In addition to the opening of the statewide archery deer season, Sept. 23 marks National Hunting and Fishing Day, a special day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in conserving America’s wildlife and wild places.

Join the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to celebrate the true heroes of North America’s conservation story – hunters and anglers whose license fees and taxes pay for conservation work throughout the nation.

All AGFC nature centers and education centers as well as the AGFC’s shooting range in Mayflower will be open on National Hunting and Fishing Day, and most will have special programming dedicated to the event.

“Our facilities often offer the first real exposure to the outdoors for many people,” said Doug Newcomb, AGFC chief of education. “With many people growing up in cities and not being from a hunting or fishing family, a trip to a nature center may be the first step in the journey of becoming a lifelong hunter or angler.”

Newcomb says all nature centers and education centers offer instruction in hunting and fishing as well as detailed information about the habitat that is vital to wildlife in Arkansas.

“We teach about everything from the invertebrates and nongame species to Arkansas’s big game and waterfowl because they all fit together as a piece of the puzzle,” Newcomb said. “Nearly every hunter or angler I know is an outdoors person first, and that’s what we try to build through our facilities – hunters and anglers who have an appreciation for the whole picture instead of simply the one species they pursue.”

The Fab Five competition at the AGFC’s Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith has become a favorite with guests and includes many of the same competitions as the marksmanship challenge. Chad Lowe, education program specialist at the nature center, says guests may compete in target casting, laser shot, BB gun shooting and archery, but also have the opportunity to try their hand at wall climbing in the Fab Five.

“We also have expanded the archery portion of our event to include 3-D archery, Olympic style archery and even a bowfishing simulation,” Lowe said.

Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/explore-outdoors/nature-and-education-centers/ for more information on AGFC nature and education centers and a calendar of each one’s latest events.