BHA's 10th Annual Rendezvous Breaks Down a Bison and Brings Out a Party

News for Immediate Release
June 14, 2021
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

Attendees share stories, gain skills, rally for public lands and waters at a massive campout in western Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ North American Rendezvous drew an appreciative crowd of public lands hunters, anglers, gatherers and others to western Montana this month for three days of camping, seminars, backcountry skills sessions, speakers, fun and games to kick off the post-pandemic summer season with a bang.

Attendees from across the continent rallied to Fort Missoula, site of BHA’s first Rendezvous, for the group’s 10th annual member gathering June 3-5. BHA’s first major in-person gathering since the pandemic began drew hundreds of attendees to the biggest public lands party of the year, growing diverse partnerships, raising funds for conservation, and building support for North America’s wild public lands and waters, fish and wildlife, and hunting and fishing heritage.

Ted Koch, chairman of BHA’s North American board of directors, affirmed that the 2021 Rendezvous provided a welcome respite following a challenging year.

“The BHA North American Rendezvous was the first large gathering for almost all of us, and we were hungry for it,” said Koch. “You could feel the love among fellow public land owners. Even the vendors were hungry for the opportunity to travel and gather. It was a true rendezvous of spirit in a perfect outdoor setting."

Beginning with two days of meetings and volunteer trainings on Wednesday and Thursday, BHA Rendezvous opened its doors wide to the public with a slate of events showcasing opportunities and issues facing public lands and waters along with some of the outdoors community’s most prominent voices. Held entirely outdoors, this year’s events featured returning favorites such as Campfire Stories and the BHA Wild Game Cookoff – at which BHA’s Minnesota chapter unseated two-time champions the Arizona chapter – as well as speakers addressing topics ranging from public lands foraging to when to punch (or not punch) your tag.

“It’s always a great time to see old friends and meet new faces. The BHA Rendezvous is a great gathering to celebrate wild food and wild places,” said Randy Newberg, host of Fresh Tracks and Hunt Talk Radio. “It’s exciting to see so many young folks showing the energy and enthusiasm needed to give voice to the special places we love.”  

A Rendezvous highlight was on Friday morning with the breakdown of an entire freshly killed bison. Montana Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, joined other attendees with the Blackfeet’s Brave Dog Society to lead the breakdown, address the history of the bison and its traditional uses, and provide historical context. Throughout Friday and on Saturday, participants learned how to make use of all parts of a bison.

“Buffalo offer us a great way for everyone to come together,” said Running Wolf. “If we don’t have the fear of bison back on a landscape, it’s going to benefit everybody – and maybe even lead to us hunting in partnership together. 

Over 40 influential names in the outdoor industry stepped forward to support public lands and waters in Missoula. Lead sponsors included First Lite, goHUNT, Traeger Grills and Vortex Optics. Also supporting the event were American Prairie Reserve, Black Coffee Roasting Company, Benchmade, Burch Barrel, Costa, Danner, Far Banks Enterprises, FHF Gear, Four Wheel Campers Montana, Gastro Gnome Meals, Gerber, Go Fast Campers, Goal Zero, GrizzlyFish, HitchFire, Hunters of Color, Karmik Outdoors, Lookout Throwing Company, McCall Angler, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Trout Unlimited, Muley Fanatic Foundation, Mystery Ranch Backpacks, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, New Belgium, North American Non-Lead Partnership – The Peregrine Fund, NRS, onX, Passalacqua Winery, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Planetary Design, Savage Arms, Sawyer Paddles and Oars, Seek Outside, Spotted Bear Spirits, Stag Arms, Stone Glacier, University of Montana, Waterworks-Lamson, Weatherby, Wilderness Survival Systems, Work Sharp and Weston Brands.

“Vortex is a strong supporter of public lands, both in creating new access and preserving what’s already out there to enjoy,” said Sawyer Briel, marketing communications manager for Vortex Optics, which had a standout presence at the 2021 Rendezvous. “Whether you’re a hunter or shooter, the more we can all work together to ensure that these opportunities to enjoy the outdoors remain open to everyone, the more we will see interest in these activities we all cherish continue to grow.” 

“The 2021 Rendezvous is now in the books, and we did what we came to do – fill our proverbial buckets,” said Land Tawney, BHA president and CEO. “The outdoor venue, festive atmosphere, amazing lineup and the late-night campfires will not soon be forgotten. A highlight among highlights for me personally was the breakdown of the bison by the Blackfeet Nation and members of our own organization. 

“All future Rendezvous will be measured by what just took place,” Tawney concluded. “Thanks to our members, corporate partners, volunteer leaders, and especially our bad ass staff for making it all happen. The bucket is not only full; it’s overflowing!”  

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers was formed around an Oregon campfire in 2004. Since then, BHA has established itself as the leading voice of North American public lands users, including hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists. BHA has chapters in 48 states, two Canadian provinces and one territory, and Washington, D.C.

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