This article was brought to you by Morsel whose camping spork is the perfect utensil to throw in your pack for day-long hunting trips—or for camping on National Hunting and Fishing Day!
National Hunting and Fishing Day is tomorrow (September 28, 2019). It’s a chance for sportsmen and anglers to celebrate the outdoor pastimes they love and their role in conservation. Nearly every state has some kind of event in honor of NHFD 2019, including many opportunities to fish for free, learn about state and local conservation efforts, and enjoy hunting demonstrations.
It’s a chance for the hunting and fishing communities to bond, and it’s a prime opportunity to embrace the fall camping season, and the unique fishing and hunting opportunities that come along with it. We’ve collected some of the country’s best events in celebration of the day below, each near a campsite so you can extend the fun through the weekend.
The history of this annual recognition began with pioneers of public land preservation, fishing and hunting (like Teddy Roosevelt, among others,) who emphasized the importance of natural lands in the U.S. While the idea for a federally-recognized day didn’t come until a Pennsylvania gun shop owner proposed it in the 1970s, National Hunting and Fishing Day quickly was championed by politicians across the country, and eventually recognized by President Nixon.
If you want to participate in this year’s National Hunting and Fishing Day, these are a number of official events in several states, along with great places to camp nearby where you can make the most of angling, shooting, and natural wonders from coast to coast. If you don’t see an event near you on this list, however, reach out to your local outfitters, shooting ranges, or outdoor groups to find out how you can celebrate, too!
The Tacoma Sportsmen’s Club in Puyallup, Washington is celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day with lessons in gun safety and marksmanship, as well as presentations from conservation organizations on how hunters can take part in crucial ecological management in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. That gives anglers a chance to catch the tail end (pun intended) of salmon season, which is open from August and September on the Puyallup River.
Camp at Dash Point State Park near Tacoma and Puyallup for the best of both salt- and fresh-water fishing in the region. You can dig for clams and oysters year round, but a recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at all Washington state parks, including Dash Point. Dash Point Park also has a public fishing pier with parking available, ADA accessibility for campers with disabilities, restrooms, rain shelter, and a fish cleaning station.
Dash Point features 114 standard campsites, 27 with electrical hookups. Sites can accommodate rigs up to 40 feet, and there is a dump station for RVers. There are also small, heated cabins with queen-size beds and a small table. Tent, cabin, and vehicle campers alike have access to four restrooms and six showers.
“Dash point is one of the cleanest campsites and parks I’ve been to. The beaches are very close to the sites and have lots of room for kids and dogs to hangout and cool off from the heat!” -The Dyrt camper Nikki R.
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a sportsman’s dream setting for celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day in Louisiana. With activities like shotgun shooting, pellet rifles, archery, fishing, kayaking, casting practice, nature trails, retriever demonstrations, and demos from outdoor vendors, there’s a lot to keep everyone entertained. That’s in addition to all the regular attractions you’ll find at Black Bayou, including hiking trails, and a pier from which you can observe wildlife or fish with a permit.
You can’t camp at Black Bayou Lake, but you can plan a trip to the nearby Lake D’Arbonne State Park, where camping is available by tent, RV or cabin. With five fishing piers, flat bottom boats for rent, Lake D’Arbonne is an angler’s paradise; crappie, white perch, and bass can all be caught here. More of a hunter? In between Black Bayou Lake and the campground is the D’Arbonne Wildlife Refuge, where hunting is permitted in season.
“Immense campground with back to forest or lake front and all have RV hookup. RV pumping station available. Campsites near beach and trails. Cabins near the group pavilions and building. Renovated bathrooms and laundry. Kayak and canoe for rent for day. Boat dock and fishing pier.” -The Dyrt camper Timothy H.
Connecticuters are observing National Hunting and Fishing Day a little early this year, to coincide with Discover Outdoor Connecticut Day on September 15th. Activities will include fly-tying workshops, archery and casting practice, filed dog showcase, trapping and moose calling demos, and even axe throwing, along with family-friendly fun for all ages. All the action takes place at Hammonasset Beach State Park, where you can also enjoy excellent camping and fishing.
