It is sad to admit that hardly anyone knows what the acronyms SCI, DU, NSSF, NWTF and RMEF stand for or what those organizations do. That's not your fault but rather the hunting community's dismal failure to conduct fundamental public relations. As public relations go, the hunting community couldn't sell a blanket to a naked man in a blizzard.
The accomplishments of SCI (Safari Club International), DU (Ducks Unlimited), RMEF (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) and many other hunting/conservation organizations are extraordinary. But because of their failure at relating to the public, the average American will never know of their incredible wildlife and environmental conservation accomplishments, which literally are envied around the world.
Saturday was the 39th annual celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. President Nixon established this important day back in 1972 as a day to recognize American sportsmen for our herculean conservation efforts.
If you were unaware of this day, don't feel bad, because the vast majority of American hunters and fishermen also are unaware of it. Of the few who are, fewer still will write a letter to their local newspaper, post information about it on an Internet blog or celebrate it in any way, shape or form.
The national television news media, newspapers and informational websites will not mention National Hunting and Fishing Day. This is because they, too, are unaware of it. Again, this is because of the hunting-and-fishing community's abject failure to conduct Public Relations 101.
Across America, numerous local and national hunting and fishing clubs provide, at their own expense, wonderful education outreach programs in which knowledgeable instructors introduce young people to fishing and hunting in a safe, professional environment. There is no coverage of these events by the media. For that matter, our own outdoor writers and periodicals do a pathetic job of covering these events.
Through our various licenses, permits, stamps and fees, hunters and fishermen provide the vast majority of the funds for state wildlife departments. These funds are not used exclusively for hunters and fishermen but are also used to provide hiking trails, upgrade and manage habitat for non-game species, etc. Were it not for the direct dollars provided by hunters and fishermen, there would be no state wildlife agencies and, therefore, no value for the glorious success of wildlife management.
Not only do our licenses and habitat stamps provide the majority of funds for state wildlife agencies, but the Pittman-Robertson Act provides for a special tax on all ammunition, rifles, handguns and archery equipment. More than $2 billion in federal excise taxes has been collected, which is used predominately for wildlife restoration programs. Again, don't feel bad if you didn't know this. Neither do many sportsmen.
While virtually everyone knows there is a Congressional Black Caucus on Capitol Hill, hardly anyone knows there is a Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus composed of more than 300 members of Congress. Their stated mission is to promote and protect the rights of hunters and anglers. The American public rarely, if ever, hears a peep out of them, even though there are numerous unscientifically based game laws and restrictions that need to be rescinded.
The outdoor community has failed at conducting basic marketing and public relations. We have not told the American public that streams are cleaner, public fishing lakes are numerous, and millions of acres of habitat have been purchased by private hunting organizations. This is one of the greatest conservation stories never told.
The American public doesn't know there are more deer, elk, turkey, ducks, songbirds, birds of prey, doves and black bears than when the Mayflower landed. This fundamental knowledge should be passed on to every kid in grade school. Hands-on, value-based conservation is the only conservation that works.
National Hunting and Fishing Day should be a day celebrated every year by all Americans. In order to celebrate something, however, you need to know that it exists. The outdoor community has failed miserably at informing you of this good-news story. What a shame.
So join the Nugent family and many others and spread the good word as we celebrate clean air, soil and water and a proud heritage of healthy, thriving wildlife - thanks to the hunters, anglers and trappers of America. Happy National Hunting and Fishing Day, America. And happy hunting season 2011.
Ted Nugent is an American rock 'n' roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of "Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns & Rock 'N' Roll" (Regnery Publishing).