When the event welcome speech closes with “one more question, does anyone want to help blood trail a bear?” you know you’re in for a great weekend. Beer, Bands, & Bitterbrush Stands brought together hunters, conservationists, vegans, and volunteers from three generations to build community while working to restore habitat for mule deer, pronghorn, upland game birds, pollinator species and more. This event was the culmination of several years of planning and preparation, and involved planting bitterbrush plugs on public lands that were grown through the Sagebrush in Prison Program, as well as restoring plants of cultural significance to the Washoe Tribe.
Whispers circled around the campfire during Friday night’s wild game potluck as a group of hunters and non-hunters volunteered to head out into the darkness to help find a dead black bear. Feelings of optimism and excitement circled camp throughout the rest of the night as our group of ~30 volunteers enjoyed a juicy elk roast appetizer, followed by freshly shucked, raw oysters, wild boar chili and boar enchiladas, grouse pozole, fresh bread, and of course, Costco mac & cheese for good measure. All of this delicious food was paired with beer donated by the Brewer’s Cabinet and IMBIB Custom Brews out of Reno, as well as from Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company out of Fresno – not to mention wonderful wine from San Joaquin Wine Company.
For five days volunteers braved below freezing temperatures while camping and planting to help restore the Hallelujah Junction Wildlife Area from the impacts of the Loyalton Fire that wiped out critical winter range on these borderlands between California and Nevada. In the evenings participants gathered in the Sierra Valley for live bands, beer, raffles, good company and close gatherings around the campfire.
Not only did all of the several thousand seedlings get planted over the long weekend, but many also shared a meal of beer-braised bear backstraps from the mature black bear that California BHA Board Member Chris Moosios shot on Friday evening. The incredibly delicious meal, seared in its own fat and finished with a fig and wine reduction, was certainly the coup de gras on a signature stewardship project hosted by BHA's California and Nevada chapters.
The best part is the event is happening again next year and it will be bigger and better than ever! Block off your calendars for the last weekend in October for an event that you won't want to miss!
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