There’s no hunting at Hammonasset Beach, but there are plenty of bluefish, flounder, striped bass, and blackfish waiting for anglers. During the day, you can cast a line from the Meig’s Point Jetty and at West Beach Jetty, while at night you can fish from anywhere along the two mile beach, except during the winter months. After you’ve caught dinner, head back to your site at Hammonasset. There are 558 open, grassy campsites available for tent and RV campers, as well as a dump station, small general store, bathrooms, and showers.
“The beach area is very user-friendly with several parking lots as well as pavilions to break from the sun. Large bathrooms with showers and dressing rooms complete the amenities and several vending machines for snacks are available. Lots of shells and rocks so bring shoes.” -The Dyrt camper Ali
South Cove County Park is hosting a National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration for South Carolina residents, with archery, air rifle shooting, fishing, kayaking, fly-tying, games, and demos on everything from boating safety, to beekeeping. Because South Cove County Park is situated on a peninsula on Lake Keowee, a fantastic destination for fishermen. In fact, this park regularly hosts bass fishing competitions, and has ADA-accessible piers for campers with disabilities.
That waterfront access is also great news for campers, who can enjoy sites right on the lake. There are 88 tent and RV sites with power & water hook ups, as well as a bathhouse and a dump station. There’s also a swimming beach, tennis courts, and a playground if you’re camping with kids.
“Don’t let the term “County Park” lead you to believe this campground is not up to par with larger campgrounds. You can go into the lake right from your site. There is a nice store at the campground office where you can by camp wood at a very reasonable price.” -The Dyrt camper Cheryl W.
Anglers know just how abundant good fishing is across Georgia, so whether you’re looking for a fun spot close to home or a getaway in a different corner of the state, you’ve got plenty of options. Best of all, the state is offering a Free Fishing Day in honor of National Hunting and Fishing Day. No permit is needed September 28th to fish public waters.
In addition to free fishing, there are a whole host of Georgia National Hunting and Fishing Day events at parks throughout the state. One of the most jam-packed is taking place at James H. Sloppy Ford State Park near Summerville, Georgia. Activities include fishing, archery, a BB gun range, as well as general weekend fun like canoeing, live animal displays, a snake show and even a climbing wall.
James H. Sloppy Ford State Park is also a great family-friendly spot for camping trips and hunting trips, depending on the season. Close to the southern tip of the Johns Mountain Wildlife Management Area, sportsmen can harvest deer, bear, turkey and small game here. There are also hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, as well as a shooting range for target practice. In addition to the amenities for hunters, families will enjoy the boardwalk, paddle boats, and friendly flocks of ducks who dwell on Lower and Upper Lake, as well as the boat ramps and playgrounds. Accommodations include four cottages, 25 sites for tents or RVs, four primitive sites, and four picnic shelters for day use. Anglers will appreciate the ADA-accessible fishing pier, too.
“I love the set up of the campground. It is a winding, hilltop, one way road through the campground which adds to the privacy of the sites. There are double sites to pick from and a nice handicap site next to the showerhouse. At the far end there is a playground and one site right behind it.” -The Dyrt camper Shelley S.
New York State
The Empire State has also declared National Hunting and Fishing Day a fr ee fishing day in public waters, in addition to hosting events all over the state. One such is taking place at Onondaga County Parks, a two-day extravaganza with a lot to keep sportsmen both educated and entertained.
The event, sponsored by Honeywell, is hosted specifically at Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery near Elbridge. Happenings include clay target shooting, waterfowl identification workshops, turkey and predator calling demonstrations, and trout fishing demonstrations, among others. A number of speakers will be giving presentations on wilderness training, and cooks and tanners will be demoing how to prepare wild game recipes.
Camp nearby at Cross Lakes Park Campground, where you can really enjoy the water. With 150 sites for tents and RVs up to 40 feet, Cross Lakes can definitely handle a crowd. Amenities include a boat launch, boat rentals, a camp store for any sundries you forgot, and laundry. Swimming and fishing are popular here, and a full marina is just four miles away.
