Special Day Highlights Texas Cultural Phenomenon
With National Hunting and Fishing Day coming this Saturday, dove season in full swing, and the cool days of deer season around the corner, it’s worth noting the economic and cultural powerhouse these pursuits still represent in modern Texas.
In fact, Governor Greg Abbot took note of this, and today issued an official proclamation recognizing National Hunting and Fishing Day, saying “Our sportsmen and women were among the first conservationists to support the establishment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conserve fish, wildlife and their habitats, and through their license fees helped fund state efforts to provide for healthy and sustainable natural resources.”
Supporters of the special day are calling on Texas hunters and anglers to invite someone to go hunting or fishing, whether a first-timer, child or grandchild, friend, co-worker or neighbor.
The day recognizing hunter/angler conservationists was created by Congress in 1971, but the tradition goes way back. Led by President Theodore Roosevelt, in the 1900s hunters and anglers urged sustainable use of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to pay for wildlife conservation. This created the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that has yielded dramatic conservation successes in Texas and across the nation.
These days, a new generation of urbanites interested in natural, locally sourced food is bringing fresh interest to hunting and fishing as ways to put healthy, free range fare on the dinner table.
The age-old tradition is still alive and well in small towns across the state. This fall, the Texas Parks and Wildlife public TV series rolls out a special half-hour episode documenting the opening day of deer season in Goldthwaite, a town of about 1,800 souls between Lampasas and Brownwood, with a companion feature story in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.
“Come deer season, it’s like Easter Sunday in the Baptist Church here,” says visitor Stan Laukhuf, who drove from Dallas to hunt in Goldthwaite last year. “The motels and hotels have been booked up since last year. It’s also the lease money that helps a lot of these ranches that would otherwise be scraping by to try to make a living. They can make as much or more from just the deer leasing as they can from the ranching.”
More than 1.1 million people hunt each year in Texas, generating $2.12 billion in retail sales and supporting more than 36,000 jobs, according to a study by Southwick Associates. Likewise for Texas fishing, 2.2 million anglers generate more than $2 billion in sales and close to 30,000 jobs.