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SPECIAL FEATURE: STREAM ACCESS NOW! PAGE 26<br />

BACKCOUNTRY<br />

JOURNAL<br />

The Magazine of <strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters & Anglers <strong>Summer</strong> 2016<br />

Digital Edition Brought To You By<br />

Weather<strong>by</strong><br />

PLUS: FRANK MOORE WILD STEELHEAD<br />

SANCTUARY, ELK CALLING WITH COREY<br />

JACOBSEN, SHORELINE PAELLA, HANDLING<br />

HEAT-STRESSED TROUT AND MORE


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE<br />

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YOU’RE CRAZY! What are <strong>you</strong> thinking?<br />

You know the weather in May can be<br />

dicey? Snow? Driving rain? How old are<br />

<strong>you</strong>r kids? You’re crazy!<br />

I heard these questions and unsolicited<br />

comments from just about everyone when<br />

I <strong>to</strong>ld them my wife and I were taking our<br />

two <strong>you</strong>ng kids on a 60-mile backcountry<br />

float in the middle of May.<br />

Granted, May weather in Montana can<br />

be temperamental, but we had a chance <strong>to</strong><br />

float the famed Smith River! A childhood<br />

friend had drawn a golden ticket and invited<br />

us along.<br />

The Smith is the only permitted river<br />

in Montana. It slices through a gorgeous<br />

limes<strong>to</strong>ne canyon in central Montana,<br />

flowing north until it joins the mighty<br />

Missouri. I’ve been lucky <strong>to</strong> float the<br />

Smith eight times over the years. Some of<br />

my fondest memories come from this s<strong>to</strong>ried<br />

river, and I couldn’t wait <strong>to</strong> show it <strong>to</strong><br />

Glenna, Colin and Cidney. To watch them<br />

experience things for the first time is nothing<br />

short of magical. It fills my bucket.<br />

We experienced some scattered showers<br />

on the first day but nothing the kids<br />

couldn’t handle. As we made it <strong>to</strong> our<br />

first camp the rain started in earnest. We<br />

quickly set up shelter and put on rain gear.<br />

The kids were unfazed <strong>by</strong> the weather and<br />

explored our campsite filled with boulders,<br />

bones and bugs. After a hearty meal and<br />

s’mores around the campfire it was time<br />

for bed. Crawling in<strong>to</strong> our teepee with a<br />

fire in the s<strong>to</strong>ve was nothing short of Eden.<br />

We all slept well that night as the rain pattered<br />

on the tent walls.<br />

The days that followed <strong>brought</strong> sunshine<br />

and stunning canyon views around<br />

every river bend. We melded in<strong>to</strong> the flow<br />

of the river and our daily routine. Countless<br />

moments are etched in<strong>to</strong> my memory:<br />

cliff-dwelling geese and mergansers, a<br />

great horned owl in a small cave, a plethora<br />

of wildflowers and dangerous hike <strong>to</strong><br />

see some pic<strong>to</strong>graphs that was cut short<br />

when saner minds prevailed … the kids<br />

are 5 and 7, after all. We cooked up fantastic<br />

fare of tri-tip, chili, tacos and even<br />

some caribou from friends in Alaska. On<br />

the last day we got more rain, all day, with<br />

a stiff wind blowing upstream – less-thanideal<br />

conditions for even a seasoned river<br />

rat. The kids and Glenna <strong>to</strong>ok it in stride,<br />

however, never complaining once.<br />

My decision now <strong>to</strong> write about the<br />

Smith River – <strong>to</strong> put it on the map, so <strong>to</strong><br />

speak – will draw some of the same comments<br />

I’ve heard before. “You’re crazy!”<br />

“What are <strong>you</strong> thinking?” “It will be overrun!”<br />

Yet I feel compelled <strong>to</strong> write about<br />

the Smith because it’s under threat. An<br />

international mining company is pushing<br />

hard <strong>to</strong> develop a sulfide gold mine at the<br />

head of Sheep Creek, the largest headwater<br />

tributary of the Smith. “You’re crazy!”<br />

“What are <strong>you</strong> thinking?” “Why would<br />

<strong>you</strong> want <strong>to</strong> put a mine here?”<br />

These questions deserve answers – and<br />

drive BHA’s efforts <strong>to</strong> protect this backcountry<br />

treasure. We aren’t against all<br />

mines and support responsible development<br />

on public lands – but in the appropriate<br />

places. Stay tuned as we ramp up<br />

our efforts <strong>to</strong> save the Smith. If <strong>you</strong> didn’t<br />

know about the Smith before <strong>you</strong> opened<br />

this issue of <strong>Backcountry</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>, I hope<br />

