NWF's Sportsmen Heritage

Fishing at Sunset

For American sportsmen and women, healthy populations of fish and game are considered a birthright. But woods and waters teeming with bass, trout, elk, ducks and deer didn’t happen by accident.

For more than 150 years, countless individuals have spoken up on behalf of the conservation of our fish and wildlife. As some of America's earliest conservationists, sportsmen and women have played a crucial role in almost every single conservation movement in the last century.

NWF and Sportsmen

National Wildlife Federation was created in 1936 after J.N. Ding Darling, an avid waterfowl hunter and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to invite more than 2,000 hunters, anglers and conservationists from across the country to the first North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, D.C.

Since its inception, National Wildlife Federation has worked to amplify the voices of sportsmen and women, alongside diverse constituencies of gardeners, bird watchers, scientists, outdoor enthusiasts and families, to achieve the common goal of protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat for all species.

Sportsmen cartoon
NWF founder Ding Darling drew this editorial cartoon in 1936 to reflect the first North American Wildlife Conference. The cartoon shows an army of hunters, anglers, gardeners, biologists and children storming the nation's Capitol to pluck a figure dubbed “Congress” from the Capitol dome.

 
Engaging sportsmen and women on key conservation issues is a strength National Wildlife Federation continues to bring to the broader environmental community, especially through our work with our hook-and-bullet affiliates, hunter-angler partner organizations and other coalitions.

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Nowhere To Run
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