Explore Articles

Spotlight: America’s Hunting Heritage

Spotlight: America’s Hunting Heritage

Skilled sportsmen and women, novices and non-hunters alike can appreciate this respected conservation and recreation tradition

Fishing_Hunting Hunting and fishing can be great family activities that pass down from generation to generation.

A Rich and Valuable Tradition

Every year around this time, millions of Americans look forward to the chill of the fall season and the thrill of the hunt. Most hunters know the satisfaction of matching wits with nature. There are also strong, life-long bonds created when a young person reaches the right age to accompany adult family members on a hunting adventure.

Today’s American hunters continue a tradition that pre-dates the arrival of European colonists. Unlike early European traditions, the American tradition holds that wildlife is held in trust for the benefit of all people as well as for future generations, and that every citizen—regardless of wealth, social standing, or land ownership—can hunt or fish as long as it is done responsibly.

Take Part in the Tradition

Whether you are a novice or a skilled outdoorsman or woman, whether you’ve only thought about learning to hunt or want to improve your outdoor skills, here are three things you can do to prepare for this hunting season:

  1. Get Safe. Get Certified: Learn to Hunt Safely and Ethically
  2. The first and most important step is to complete a state-certified hunter education course. To prepare for one of these courses, you can start with this convenient online Introduction to Hunter Education provided by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA). Experienced hunters can find advanced and refresher courses, or learn about hunting requirements outside their home state. Read more about hunter safety and education in our Safety During Hunting Season article.

  3. Join National Hunting and Fishing Day Events
  4. National Hunting and Fishing Day events on the fourth Saturday of September, offer a great way to learn (or hone) your hunting and outdoor skills. For over 40 years, this grass-roots event promotes the traditions of hunting and angling and the conservation benefits they provide for all Americans.

  5. Plan Your Hunt
  6. To learn where you can hunt on state, local and private lands as well as the federal lands in each state, visit WhereToHunt.org. Just select the state where you would like to hunt and find everything you need—license and permit requirements, applications and forms, hunter education, laws and regulations and places to hunt.

Stay Here

Camping can be one of the most memorable elements of any hunting trip. Rising early to track game then sharing a mid-morning nap under a tree, or cooking meals together and telling stories by the campfire create lifetime memories. Reserve your favorite campsite today at Recreation.gov.

Hunting on Federal Lands

Federal land management agencies recognize the importance of preserving America’s wildlife and hunting heritage for future generations. Hunting is also a valuable tool for controlling species that might otherwise overpopulate their habitat and threaten the well-being of other species.

For more information on hunting on federal lands, visit these websites:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Be sure and also read the Spotlight article Experience Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges)

U.S.D.A Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

Bureau of Reclamation

Army Corps of Engineers

National Park Service (Use the advanced search, select search by activity and then choose “hunting”)

Did You Know?

An important law to help maintain and conserve the hunting tradition is the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Act, enacted on September 2, 1937.

Hunters fund the Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through taxes paid on firearms, ammunition and other hunting purchases. The funding provides for the selection, restoration, and improvement of wildlife habitat, for wildlife management research, for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and for hunter education programs.

Through Pittman-Robertson, sportsmen and women have contributed more than $14 billion to conservation and annually funded more than 80 percent of most state fish and wildlife agencies, resulting in phenomenal recoveries of deer, turkeys and many non-game species with benefits to hunters and non-hunters alike.

Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps (Duck Stamps) fund a variety of conservation programs that benefit all Americans. And, on the state level, so do hunting and fishing licenses.