California Chapter leads backpacking class, Hike to Hunt in San Gabriel Mtns. National Monument

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ members have a passion for backcountry recreation. Still, they have a wide range of experience when it comes to backpacking, and incorporating hunting or fishing into the same. To help familiarize people with backpacking, and increase the skill levels of those already having a solid knowledge, the California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers organized a backcountry introduction and shakeout in the San Gabriel National Monument on June 8th.

The event combined packing lessons for novice and intermediate backpackers, a Hike to Hunt along the mountain streams, a backcountry fly fishing demonstration, presentations on how to select a campsite and set up various types of tents, and even a camp stove demonstration with a taste test of various freeze dried food options. About 20 members attended the event, including two children. Everyone was eager to learn and talk about hunting and fishing in the backcountry. Many brought their own backpacks and gear to share experiences.

After introductions and coffee, the group split into two. Novice backpackers worked with California Chapter Co-Chair Justin Bubenik, who laid out his backpacking gear on a picnic table and discussed the gear he takes in pursuit of backcountry angling opportunities. He discussed basic backpacking necessities, as well as options for sleep systems, water treatment, clothes layering, food, and first aid. The group also discussed the ethics of backcountry camping, including leave no trace principles. After answering questions, Justin took his group down to the nearby stream to demonstrate water filtration techniques and to gather water for the food taste test.

"The group talked about different backpack types, how to care for and haul out meat from a hunt, various stove options for different types of weather, personal locator beacons, managing electronics in the field, and the trade-offs of weight and comfort in the field..."

Russell Kuhlman, BHA’s California/Nevada Chapter Coordinator, took a second group aside to discuss his backpacking setup for backcountry big game hunting. The group talked about different backpack types, how to care for and haul out meat from a hunt, various stove options for different types of weather, personal locator beacons, managing electronics in the field, and the trade-offs of weight and comfort in the field, among other topics.

Next, the group slung on their packs and headed out for a Hike to Hunt. Along the way, they stopped for a camping and camp stove demonstration. Justin and Russell each demonstrated a tent setup. Justin set up a standard two-person backpacking tent and Russell set up his lightweight tipi tent. Then camp stoves were lit and the group worked its way through a selection of Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry meals - ranging from the classic Chili Mac to Persian Peach Stew. No consensus was reached as to which meal was best, but everyone agreed that almost all of the food was surprisingly tasty.

The Hike to Hunt continued along river's edge where the group stopped to learn about backcountry fly fishing. Justin demonstrated his 7 foot, 3-weight backpacking fly rod setup and explained various flies and techniques he uses when backcountry fly fishing. He caught several trout, which provided an exciting example for the group.

Finally, the group hiked back, sharing stories of backcountry hunting adventures and excitement for the coming season, everyone more confident and ready to backpack into their next adventure.

The California Chapter already has a number of events coming up on the calendar this summer. Be on the lookout for additional updates, and email the Chapter if you'd like to lend your knowledge at an upcoming seminar or field day.

Photos by Josh Davis.

Chapter Co-Chair, Justin Bubenik, introduces the group to backcountry best practices and the day's scheduled events.

Reading the menu of backcountry meal options and watching the water boil.

Justin breaks down the stream into likely holding zones and where to concentrate efforts.

One of the Southern California natives landed during the backcountry fly fishing demo. Photo by Eric Hanson

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