Feb 23,2007 00:00
A high-pitched, shrill whistle rumbles from deep inside the chest of a majestic bull elk (Cervus elaphus) and echoes through the aspen-dotted hills in the evening's final light. The sound, now as recognizable to millions of Americans as the animal that produced it, could mean lots of things: a long-distance call to a prospective mate or a warning to intruding bulls to stay away. But for those whose hairs still stand on end when they hearing the beautifully unique vocalizations, the bugle of a bull elk is a song of celebration.
The link between elk and man goes back to Native American tribes who depended on the large member of the deer family for food, clothing and shelter. Depictions of elk and their importance to ancient societies can be found in the cave drawings of the Anasazi and Freemont and can be seen in the traditional tribal clothing worn by tribesmen of the Kootenai, Cree, Ojibwa and Pawnee tribes. For the Ogala, the elk was considered a dominant spirit animal and they associated it with love and passion, strength, courage, persistence and swiftness.
On Saturday, September 22, 2007, millions of Americans will celebrate the success of the elk and many other species as part of National Hunting and Fishing Day activities that will be going on nationwide. National Hunting and Fishing Day began after a presidential proclamation in 1972 that sets aside the fourth Saturday of each September for the event. Since then, national, regional, state and local organizations have staged some 3,000 open house hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges to suburban frog ponds, providing an estimated four million Americans with a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor sports.
The careful elk conservation efforts of the past have given millions of people the thrill of hearing the elk bugle across the distance, to view it in its natural habitat and to restore its population to huntable populations. Conservation groups, sportsmen and women and wildlife watchers alike are all stakeholders in the future of the elk, to ensure that the far-off bugle of elk hangs in the chilly autumn air long enough for future generations to hear.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate the conservation successes of hunters and anglers. National Hunting and Fishing Day is observed on the fourth Saturday of every September.