Stories

Letter to Susan

by Scott Stouder

Susan Stouder fishing

Watching a wild trout rise to a fly takes your breath. Watching it in a wild river takes your soul. Last summer when I watched both happen to my daughter, it took my heart. And it gave me hope.

I pack our lunches the night before, and gather up gear for both of us. I go to bed excited, wake up at 3:30 and drive up and over the snowy summit, my excitement building – perfect tracking weather. B.J. gets off the train, and it's great to see him.

Susan and I were deep in Idaho's Salmon River country. It had been years since we'd spent time together in wild country. When she was young and we lived together in western Oregon, we spent every spare moment hunting deer and elk in rain-shrouded mountains or fishing in the clear, cold waters of a coastal stream.

I was thinking of those lost years last summer as I watched her brace her feet on a moss-covered rock and strip line from her reel before casting an elk hair caddis into a swirl of river and rocks.

Trouble in Toy Land

by Ben Long

Scent-Lok clothing manufacturers long claimed their product blocks human scent from reaching the sensitive noses of big game – but a judge recently ruled the claims smelled fishy.

The case implicated some of the leading outdoor retailers in consumer fraud. But even more, the case speaks volumes about the state of hunting ethics.

Here's the background: Scent-Lok is name-brand fabric inlaid with charcoal marketed primarily to whitetail deer hunters. The manufacturers claim the layer of charcoal in the fabric absorbs human scent. For about a decade, Scent- Lok sales have brisk, to the tune of $100 million gross sales a year.

B.J.'s Deer by Rick Bass

The plan calls for my younger brother B.J. to fly from Austin to Spokane before catching an Amtrack that will travel east to Libby, arriving about 5:30 Thanksgiving morning. I'll drive over the summit and pick him up, and since he can only stay two days, we'll go hunting straight from the train station.

I pack our lunches the night before, and gather up gear for both of us. I go to bed excited, wake up at 3:30 and drive up and over the snowy summit, my excitement building – perfect tracking weather. B.J. gets off the train, and it's great to see him.

In the train station, he stares blearily at my hunting boots and gaiters, and tries to rally. I feel like a crazy person, an Elmer Fudd kind of fanatic, for having even dreamed that it might be. It's just that I'm so anxious to get him into the winter backcountry, and we have so little time.

"Do you think we could go out later this afternoon?" he asks.

Scott Stouder on Roadless Lands

Scott Stouder has been a freelance writer and is the Western Field Coordinator for Trout Unlimited, focusing on protecting our last remaining roadless country in the United States. He is an avid hunter, angler and wilderness enthusiast as well as being an Advisory Board member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He lives near Riggins, Idaho. This article was originally printed in the Idaho Statesman 11-22-2003. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission

Protect our Roadless Lands, and Protect the Beautiful State of Idaho

Scott Stouder
© Scott Stouder
Scott Stouder in Idaho's Frank Church
River of No Return Wilderness

Last month my wife and I packed into Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for a two- week hunt to renew our spirits and our winter meat supply.

We saw elk, moose, deer and the tracks of wolves, cougar and bears. We watched blue, ruffed and spruce grouse. We marveled at the mosaic of wildlife habitat shaped by centuries of wildfire and the miracle of Chinook salmon spawning in crystal streams hundreds of miles from the ocean.

We also saw other hunters: four backpackers from Washington, others from Oregon and California. Two drove from West Virginia. One of the horse groups trailered their horses from Florida.

The Gift of a Strenuous Life

by Mike Beagle

proud_girl_skylakes

My 8-year-old daughter and I recently stood at the bottom of a brushy, 300-foot cliff and talus slope over looking Blue Lake in southern Oregon's Sky Lakes Wilderness.

For me it was a short climb. For a little girl much smaller than me, the hill looked downright colossal.

But I knew something about my daughter that she is only beginning to learn: her potential.

As a high school teacher and coach over the last 15 years, I have made some disheartening observations regarding the health and welfare of our society's children.

Kids are perhaps the best reflection of America's culture. I've seen too many kids influenced by too much television. I've seen too many kids hooked by commercials advertising "extra value" meals and flashy technological advancements to make our lives "easier." I've seen too many kids too eager for motorized all terrain equipment that can "get us there faster."

In The Heart of the Savage Man

by Tom Reed

In a little more than two weeks, I will saddle a good mountain horse at the edge of one of Wyoming’s largest wilderness areas. My hunting partners and I will load four pack horses with ten days of food, a wall tent, sleeping bags, and hunting gear. We’ll work with an unspoken ease, a familiarity born of repetition and remembrance. This will be our eighth year at this trailhead and memories will be carried with us as easily as these good graceful horses will carry us up this trail. On the way in, perhaps as we have every year, we will cut a track deep in the mud along the creek, a track that says wilderness to us, the track of the grizzly. For us, this great bear defines the wildness of the country. We know that we are in his home.

Jim Posewitz - Survivial of Hunting

posewitz
© Jim Posewitz
Jim Posewitz

New generations replace the old subtly, and we face the new millennium with new people. Among them are hunters who never knew wildlife’s bad times and know little of their own history. Access to hunting opportunity is critical, yet there are some among us who engage in practices of exclusion to give advantage to themselves. The society we are a part of consists of a significant majority who do not hunt, are unaware of the hunter’s history, and unappreciative of the wildlife renaissance crafted by hunters.

Hunting’s survival in our democracy will be decided by people who are neither for nor against hunting. If there is freedom in truth, our liberation from the aggravation of anti-hunters will come as we revive and teach the historical reality to the whole community. The anti-hunting notion that wildlife will flourish when human hunters are retired from all natural communities is a myth that can only flourish where the truth of history is ignored or denied. Hunters can free themselves from this irritation by embracing, and then extending, the conservation ethic of our predecessors. When the public sees us as hunters and as custodians of wildlife, the pedestal of social acceptability will be ours, and hunting will be secure.

David Petersen - Why Do I Hunt?

Why do I hunt? It’s a lot to think about, and I think about it a lot. I hunt to acknowledge my evolutionary roots, millennia deep, as a predatory omnivore. To participate actively in the bedrock workings of nature. For the atavistic challenge of doing it well with an absolute minimum of technological assistance. To learn the lessons, about nature and myself, that only hunting can teach. To accept personal responsibility for at least some of the deaths that nourish my life. For the glimpse it offers into a wildness we can hardly imagine. Because it provides the closest thing I’ve known to a spiritual experience. I hunt because it enriches my life and because I can’t help myself…because I have a hunter’s heart.

Thinking Like a Mountain

by Aldo Leopold

A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world.

Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.

When does a deer become an elk? And other questions…

By Jen Jackson

At what point did moose become marvels, bears become monsters and a 300-yard walk get to be strenuous? When did the human eye need a digital camera to properly experience the unimaginable proportions of the West?

While working for the Park Service at Natural Bridges National Monument in southern Utah, and now for a concessionaire at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, I’ve encountered surprisingly odd questions from visitors. Some recent exchanges:

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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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