<strong>you</strong> understand now why protecting it –<br />

and the outdoor opportunities it offers – is<br />

important.<br />

Speaking of special places, I’m pleased<br />

<strong>to</strong> share some good news about the<br />

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.<br />

My last column addressed this iconic<br />

wilderness – and the proposal <strong>to</strong> develop<br />

sulfide mines within the Boundary Waters<br />

watershed. The Forest Service recently decided<br />

<strong>to</strong> review – and allow public comment<br />

on – a proposal <strong>to</strong> renew mining<br />

leases for the project. BHA members are<br />

actively engaged in building awareness of<br />

the threats these mines would pose <strong>to</strong> the<br />

Boundary Waters and <strong>to</strong> an irreplaceable<br />

outdoor legacy. Raise <strong>you</strong>r voice for the<br />

backcountry and sign our petition <strong>to</strong>day:<br />

www.backcountryhunters.org/petition_boundary_waters.<br />

This is what we do<br />

at BHA. We step up for the resource. We<br />

step up for our heritage. And we step up<br />

for those future generations who will reap<br />

the benefits of what we sow <strong>to</strong>day. Some<br />

may think we are crazy, but we’re just getting<br />

started!<br />

Glenna, Cidney, Land and Colin Tawney ready for<br />

their last day on the Smith, with smiles all around. The<br />

Smith is under threat of a proposed sulfide mine at<br />

its headwaters and BHA is working <strong>to</strong> make sure that<br />

doesn’t happen.<br />

Onward and Upward,<br />

Land Tawney<br />

President & CEO<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 3


WHAT IS BHA?<br />

BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS & ANGLERS<br />

is a North American conservation<br />

nonprofit (501c3) dedicated <strong>to</strong> the<br />

defense of hunting and fishing access<br />

on public lands and waters, and<br />

upholding the values of fair chase. This<br />

is our quarterly magazine. We have<br />

members across the continent, with<br />

chapters representing 25 states and<br />

provinces. We fight <strong>to</strong> maintain and<br />

enhance the backcountry values that<br />

define our passions: challenge, solitude<br />

and beauty. Join us. Become part of the<br />

sportsmen’s voice for our wild public<br />

lands, waters and wildlife.Sign up at<br />

www.backcountryhunters.org.<br />

NEW BOARD<br />

MEMBERS<br />

BEN BULIS AND TED KOCH have joined<br />

the national BHA board of direc<strong>to</strong>rs,<br />

bringing close ties <strong>to</strong> the fly fishing<br />

industry and expertise in wildlife biology<br />

and public lands management <strong>to</strong> BHA’s<br />

leadership.<br />

Bulis is president and CEO of the<br />

American Fly Fishing Trade Association,<br />

the trade arm of the fly fishing industry.<br />

AFFTA promotes the growth of fly<br />

fishing, individual businesses and the<br />

industry as a whole. Bulis has owned and<br />

operated businesses in the construction<br />

and aviation industries, is an FAA-licensed<br />

instrument pilot and has sat on<br />

numerous boards. He has fished extensively<br />

around the world, including his<br />

home waters of Bozeman, Montana.<br />

A fish and wildlife biologist, Koch has<br />

worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife<br />

Service for more than two decades. His<br />

work includes implementing the federal<br />

Endangered Species Act, hydropower<br />

project relicensing and habitat conservation.<br />

He is currently the field supervisor<br />

in Reno, Nevada, overseeing ecological<br />

services and fisheries res<strong>to</strong>ration programs.<br />

His greatest passion is pursuing<br />

elk with traditional archery tackle – as far<br />

from the road as he can get.<br />

THE SPORTSMEN’S VOICE FOR OUR WILD PUBLIC LANDS, WATERS AND WILDLIFE<br />

Ryan Busse (Montana) Chairman<br />

Ben Long (Montana) Vice Chairman<br />

Sean Carriere (Idaho) Treasurer<br />

Sean Clarkson (Virginia) Secretary<br />

Jay Banta (Utah)<br />

Ben Bulis (Montana)<br />

President & CEO<br />

Land Tawney, tawney@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Southwest Chapter Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Jarrett Babincsak, jarrett@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Campus Outreach Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Sawyer Connelly, sawyer@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Conservation Direc<strong>to</strong>r<br />

John Gale, gale@backcountryhunters.org<br />

<strong>Backcountry</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> Edi<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Sam Lungren, sam@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Communications Direc<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Katie McKalip, mckalip@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Membership Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Ryan Silcox, ryan@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Sponsorship & Outreach Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Caitlin Twohig, caitlin@backcountryhunters.org<br />

