Growing up in north Louisiana, hunting and fishing was a given. We didn’t need a national day to remind us to wet a hook or shoot something tasty to eat. It’s just what we did.
My dad hunted most things there was a season for and a few things there wasn’t a season for.
He hunted with bows, guns and dogs, and probably would’ve used a falcon, too, if he had the patience for it.
He also fished year-round, with bass being his favorite catch.
If the kids were going, he’d switch to perch, blue gill or catfish — something that could be caught with a bobber.
He’d also run yo-yos, those automatic fisher thingies that you tie to a tree, bait and wait for some unsuspecting critter to bite and get yanked out of the water.
Then, we found out about something called National Hunting and Fishing Day. Our church youth group would troop out to Bayou Bodcau and sell burgers at the daylong event, which featured falconry, archery demonstrations, exhibits for all sorts of outdoor products, camping, boating and other events.
We did a lot of burger-slinging and sightseeing, but to be honest, the main event was at the end of the day, when the grown-ups collapsed the cardboard boxes we’d brought the buns in and let us slide down the enormous hill that was part of the bayou’s spillway. It’s a wonder none of us died.
So a recent phone call from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries about National Hunting and Fishing Day brought back some fond memories. But as it turns out, the Baton Rouge version of the festival is about a lot more than hunting and fishing.
The National Hunting and Fishing Day Outdoor Festival, as it’s now called, will feature geocaching, birding, kayaking and other events in addition to the shooting ranges and fishing contests I remember.
“It’s not just hooks and bullets,” said Gabe Giffin, DWF public information officer. “It’s just a great day for anyone interested in the outdoors.”
And that includes eating in the outdoors. The Louisiana Culinary Institute will prepare game such as boar, venison and catfish, and it will hand out free samples. This year’s festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Waddill Outdoor Education Center, 4142 N. Flannery Drive.
Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@the advocate.com.
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