Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Colorado Chapter Newsletter Winter 2023

Winter solitude–

In a world of one color

The sound of wind.

 - Basho[1]


As winter settles in across Colorado, many of us are looking forward to a holiday respite. But the hard work of conservation continues, and the threats facing our public lands don’t hibernate. Below you’ll read about just a few of the many issues Colorado BHA is engaged in to protect hunting, fishing, and wild places.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is only as strong as its members. Now through December 31, when you gift, join, renew, or upgrade your BHA membership, you will be entered to win one of four outdoor bundles valued at $2,500! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to support conservation and adventure. Memberships and BHA gear make great holiday gifts!


Join or renew at


Wishing you and yours the very happiest of holidays!


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Chapter news

Colorado BHA helps secure major win for bighorn sheep

Contact with domestic sheep–and the diseases they may carry–is one of the biggest threats to wild bighorns. Thanks to a yearslong effort by Colorado BHA and numerous partner organizations, that threat has been removed from a large swath of public lands surrounding Silverton.

In November, an agreement was finalized that extinguished grazing rights on over 100,000 acres of bighorn sheep habitat in exchange for fair compensation for the leaseholder. The deal, which will help protect the roughly 500-strong San Juan West bighorn herd, is the culmination of years of work by Colorado BHA, especially CO board member Dan Parkinson. BHA has been involved in this conservation effort since 2017, when it initiated what is now the Colorado Bighorn Monitoring Project coordinated by the Mountain Studies Institute.

You can read more about this tremendous win for wildlife in the Durango Herald.


MeatEater trivia collaboration a success

In late November, the Denver, Boulder, and Northern Colorado regional chapters hosted a Trivia Night. The event was a collaboration with MeatEater, to help spread the word about their storytelling tour across a handful of states. MeatEater provided the trivia questions and the grand prize of two tickets to their Denver show.

Wild game chef Justin Townsend of Harvesting Nature served as emcee for the roughly 40 contestants. Chris Weber eked out a victory by a single correct answer, securing tickets to the MeatEater show. He even had the opportunity to come up on stage with the MeatEater crew for a round of trivia.

It was a great, high-energy night for everyone at the Grossen Bart Brewery in Longmont. Keep an eye on the CO BHA upcoming events page for future opportunities to test your hunting, fishing, and conservation knowledge!

Photo credit: Noel Worden


Colorado policy updates

Major Colorado public lands legislation advances

On Dec. 14, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance several pieces of legislation that would conserve valuable landscapes in Colorado and beyond. Members and supporters of BHA have advocated for these bills so that current and future generations can enjoy their outdoor traditions in wild places with abundant wildlife. 

  • Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act (S. 636) - Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): Flowing from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains, the Dolores River is a valuable fishery and the adjacent canyons provide important habitat for desert bighorn sheep. By establishing the Dolores River National Conservation Area and Dolores River Special Management Area, this legislation would conserve a total of 68,000 acres of public lands and waters in the region. Management of these areas will be directed to conserve, protect, and enhance native fish, wildlife and recreational resources. Doing so would have significant benefits for hunters and anglers in southwest Colorado who rely on opportunities found on public lands and waters. After more than a decade of discussion and collaboration including local government, tribal partners, ranchers and conservationists, this legislation was given the opportunity to advance for the first time. The committee advanced this legislation with a favorable report after a voice vote.
  • Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act ( 1538) - Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): The wild character of the San Juan Mountains, Thompson Divide, and the White River National Forest is critical to providing some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in Colorado. The CORE Act would make more than 400,000 acres of important designations to improve conservation and recreation opportunities on public lands and waters. This locally-driven legislation would have long-term benefits for fish and wildlife that sportsmen and women depend on. Contained within these landscapes are headwaters, migration corridors, and seasonal ranges critical to the health of big game populations, native fish, and other species. The committee advanced this legislation with a favorable report after a bipartisan vote of 11-8. You can take action here to support the CORE Act.

The Biden administration is also considering other actions that are reflected by the CORE Act, with the U.S. Forest Service currently evaluating a 20-year mineral withdrawal for more than 200,000 acres in the area of the Thompson Divide and Mt. Emmons (Red Lady). 

Now that they have been reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, these bills are able to move to the Senate floor if given the opportunity. While they are unlikely to pass alone at this time, there remains a significant opportunity for Congress to package related legislation together with enough interests and votes to pass. BHA will push strongly for each of these bills to be included in any potential public lands package.

Public lands that would be protected under the CORE Act. Photo credit: Derek Pankratz


Colorado Citizens’ Initiative 91

If you haven’t already heard of ballot initiative 91, you likely soon will. Initiative 91 is a proposal by anti-hunting groups to ban the hunting of mountain lion, bobcat, and lynx in the state of Colorado. Originally filed to “Prohibit trophy hunting” of those species, that language has since been removed (but is subject to challenge). The groups behind 91 have previously tried to achieve the same objective through regulations of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission and through legislation in the General Assembly, both of which were unsuccessful.

This initiative is not only a threat to lion hunting, but an attack on the North American Model of Wildlife Management that relies on scientific expertise to manage animal populations. It’s also a potential road map for future anti-hunting initiatives; the proponents have significant public relations and legal teams supporting their effort.