Hawaii is sometimes more associated with snorkeling and sunbathing than sportsmen. But there’s a lot to keep hunters and fishermen busy on the 27th annual National Hunting and Fishing Day in Hawai‘i will be observed with archery, trap shooting, muzzleloading, fish casting contests and fishing demonstrations at Koko Head Shooting Complex in Honolulu. The event is taking place a little earlier than other celebrations on the mainland, occurring Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Camp nearby at Bellows Field Beach Park, a spot once favored by the Obama family when they lived in Hawai’i. There are fifty campsites with two restrooms, two outdoor showers, and two lifeguard stations. There is a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to provide security, but with the beautiful beach views there’s nowhere better to be on Oahu.
“You need to be active or a veteran of the military to rent the cabins but the other side is set for civilians. Amazing views with climbing nearby at Makapu’u point/lighthouse. This beach is good for relaxing but the beach just the the NW of Makapu’u is great if you’re a decent surfer or bodyboarder.” -The Dyrt camper Alan B.
Back on the mainland, Missouri is ringing in National Hunting and Fishing Day at Andy Dalton Shooting Range near Springfield with an hour of free shooting on the rifle, shotgun, and archery ranges, with a round of trap or skeet included, as long as you bring your own firearm and ammo. The Andy Dalton Range is, appropriately enough, located in the Bois D’Arc Conservation Area. The name Bois D’Arc name comes from French, but refers to the tree the Osage tribe used to make their bows. Hunting for deer, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, dove, and quail is popular here.
Camp nearby at the Springfield / Route 66 KOA, a tidy spot with nice extras like ice cream socials, pedal cart rentals, and gemstone mining. There’s even more to do in the area, like exploring the popularized Route 66, rest stops, natural wonders and all.
“The staff were very friendly and helpful. The campsites were gravel and unlevel. WiFi and cell service were good. Bathrooms were clean. The kids enjoyed the pizza they make here and they will deliver it to your campsite when ready. I did wake up several times in the night to the sound of trains or planes passing by. The train tracks are right next to the campground. Nice place to stay.” -The Dyrt camper Jennifer H.
The New Jersey Beach Buggy Association is hosting a National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration at Island Beach State Park, where the emphasis will be on ocean angling. Park entry is free for volunteers and participants, as long as you mention the NJBB event at the gate. Striped bass, bluefish, summer founder, and weakfish are all common catches here, as well as tautog and false albacore, so bring your surfcasting gear!
There’s no camping at Island Beach State Park, so pitch your tent nearby at Baker’s Acres, situated in the beautiful Pine Barrens region. With three hundred wooded campsites, a saltwater swimming pool, convenience store, arcade, video library, playground, ball field, hot showers, and laundry facilities, this is definitely a home-away-from-home atmosphere. Baker’s Acres is also a short drive from the coast, amusement parks, and other fun New Jersey attractions.
“This was our 5th year camping at Baker’s Acres. Their slogan is “Where friends are made for life” and they couldn’t be any more right. This is the friendliest, family run for 50+ years, clean, fun, campground we’ve been to in a long time.” -The Dyrt camper Karen S.
Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Association is the place to be for National Hunting and Fishing, with a fun schedule of events starting with an 8 a.m. fishing derby, 9 a.m. pistol shoot, 10 a.m. rimfire followed by refreshments that include ham and bean soup and cold beer. State Game Land 100 is nearby— a small segment of the million and a half aces of state game lands acquired with funds from hunting license sales since 1920.
Not only does this provide a place for sportsmen to hunt in Pennsylvania, it’s also used for conservation thanks to the Working Together for Wildlife Program. Funds from use of game lands in the Keystone State are being used in Pennsylvania to reintroduce the osprey, river otter, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon, as well as build houses for endangered bluebirds.
Also convenient to the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Association is Parker Dam State Park, where 800 acres are available for deer, turkey, grouse, bear, rabbit, and squirrel hunting, as well as trapping and seasonal dog training. Hunting is also available in the 180,000 acres of Moshannon State Forest around Parker Dam State Park.
In addition to ample opportunities for sportsmen, Parker Dam has grassy tent and RV sites near the lake, most with electricity and some with full hookups, as well as 16 rustic cabins. Backpackers can also use Parker Dam as a starting point for a multi-night trek along the Quehanna Trail System, a 75 mile loop through two state forests.
“We loved it here!! First time here. Very spacious site with full hook up. #76 Next to camp host who were terrific. Deer came up to campsite every morning. Came to do some elk viewing. About 30 -40 min drive to Benezette. Already booked for next year!!” -The Dyrt camper Shirley M.
