How many holidays are there? Actually, the better question is, how many holidays are there today? With an unending number of occasions to be marked and observations to be made, every day on the calendar has at least one.
For example, Sept. 17 has three: Constitution Day, which celebrates the signing of our nation’s most important document in 1787; International Patient Safety Day, which reminds us that medical care can be as dangerous as the conditions it seeks to cure; and National Pet Bird Day, which is mostly a fun excuse for posting pictures of your cockatoo on the internet.
I’m not really celebrating any of those. However, I am looking forward to Sept. 26. The fourth Saturday in September is National Hunting and Fishing Day, so designated by Congress in 1972 and signed into law by President Nixon. Here are some of my ideas for getting into the holiday spirit:
Dress up like your favorite outdoors personality: There’s a lot of possibility here. You can choose from old-time greats like Teddy Roosevelt and Daniel Boone, or go more modern with guys like Jim Shockey and Jeremy Wade. (But not Bill Dance, because Capt. Mike Myers goes as Bill Dance every year.)
Once you’re in costume, go around to all the houses in the neighborhood, ringing doorbells and shouting, “Fish or hunt!” Sure, most people will find this consing and perhaps a bit frightening, especially if you’re carrying a musket. But you’ll have the opportunity to explain the holiday, and then next year they’ll be ready to load your empty creel with all sorts of little outdoor goodies.
Put up a fishing tree: What could be more festive than a beautifully decorated tree, festooned with lures of all colors and sizes, then draped in hundreds of yards of colorful fishing line? Best part is, you don’t even need to do any of this decorating yourself: Just motor up to any random mangrove shoreline and clip off a big ol’ branch, already pre-accessorized.
The cartridge hunt: Fun for kids of all ages. The National Hunting and Fishing Day bunny hides shotgun shells, rifle ammo and pistol cartridges all around the house and the yard, then you stuff a basket with grass and go looking for them. Of course, whoever plays the bunny will need to be careful to choose good and safe hiding spots. Shells hidden in the oven or in a bag of nails, for example, could make the holiday more explosive than it’s supposed to be.
Waiting for Izaak Walton to come down the chimney: If his name isn’t familiar to you, it should be. Walton, who has been dead for nearly 340 years, published “The Compleat Angler” in 1653, and it was a best-seller for its time. He’s revered as one of the fathers of recreational fishing. Now, he flies around the world on this special day, leaving gifts for good fishermen of all ages.
His sidekick is Dame Juliana Berners, who published “A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle” way back in 1496, before spelling was invented. (I believe she also held the original trademark on the phrase “Girls fish too.”) As they’re both old-school anglers, don’t leave milk and cookies on the mantle for them — they prefer beer and Vienna sausages.
Share your love of fishing or hunting with someone else: Of course, this is the best way to celebrate the day. It might be a buddy from way back, a neighbor who sometimes asks how your trip went, a kid whose parents you know from church. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that you get out there and enjoy the outdoors, and that you honor the principles of sportsmanship and conservation. That’s what National Hunting and Fishing Day is all about. Enjoy your holiday.
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.