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.


Wilderness, Thoreau, and Me

tim-meadBy Tim Mead, Author of Quetico Adventures.

Wilderness. The word conjures up different things, depending on each individual’s perspective.

For some, wilderness is the trackless desert of the southwest. For some, wilderness is the urban jungle. For me, wilderness is the boreal forest stretching across North America from ocean to ocean. In my version of wilderness, there are no roads, no conveniences, few people.

Wilderness, despite a widespread assumption, is not hostile. A number of years ago I watched a TV documentary on the life of the arctic fox. The narrator kept referring to the “hostile environment” the fox lived in. Deep snow much of the year when mice and other prey were hard to catch. Yet for the fox, this is the best environment. And that’s why the fox lives there rather than in downtown Los Angeles.

In part, the appeal of wilderness for me springs from summers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the early 1950s, my parents bought a substantial property in the woods a mile or so from what was then a gravel road. In a couple of years, there was a cabin on the land and we visited often. As I grew more confident, I wandered farther afield. Once while in high school I awoke before anyone else, slipped on my clothes and headed out. I saw fresh deer tracks along a dirt road and began following them along a trail parallel to the lake. Suddenly, startling both of us, a buck jumped up a few feet ahead of me and crashed off through the underbrush.

Collaboration is coming to a forest near you

meetingBy Idaho BHA Member, Derek Farr.

Whether you’re hunting elk north of Albuquerque or hunting moose north of Anchorage, “collaboration” is the new catchword in federal land management. There’s a good chance your favorite public lands will be administered through a collaborative process in the near future. Here’s what I learned during a collaborative at the Nez-Perce/Clearwater National Forest (NCNF) in central Idaho. It was one of the first forests to adopt the process.  

What is collaboration?

According to the Forest Service, collaboration is: “A structured manner in which a collection of people with diverse interest share knowledge, ideas and resources while working together in an inclusive and cooperative manner toward a common purpose.”

In other words, it’s a series of meetings where people with widely different interests (e.g. motorized and non-motorized) get together to make recommendations on changes to public land planning and projects.

What is its purpose?

50 Reasons Why We Hunt Wilderness

Backpack-huntingSolitude, spirituality, wild food, challenge and escape were the themes of responses our Facebook Fans gave when we asked "I hunt Wilderness because ____."  In recognition of 50 years of the Wilderness Act, we've compiled 50 reasons why BHA fans choose to hunt the Wilderness...

1. I hate hunting in crowds!!!!!!!!! -Robert Benavidez 

2. It's therapeutic. -Patrick Smith

3. I seek solitude. -Luke Johnson

4. For the beauty of nature. Its the closest you can come to how the world in its purest form that you can get in touch with. And get in touch with your purest self. -Shawn Maver

5. That's what men do. -Bill Lamb

6. I feel so much closer to what the good lord has given us. -Harold Cohick

7. It is where I belong. -Peter Morrow

8. I do it for the adventure and the challenge. -Sean West

9. There are few humans. -Bryan Lipscy

10. I seek the path less traveled. -Trevor Herrman

11. No ATVs, no Keystone Light cans! -Mark Penninger

Fishing the Backcountry

47 James RivercombBy Grant Alban

If you’re like me (or shhh, my wife), you often have trouble pulling fish out of big rivers.  Here in western Montana there is no shortage of great trout water (or so I’m told) – and that certainly seems to be the case…for others.  I’m not a novice angler.  I do occasionally catch fish when I go out and I have had some good days, but ususally they aren’t so good.  I can read water and I understand where fish should be holding, but often times, most times, I don’t catch them.  This could be attributable to several factors: not using the right fly, not having a perfect drift, not setting the hook when I do have a strike.  Could be one, or all of those, I don’t really know.  The truth is, it’s frustrating.  In a city like Missoula where I’m surrounded by world class flyfisherman and women, I am thrilled to catch 3 11-inch cutthroats in 8 hours of floating.  Sad, I know. 

DIY Elk Hunting Tips, Part 3

By Sean Clarkson

187-Chance-HundleyNow, we are finally getting into the gear that unfortunately too many hunters spend too much time contemplating long before the ones that we already discussed.  It’s not that these next few items aren’t important; they are.  It’s simply that in order of priority for a successful hunt, they rank behind the ones we discussed because they will be used less, will impact your hunt to a lesser degree, and are probably items that you already have, which will at least suffice for a while.  The boots, pack, and shelter and sleeping system aren’t nearly as “sexy” as optics, clothing, firearms, and knives, but they will change your hunt – for better or worse – far more than those four glamor gear categories.

Glass

After boots, pack, and a sleeping system, good optics are the next most important thing on your gear list.  This includes binoculars, rangefinders, and for rifle hunters a riflescope.  To me, binoculars are the most important of all.  I’d rather have a great set of binoculars, no rangefinder, and an iron-sighted rifle (or my bow), than no binos and the best rangefinder or scope money could buy.  You will spend a lot of time behind your binoculars, scanning ridgelines and openings, dissecting dark timber, and picking apart drainages.  Getting the best quality binoculars you can afford will make this time more productive – because you will see more and more clearly – and more enjoyably – because you will have less eye strain and headaches.   Hours glassing means miles not hiked, and in the end, if you can find them with your eyes then you can get to them with your feet more efficiently.

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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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