Lynn Staub. "But, the last weekend of September is also race weekend in Dover. We didn't want the day to conflict with that so we got permission to move it up. And, since there's no hunting in Delaware on Sundays, we decided that wouldn't conflict with times that hunters would be out."
The event, co-sponsored by DNREC'S Delaware Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitats, will be held at the Aquatic Resource Education Center and will include a host of hands-on and interactive activities that celebrate hunting and fishing in Delaware. From demonstrations and tours, there's something for every member of the family. An archery trailer, led by hunter education intstructor Mark Ostroski, will allow visitors to try out a bow and arrow while White Clay Fly Fishers will assist people with fly-tying and casting techniques. Other fishing opportunities include "Take a Kid Fishing" activities like knot-tying, casting and—hopefully—reeling at least one fish in.
There will also be several deer stations set up that will explain everything from how to gauge how old a deer is, how to measure a deer and its antlers to the devices used to monitor deer populations within the state.
Staub said that a saltwater touch tank featuring wildlife from the estuary will also be on site, giving visitors the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with some of Delaware's underwater residents. People will also be able to get out on the water, thanks to canoeing opportunities available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Other opportunities include hayrides, Eco-Explorer Program activities and retriever demonstrations. Fish and Wildlife partners like Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware Ducks Unlimited and other organizations will also be exhibiting information about themselves. And, with hunting season already in full swing, people will also have the chance to obtain licenses on-site through computer stations that will be set up for public usage. Credit card payments will be necessary, though, as dealers will not be on-site collecting cash or checks.
Visitors are also encouraged to bring picnic lunches.
"We have a pavilion and picnic area that people will be able to enjoy," Staub said. "It has a beautiful view of the marsh and the estuary."
Page 2 of 2 - Tours of the recently renovated Mallard Lodge, a facility that can be rented out to overnight groups, will also be available.
"I think our celebration is going to be a great opportunity for residents to spend some time outdoors in Delaware, learning about some of the hunting and fishing activities our state has available," Staub said. "And, I really do think, with everything we have planned, there is something for everyone."