Lynx, of course, are already a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Other distortions of the truth by 91 proponents include such things as the claim that lion meat is not consumed by hunters (which is also already illegal under Colorado game laws).

A number of hunting organizations are actively opposing 91, including BHA. Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management ( is leading the initial phases of pushback. Coordination of other sportsmen’s groups is through the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project, of which BHA is a member. Countering Initiative 91 will be an important and consuming effort throughout the next year. Stay tuned.


Working to make roads safer for wildlife and people

Roads are among the most disruptive aspects of human infrastructure for wildlife, especially for migratory animals like mule deer, elk, and pronghorn, but efforts are underway to address those impacts. Jim McGannon, a professional arborist/forester now based in Douglas County, joined the Colorado BHA chapter leadership team as liaison to the Colorado Wildlife & Transportation Alliance.

The Wildlife and Transportation Alliance is a statewide partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), federal, tribal, academic, nonprofit, biologist, and engineering partners. Its vision is to fully integrate wildlife movements into Colorado’s transportation system. Colorado BHA brings an important voice for wildlife to this effort as it prioritizes projects.

(If you want to go deep on the complex relationship between roads and wildlife, check out Colorado author Ben Goldfarb’s latest book, Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of our Planet.)


Colorado BHA leads effort to secure public hunting and fishing access on indemnity lands

Thanks to BHA member Steve Witte and his research and draft letter, the Colorado chapter of BHA was able to lead the effort to encourage the State Land Board to provide CPW an exclusive initial opportunity to lease the 17,232 acres of indemnity lands under the Hunting and Fishing Access Program before offering these for private recreational leases or other uses that would preclude hunting and fishing.

Indemnity lands refer to federally-administered public lands that were not transferred for various reasons to states (Colorado, in this case) at the time of statehood; they are, in a sense, “owed” to the state. Together with the other members of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project (CWCP), BHA asked that the State Land Board Commision bear in mind the loss of vital public access that has occurred and that could be lost forever. Please read the full letter here.


Upcoming events

Stewardship season has wound down, but we still have pint nights and other activities planned. For an up-to-date list of all upcoming events see: Be sure to check back often as new events are being added.


Around the campfire

Here are a couple of ideas submitted by Colorado BHA members to put your freezerful of game to good use.


Venison Sausage (courtesy of Paul Painter)

Venison  (600g / 1.32 lbs)

Pork butt (400g / 0.88 lbs)

Salt (18g / 3 tsp)

Pepper (2g / 1 tsp)

Fennel seeds (3g / 2 tsp)

Cumin (1g / 1/2 tsp)

Coriander (1g / 1/2 tsp)

Ice cold water (100ml / 3/8 cup)

32-36 mm hog casings


Cube the meat to be ground, and mix the cubes with the spices before grinding.

Grind the spiced meats and fat through a 10mm / 3/8" plate. If you like a finer meat texture, then grind again using a 5mm / 3/16” grinding plate.

After the meat is ground, mix the ice cold water with the ground meat and knead the meat until it emulsifies and is sticky. The test for this is to grab a handful of meat, squeeze  it, then release it. If the meat sticks to your hand then it's ready.

Use a stuffer to stuff the meat tightly into 32-36mm hog casings, and make into 6" links.

Since this is a fresh sausage that must be consumed within 1-2 days, refrigerate it. Fully cook the sausage before serving by frying or grilling.


Carne Asada Street Tacos with Avocado Crema (Courtesy of Kyle Vistuba)


1-2 pounds wild game steak cuts. Works well with elk, deer, or pronghorn. Works great with backstrap

Steak Marinade

1 bunch cilantro (no stems), finely chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup avocado oil

Zest & juice of one lime

2 tablespoons soy sauce


Avocado Crema Recipe

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced small

2 avocados, peeled and pitted

1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste

1 1/2 limes juiced (about 3 tbsp)

1 clove garlic



In a bowl, combine garlic, cumin, brown sugar, salt and pepper, oil, lime zest and juice, and soy. Blend or chop until the cilantro is chopped up into small pieces.

Put steak and the marinade into a large zippered bag, zip shut and squish around really well to make sure steak is well covered. Refrigerate 1-4 hours.

Combine diced cilantro & onion in a small bowl and set aside.

Cook the meat in a cast iron skillet or on a pellet grill set to 400 degrees until medium rare.

Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes before cutting across the grain.

Heat corn tortillas with a bit of oil so tortillas don't fall apart.

Now assemble tacos, with avocado crema first, carne asada, then top with onion mix and your favorite hot sauce.


Photo credit: Kyle Vistuba


In case you missed it

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers announced Patrick Berry as the organization’s new CEO, beginning January 1. Berry was President and CEO of Fly Fishers International, and previously served as director of the Vermont Fish & Game Department. He’s also worked in conservation policy at the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Law School, and earlier spent nearly a decade as a fishing guide in the Northern Rockies.

Colorado BHA looks forward to working with Patrick to continue our shared mission of protecting hunting, fishing, wildlife, and wild places.


[1] In Hass, R., Matsuo, B., Yosa, B., & Kobayashi, I. (1994). The essential haiku: versions of Bashō, Buson, and Issa. Hopewell, N.J., Ecco Press.


About Derek Pankratz