In light of the administration’s ongoing review of 27 national monuments and the potential implications for our public lands and waters, we asked you, BHA members, to share your stories of hunting and fishing within these monuments.
Below are excerpts from a few of our favorite stories. All of them illustrate the importance of maintaining habitat protections for these unique landscapes – and demonstrate the significance that monuments hold in the hearts of hunters and anglers.
As outlined in our report, National Monuments: A Sportsmen’s Perspective, when done right the designation of national monuments can conserve important fish and wildlife habitat while also maintaining traditional hunting and fishing opportunities. The BHA members who hunt the ridges and wade the streams have worked to help protect many of the landscapes currently threatened by the administration’s review.
Do you have a story of hunting or fishing America’s national monuments? Share it here.
Sam Soholt: Bozeman, MT (Pictured above with his Missouri Breaks archery elk)
The first time I stepped foot in the Upper Missouri Breaks was the fall of 2014. My roommate and I had both drawn tags and put together a plan to hunt for the entire third week of September. After setting camp, we took a long drive to do a little scouting, which ended with us deciding to move camp the next day so we could be closer to where we wanted to hunt. In five days, we were within 30 yards of six different bulls, finally connecting with one on the last day. It was my first archery elk, and it is a memory that will be seared in my mind forever. Even while I write this story, I can see the Euro mount of that bull, and it makes me smile every time. Losing a piece of ground like this would be detrimental not only to the hunting heritage of our country but to the country itself. It's one of those places that needs to be experienced. Photos and video will never do it justice.
Dustin Reeves: Gilbert, AZ
I have been camping and hunting javelina, mule deer, and quail in the Sonoran Desert National Monument for over a decade. The diversity and beauty of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem is something that I was planning on sharing with my young daughters for many years into the future. Removing protections of these public lands will certainly negatively affect the fish and wildlife habitat conservation in our national monuments. Please reconsider removing any protections over our nation’s public lands and be a part of the legacy to preserve the one thing that all Americans may share.
Chris Rose: Petaluma, CA
Berryessa Snow Mountain is a wonderful place that has black bears, tule elk, mountain lions, blacktail deer, California coastal chinook salmon, and Northern California steelhead. This wonderful place and all the other national monuments and national parks must be permanently protected!
Richard Sayre: Los Alamos, NM
We visit the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument on average four to five times a year, and fishing there is one of the highlights of the annual visit with our grandchildren. This national monument is exceptional in its beauty, Native American cultural sites and opportunities for mixed recreational use. We support its preservation as it stands now. Thank you for your consideration.
Kelly Cranston: Glenwood, NM
Almost every year of the last 10 years I have floated and fished the San Juan River on the southern boundary of Bears Ears National Monument. I have also camped in the backcountry of this area for the last 30 years. This is an irreplaceable landscape and should be protected.
Tim Hoffer: Bozeman, MT
One of my most unforgettable experiences in the outdoors took place in the outstanding Missouri Breaks area. With bows in hand, a good friend and I watched day break over the pines and heard the lone bugle of a bull elk echo off the steep draws below us. The Missouri River, or “Mo” as it is affectionately known, snaked away for miles in the distance, and the smell of sage and pine filled our nostrils as we dropped down towards the bugling elk.
That day, my good friend and hunting partner Dan took his first big game animal, a massive six-point bull, with one well-placed arrow. His shock and level of excitement will never be forgotten. We spent the day with help from my bowhunting mentor and uncle and his good friend packing the bull up and out of that steep, gnarly coulee, putting a season’s worth of meat in the coolers and a sizable rac propped up against a pine tree next to the wall tent. The fatigue was quickly replaced by reliving the hunt and letting our gaze wander over the miles of sage-covered plains that give way to deep ravines dotted with pine and junipers.
During that hunt, new friendships were forged, as well as a level of gratitude for the raw, ruggedly beautiful Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The wild, vast landscapes and feel of the area were permanently etched into our minds. To this day, some 20 years later, whenever I catch a whiff of pungent sage or sun-heated pine, I think of the Breaks. I think of more miles of adventure than I could cover in a lifetime, but I want to try. I want to show that wildness to my young son. To his children. I think to myself, We have to protect every inch of it.
Phil Puma: Vacaville, CA
I fish and hunt and on occasion go into Berryessa Snow Mountain. The area is home to all kinds of wildlife, big and small. If it's taken away then it will affect not only those of us who use it but also the area's wildlife, which is vital to what makes California such a unique place.
Thanks to everyone who submitted stories of hunting and fishing our national monuments! It’s not too late to share your story.