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.

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.

We Could Be Deer Hunters After All

sunrise archerBy Nick Obradovich, co-founder of Modern Hunters.

My girlfriend Robyn and I had gone nine long weekends in a row without seeing deer. That included all of our pre-season scouting and all of bow season. Talk about disheartening. Not seeing any animal of the species we were after significantly reduced our motivation to hunt. While it was our first attempt at hunting deer, we expected that we'd at least see something. Perhaps we just weren't cut out for this, or perhaps the desert surrounding where we live just didn't have any real deer. Maybe someone just came along with a deer hoof imprinting tool and a bag of fresh scat, sprinkling both around in healthy doses for us to follow around aimlessly. Yeah... we just weren't cutting it. Quitting was on the mind.

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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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