Many people will be going wild about wildlife this weekend.
Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day with the theme "A Natural Invitation to Step Outside," and numerous clubs have planned sportsmen training sessions, shooting competitions and outdoor demonstrations during the weekend. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has designated Saturday as a Fish for Free day in all of that state's waters.
Three major events, free and open to all, will draw thousands of Western New Yorkers to area activities:
Wood & Brook Sportsmens Club, one quarter mile east of Crittenden Road on Route 33 (Genesee Street) in Alden, holds its National Hunting and Fishing Day Outdoor Program from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, with free admission, free parking and free access to all events and exhibits. The club, in conjunction with the NYS Conservation Council and Erie County Federation of Sportsmens Clubs, will have 22 booths plus instruction and demonstration areas for archery, shotgun, .22 rifle and blackpowder shooting, retriever and trapper exhibits, and Simon Girty long rifle and period costume shows and discussions.
Indoors, experts will explain and illustrate shell reloading, jig and fly tying, taxidermy, arrow head collecting, wildlife art, photography, antique lure collecting and appraisal, plus many other hands-on activities.
The program is designed to go during bright sunshine or rain so that all who attend have an opportunity to see and experience many aspects of hunting and fishing offered along club's back acres and around the pond.
One program highlight will be a drawing for a free lifetime hunting and fishing license, which children signed up for at the Erie County Fair.
The New York Power Authority's Wildlife Festival will be held this year at Academy Park on Center Street in Lewiston as part of Lewiston's 175th Anniversary celebration. Previous National Hunting and Fishing Day festivals held at the Power Vista have drawn more than 10,000 visitors during the day's proceedings.
Academy Park will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., offering exhibits, ongoing live demonstrations and hands-on interactive activities. Conservationist Paul Schnell will show and describe his bald eagle "Liberty" and other live birds of prey. Handlers will give retriever dog demonstrations and Knight and Hale Game Calls will show how to sound natural to animals.
The Wondermakers Interactive Storytheater presents "Animal Takes" at 11 a.m. and a Glenn Colton "Love Your Mother Nature" concert starts at 2 p.m. Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs, co-sponsor of this event, promises "more wild surprises throughout the Wildlife Festival."
Department of Environmental Conservation Region 8 headquarters at Avon has become a gathering point for 10,000 to 20,000 visitors for 24 years of the 26 years the national event has been held.
This year's celebration goes from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at DEC headquarter grounds on Routes 5 and 20 halfway between East Avon and Lima, 1 1/2 miles east of Interstate 390.
The Avon event, the first major NH&FD outing staged in Western New York, now regularly draws outdoors folk statewide and from neighboring states. The parking area each year holds many vehicles with license plates from Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Province of Ontario.
People come to see models of canoes and boats on display, ATV and cycle exhibits, extensive taxidermy mounts, wildlife artists and photographers, and even a demonstration of chainsaw carvings.
New York State Bowhunters operate an archery range. Organizations will be on hand to explain their functions: Ted Nugent World Bowhunters, the Canandaigua Chapter of Trout Unlimited, SAREP (4-H fishing) projects, NYS Conservation Officers Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the NYS Big Buck Club, Tri County Trappers, Finger Lakes Trail Conference, plus many other group projects. Noted individuals on hand include Barbara Olds (wildlife rehabilitator), Marty Dodge (chain saw furniture; Saturday only), Ed Snyder (broadheads) and Tony Costanza (venison processing).
National Hunting and Fishing Day and weekend will be a busy two days for Western New York outdoors enthusiasts in search of things to see and do.