Backcountry Blog

A blog about issues affecting the backcountry, secret spots (maybe) and hunting and fishing in wild places by traditional means. If you are interested in posting something to the blog, please email your submission to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Also, to help spread the word about BHA, please feel free to “like” or “share” entries via the integrated facebook links below each entry.

An Admirable Identity: Helping the Hunters’ Legacy Resonate in an Era of Change

The following article appeared in the Winter 2014 Issue of the Ruffed Grouse Society magazine.

By BHA Member, Karl Malcolm

bird camp31 2013 258Visualize a map of the North American continent. Mentally focus on a special, natural place that comes to mind. Maybe it’s a favorite stretch of trout water where the mayfly hatches are like clockwork. Maybe it’s a rugged ridge where a bull elk bugled so close you could feel it in your chest and the hair on the back of your neck stood on end. Maybe it’s a family camping spot you visited during your summer vacations as a kid, or perhaps it’s a favorite birding spot. Maybe it’s a 15-year-old, clear-cut in aspen country on an October afternoon.

Can you point to a special spot on the map where you were personally inspired by the beauty of nature – be it as a hunter, an angler, a wildlife viewer or otherwise? If so take a moment and recall some details. Think about how you interacted with that particular piece of ground. Recall the details of the landscape, its vegetation, its wildlife, your favorite season there, the look of the sky and how your place made you feel. Perhaps you shared the experience of that place with someone else - your parents, your child or a memorable friend? Consider for a moment how that spot has impacted your views on conservation, your views on what is important, what really matters to you personally. 

Curiosity Killed the Doe

By New England BHA Board Member, Corey Ellis

Deer-Hunt-New-EnglandI awoke feeling optimistic about the day’s hunt. After almost forty outings last season trying to harvest my first animal using traditional equipment, it was an unusual feeling. When I moved out east, I had thought that I would have plenty of opportunities to use the more restrictive equipment hunting New Hampshire versus hunting the West, where I had all my life up until this point, because the East Coast is “over run with deer.” Little did I know that New Hampshire has about 5 deer per square mile and even less in the northerly and densely forested part of the state in which I live and hunt.  By way of comparison, Pennsylvania has about 30 deer per square mile.  In fact, there were very few deer here until logging came in and opened up the forest. Our forests are more suited for woodland caribou--long extirpated-- and for moose which are in steep decline, most likely due to a drastic tick increase due to climate change.

It had finally rained some the night before which I was hoping would help alleviate the dry and noisy conditions that had thus far made the hunting season exceptionally difficult. Making things more difficult for myself than necessary, I had decided not to use a tree stand which in these parts comes second only to a bow when in importance if you ask the locals. But, first and foremost, I don’t like heights. And second, l do like hunting new and different environments as often as possible. Besides, man harvested deer without tree stands for millennia. And I don’t like heights.

Every Hunter is an Ambassador: In the social media age, what you say is often held against you

By Ryan Hatfield, Editor of Western Hunter Magazine.

“With Freedom Comes Responsibility.”

19 Levi BecksteadThis quote is credited to Eleanor Roosevelt, but the overall concept has been used and reinforced by many great Americans.

For many years – in fact, perhaps generations – hunters have shared their stories and photos amongst each other, with the overriding assumption being that you have not only a captive audience, but also a receptive one. When you pulled out the album and flipped through the pages, there was little worry about how those photos would be perceived or if some blood or questionable attempts at humorous poses or subject matter would negatively influence the viewer.

With the advent of social media (Facebook, etc.), the last few years have seen a dramatic shift in who is seeing those photos. Nowadays, when a hunter posts a grip-and-grin field photo, chances are good that hunters will be only a fraction of the people seeing that photo. Old classmates, friends of friends, and plenty of non-hunting urbanites will see it directly on their “wall” or happen upon it indirectly through random browsing.

Whitetail Deer Hunting Challenge

deer photoBy Kyle Blasch

Like many hunting enthusiasts I enjoy the challenges and simplicity of traditional bow hunting.   The close proximity required by using a primitive weapon magnifies the hunting experience both in duration of the encounter as well as the intimacy provided by being within a few strides of your quarry.   This past year I was fortunate to find myself with two free weeks during the archery season and decided to try my luck on a truly challenging hunt.  The challenge was to identify a backcountry whitetail deer from afar and stalk up to within shooting range using my traditional bow.  This hunt seems commonplace at first, but in reality, such a hunt is rarely done.  Backcountry whitetails with their sharpened senses and skittish nature present a tremendous stalking challenge.  Thus backcountry whitetails are often taken with more sophisticated weapons at distance, by ambush from ground or tree stands, or by chance encounters on a stalk. 

With this idea in hand I set about developing a set of rules for the hunt and reviewed it with several experienced hunters with whom I have the pleasure to know.  What emerged were the following conditions...

Protecting Our Public Lands

The following article, by Tim Brass, was originally published in the October/November issue of the Outdoor Writers Association of America's Outdoors Unlimited Magazine.

"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune." -Theodore Roosevelt

deer hunt
Tim Brass with his first deer, age 12

It was way back in 1996 when I first stumbled behind my dad and grandpa with a pair of waders two sizes too big and a musty hand-me-down canvas camo coat. We made it to the lone hackberry tree and then waited, and waited …

It was duck opener on a state wildlife area in Western Minnesota and we arrived a good three hours early with ample time to beat the competition to “the spot” – an exercise I would repeat time and time again, almost exclusively on public lands. From the wide Army Corps mud flats in Oregon to the burly Colorado backcountry, our vast public lands are largely to thank for the many hunting experiences that made me who I am.

Looking back, I realize I was born with a silver shotgun in my hand. But where our family was rich in hunting-tradition, we were poor in land. Thus, we learned to share the land set aside generations ago for sportsmen and women of all backgrounds to hunt and fish on – our rich portfolio of public lands.

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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.

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