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.


Faces of BHA: Daniel Schapaugh

Daniel Schapaugh, Age 32, Manhattan, KS

What’s your favorite style of hunting or fishing?

Primitive bowhunting adventures, including trips with minimal modern gear, emphasizing an awareness of true human needs.

DSchapaugh 2What do you do for a living? 

I work for Kansas State University Recreational Services.

Why did you join BHA?    

I joined because with a balanced approach BHA is addressing the problems that harm the foundations of the North American Model of fish and wildlife management. The principles of protecting and expanding large, wild, and intact public habitat are beneficial in perpetuity to our economic, ecological, hunting, fishing, social and spiritual interests. Over the last 10-15 years it has become harder to find sportsmen organizations dedicated to these issues, that quite frankly, are of ultimate importance.      

Ethics: Sharing Our Public Lands

Elk picBy BHA Development Associate, Grant Alban.

Even as I begin to write this, I’m still not sure what I should have done. Everyone has different opinions about what’s right and what’s wrong. How can someone else who considers himself to be ethical feel differently about a situation than I do, when I too, consider myself ethical? I don’t have an answer for that question, but it seems that the most I can ask from my fellow sportsmen is that when they face an ethical dilemma, they do their best to see both sides.

A couple of years ago, after months and months of research, I found my spot. My research and map reading and Google-earthing had presented me with what I was declaring my elk hunting honey hole before I had even been there.   My two elk hunting partners and I called this place the Wooded Glen Guarantee (named changed for privacy sake) because it looked so perfect.

Still having not been there, we settled on one particular park that we would hunt opening morning about 3 miles from the end of the road. It wasn’t going to be a particularly tough hike, so we didn’t set the alarm for too early. When the alarm did go off, we went through our routine and headed up the trail. Young and fit, we cruised up the mountainside, only stopping to shed layers. About a mile from the park – which was not a particularly big park, mind you – we came across an older gentleman walking up the trail. We stopped to talk to him for a minute-- because for all the people in the world, I feel I have the most in common with an elk hunter who is away from the road. With opening day’s shooting light only an hour away, we parted ways, but not before asking him where he was headed. Sure enough, he was headed to the exact same little park tucked away in the timber.

Rediscovering Human Wildness: Backcountry Hunting as a Gateway to Passionate Advocacy for Wilderness

The following is an abstract BHA Member, Karl Malcolm, Ph.D. for a presentation that will be given at the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, National Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 15-19, 2014.

Malcolm2012Bull 2The modern wilderness movement as we know it germinated in the fertile glow of a hunter’s campfire a century ago. Humankind stalked the animals sharing their habitats when “wilderness” would have described all corners of our planet during the Pleistocene. More now than ever wilderness provides sanctuary for wildlife and humans alike, a cherished holdout offering reconnection to land, nature, family, food, and our past.

Personal connections to wild places inspire hunters to be among the most devoted advocates for wilderness yet there is a perceived division between hunters and other backcountry aficionados. The degree of future success in conserving, promoting, expanding, and stewarding wilderness will depend on how well various stakeholders find common ground and present a cohesive front on behalf of wild places. Securing acres in the public domain and ensuring public access to those lands, including wilderness, should be a paramount goal to all conservationists and all conservation organizations, regardless of any other differences that might exist.

Shout-out to my gear: “What up, Gear!”

binos picBy BHA Development Associate, Grant Alban

With an elk and an antelope in my freezer, the sun began to set on my hunting season. The last two days I did give in to a mildly frantic desperation that had me trying to fill my deer tag – but alas, nothing. Back in my garage that Sunday night, I emptied my hunting pack with some relief. Hunting was over for the year. The thing that I had looked forward to for so long had come and gone – but with it came sleeping in, fewer stops at the gas station and a sense that I gave it my all. For the next two or three weeks I would continue to eat like I was still hiking 8-10 miles a day off-trail (and then it’s the Holidays …and then) but I digress.

Emptying out my pack I noticed gear that I had used several weeks or months ago. Items fell on the concrete that I hadn’t taken the best care of, but I always know they’ll be there next year when I need them.

Fencelines

By Tim Brass

fenceline

It was lunchtime and I had managed to escape from the computer, put on a pair of cross-country skis and take a few laps around the perimeter of my landlord’s property. It was an hour that any outdoor enthusiast dreams of: walking out the front door, grabbing a rod or gun or pair of skis and getting-after-it - without having to pile in the truck or compete with others for a shot at snagging a rising trout, shooting a cupping goose, skiing fresh, untouched snow.

As I circled the fenced pasture and approached the corner of the plot, an immature bald eagle rose from a craggy legacy cottonwood, swooping over the neighbors grove – the grove just on the other side of the fence, the grove that always harbors flocks of taunting Eurasian Doves. Watching from the corner of ‘my’ land I couldn’t help but feel a bit like the guy on the treadmill, in the sweaty gym. I was him, a guy stuck exercising in a cage (albeit an outdoor cage).

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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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