Kids and outdoor enthusiasts new to hunting and fishing can use the holiday in Mississippi to learn hunting and fishing skills at the Outdoorama at Ross Barnett Reservoir. Demonstrations and lessons will show hunters and anglers of all ages how to shoot, reload shells, tie flies, and cast for catfish, as well as how hunting dogs work and what elk horns are like! The free event is put on by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation to educate a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts.
You can also camp at Ross Barnett Reservoir at Timberlake Campground, where there are hundreds of sites on a peninsula extending into the lake. There are numerous boating and fishing piers, playgrounds, and tennis courts, multi-purpose trails, a TV room, and full-hookup RV sites.
“It’s close to lots of restaurants and any other store you would need anything from. The lake water is clean for the most part. There is a park right next to the campgrounds with different things to do such as disc golf and soccer goals.” -The Dyrt camper Brendyn B.
The Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism Operations Office’s Hunting and Fishing Day celebration will take place on September 28th, and includes a fishing derby for kids in different age groups, all-ages catch-and-release fishing at Centennial Pond, a falconry demo, 3D archery, canoeing, casting lessons, nature center programming, and a free lunch!
Continue the fun near Pratt, Kansas at Kingman State Fishing Lake, which is full of catfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, sunfish, and bluegill. Camping is free, first-come, first-served and quite primitive, but is shaded by cottonwoods and offers picturesque views. Picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets and one picnic shelter are available, but no other amenities are on offer.
“I have camped here every year. The people are friendly and fishing is decent. Great scenery. Always clean. There is a river nearby. Awesome time at the kingman state fishing lake.” -The Dyrt camper Dakota H.
Western North Carolina is a mountain paradise, especially for hunters and fishers alike. The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day with interactive fun for all ages that includes outdoor cooking demos, tree stand safety, fly tying and casting practice, tracking lessons, and much more from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Located right on the Davidson River not far from Asheville, close to some of the most magical waterfalls in North Carolina. Sliding Rock Falls, Skinny Dip Falls, and Looking Glass Falls, it’s easy to fold NHFD into a whole weekend of fun.
You can camp closeby, too, at Davidson River Campground. Hikers will appreciate the 2-mile Art Loeb Trail, and almost 4-mile North Slope Trail. Anglers and river tubing fans will like the Davidson River, which is full of trout and ideal for swimming in the summer. And everyone will get comfortable at the 144 shaded campsites, some with water views, and all with the scenery of Pisgah National Forest.
“My family and friends have been going here for years and it has always been an excellent base camp for the area. Great for kids of all ages, tubing down the Davidson river, fish for trout, some of the best single track trails on the east coast, outstanding hiking trails, cultural events, Oskar Blues brewery just down the road, excellent eats abound.” -The Dyrt camper Curtis D.
New Mexico is another state with free angling opportunities on National Hunting and Fishing Day. The best way to take advantage of the waved permit fee is to camp all weekend by the water. The San Juan River, for example, is a fantastic fly fishing destination. Taos, New Mexico is best known for its art scene and quirky glamping, but is another place where anglers can find plentiful trout. The Cimarron River is another trout hotspot, as well as perch and pike, while wildlife viewing is abundant on shore. Santa Rosa, New Mexico is lush with swimming holes fed by the Pecos River, which trout also enjoy as much as human swimmers and paddlers.
It’s hard to beat Elephant Butte State Park, though, for a weekend of fishing and camping. New Mexico’s largest state park blends creature comforts with lake access and lots of fish. There are areas for motorized and non-motorized boat use as well as fishing piers (including those that are ADA-accessible) that will help you get at the record-breaking bass and walleye lurking in Elephant Butte Lake. There are 173 campsites, of which eight have full hookups, and some of which are right on the beach or have boat-in accessibility. In addition to boating, fishing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding the lake, you can also go scuba diving here!
“Elephant butte is great for a short getaway. You can rent kayaks, jets skis & more while you’re there. I bring my own kayak and go at least 2X a year. My favorite part is grabbing a floaty and float down to caballo lake a smaller lake that connects by river.” -The Dyrt camper Christy L.
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