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.

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By BHA Member, Tom Kotlarz of Silent Mountain Outfitters

British Columbia SheepBeautiful country, but just plain nasty weather. That was the sum of my thoughts on a mountain goat hunt I was guiding. To say it was wet was an understatement; if the rest of the season went like this I wasn’t going to need to shower anytime soon, I’d just need some soap. We were glassing a lone Billy from the bottom of the valley floor, and the climb to get to him was looking more and more disconcerting. If you’ve hunted the high country, you know what kind of day this was. Fog was rolling in and out, rain was turning into snow and then back again, all in all, the Weather Gods couldn’t make up their minds. Matter of fact we couldn’t make up our minds either. By the time we climbed up there, it might have fogged in to the point where we couldn’t see 20 feet. Maybe we should kick back and wait a day for the weather to cooperate. Oh yeah, maybe I should say who “we” are.

A Girl’s First Deer

First DeerBy Robyn of Modern Hunters

"Robyn, I've got eyes on a buck and a doe".

Nick had caught sight of them at 1,000 yards, meandering down a shrubby slope into a deep desert basin. As they dropped out of view, we scrambled down to a lower ridge that would allow us to see down. Way down. Within minutes we had our binoculars on them again as they frolicked near the rare natural palm groves shooting straight out of the arid rock and sand. It was the last weekend of rifle season and I had a buck in my sight. If only I could find a way to get to him.

Just that morning I had been feeling dejected. Hordes of raindrops were smashing into our tent walls in the pre-dawn, creating a ruckus that I couldn't sleep through. As I lay there bundled tightly in my sleeping bag I couldn't stop thinking: in the last eight weeks of hunting desert mule deer I had seen only one buck. The odds of seeing one this weekend didn't seem good.

The worst/best Christmas gift

BB GunBy BHA Development Associate, Grant Alban

I was twelve, almost thirteen years old and it was Christmas time.  Having learned long ago that Santa wasn’t real, I passed the stage of wanting a million presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  Now I only wanted one really cool gift, and in my case, that was a gun.  As I grew up, my parents always seemed a little miffed at how their only son, who lived in the suburbs of Southern California, could be so into guns and hunting.  Sure, my grandpa had hunted and kept a respectable mule deer mount over his fireplace that I always fawned over when we visited, but my passion for all things hunting was borderline psycho.  Example:  on road trips I had my mom quiz me on the ballistics chart found in the gun digest books.  Footpounds of energy at the muzzle produced by a .257 Roberts with a 120 grain bullet?  I don’t know the answer now, but I did then… before girls came along and pushed aside all that priceless information. 

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.

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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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