BOARD OF DIRECTORS<br />

STAFF<br />

BHA LEGACY PARTNERS<br />

A big, backcountry high five <strong>to</strong> the following<br />

Legacy Partners who have committed $1000 or<br />

more <strong>to</strong> BHA for the next three years. To find out<br />

how <strong>you</strong> can become a Legacy Partner, please<br />

contact grant@backcountryhunters.org.<br />

Bendrix Bailey, Mike Beagle, Cidney Brown, Dan<br />

Edwards, Blake Fischer, Whit Fosburgh, Stephen<br />

Graf, Ryan Hucke<strong>by</strong>, Richard Kacin, Ted Koch, Peter<br />

Lupsha, Robert Magill, Chol McGlynn, Nick Nichols,<br />

William Rahr, Robert Tammen, Karl Van Calcar,<br />

Michael Verville, Barry Whitehill, J.R. Young,<br />

Dr. Renee Young<br />

JOURNAL CONTRIBUTORS<br />

Grant Alban, Jack Ballard, Brandon Butler, Chris<br />

Chapman, Eric Crawford, Trey Curtiss, Sen. Steve<br />

Daines, Susan L. Ebert, Brian Huskey, Corey Jacobsen,<br />

Brian Jennings, Corey Kruitbosch, Todd Leahy, Katie<br />

McKalip, Matthew McKenzie, Kris Millgate, Paul<br />

Nicoletti, Miles Nolte, Kris Olson, Dale Spartas, Mark<br />

Taylor, Sen. Jon Tester, E. Donnall Thomas Jr.<br />

Cover pho<strong>to</strong>: Sam Lungren, Montana<br />

<strong>Backcountry</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> writing and pho<strong>to</strong>graphy queries,<br />

submissions and advertising questions contact<br />

sam@backcountryhunters.org<br />

BHA HEADQUARTERS<br />

P.O. Box 9257, Missoula, MT 59807<br />

www.backcountryhunters.org<br />

admin@backcountryhunters.org<br />

(406) 926-1908<br />

Ted Koch (Nevada)<br />

T. Edward Nickens (North Carolina)<br />

Mike Scho<strong>by</strong> (Montana)<br />

Rachel Vandevoort (Montana)<br />

Michael Beagle (Oregon) President Emeritus<br />

Joel Webster (Montana) Chairman Emeritus<br />

Development Associate<br />

Grant Alban, grant@backcountryhunters.org<br />

State Policy Manager<br />

Tim Brass, tim@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Clearwater Basin Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Holly Enders<strong>by</strong>, hollye@hughes.net<br />

Oregon Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Brian Jennings, brianjenningsmedia@gmail.com<br />

Operations Direc<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Frankie McBurney Olson, frankie@backcountryhunters.org<br />

High Divide Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Toni Ruth, truthinsalmon@gmail.com<br />

Chapter Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Ty Stubblefield, ty@backcountryhunters.org<br />

Interns: Jack Cholewa, Trey Curtiss and Alex Kim<br />

CONTACT CHAPTER CHAIRS<br />

alaska@backcountryhunters.org<br />

arizona@backcountryhunters.org<br />

britishcolumbia@backcountryhunters.org<br />

california@backcountryhunters.org<br />

colorado@backcountryhunters.org<br />

idaho@backcountryhunters.org<br />

michigan@backcountryhunters.org<br />

minnesota@backcountryhunters.org<br />

montana@backcountryhunters.org<br />

nevada@backcountryhunters.org<br />

newengland@backcountryhunters.org<br />

newmexico@backcountryhunters.org<br />

newyork@backcountryhunters.org<br />

oregon@backcountryhunters.org<br />

pennsylvania@backcountryhunters.org<br />

utah@backcountryhunters.org<br />

washing<strong>to</strong>n@backcountryhunters.org<br />

wisconsin@backcountryhunters.org<br />

wyoming@backcountryhunters.org<br />

JOIN THE CONVERSATION<br />

facebook.com/backcountryhabitat<br />

plus.google.com/+<strong>Backcountry</strong>HuntersAnglers<br />

twitter.com/<strong>Backcountry</strong>_H_A<br />

<strong>you</strong>tube.com/<strong>Backcountry</strong>Hunters1<br />

instagram.com/backcountryhunters<br />

YOUR BACKCOUNTRY<br />

THE FRANK MOORE WILD STEELHEAD SANCTUARY<br />

BY BRIAN JENNINGS<br />

NINETY-THREE-YEAR-OLD<br />

Frank Moore has lived on Oregon’s North<br />

Umpqua River most of his life. He inspired<br />

the 1968 film “Pass Creek,” which led <strong>to</strong><br />

logging changes nationwide <strong>to</strong> protect riparian<br />

habitat. Frank has been honored<br />

with awards like the National Wildlife<br />

Federation’s “Conservationist of the Year”<br />

and served as a commissioner for the Oregon<br />

Department of Fish and Wildlife. He<br />

is a great friend of <strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters &<br />

Anglers.<br />

Frank was also among the first <strong>to</strong> land<br />

and survive on Utah Beach during the<br />

D-Day Invasion of Normandy in 1944.<br />

He fought for our freedoms, including the<br />

freedom <strong>to</strong> fish and hunt on public lands.<br />

BHA now has a chance <strong>to</strong> not only <strong>to</strong> live<br />

up <strong>to</strong> our mission of protecting wildlife<br />

and habitat for future generations but also<br />

<strong>to</strong> venerate a hero of both WWII and native<br />

fish conservation.<br />

The North Umpqua originates high in<br />

the Cascade Mountains near Crater Lake<br />

National Park and travels westward in<strong>to</strong> the<br />

rich farmland of Western Oregon where,<br />

150 miles later, it joins the Pacific Ocean<br />

at Reedsport. Its clear9 green waters, rife<br />

with vegetation and ledge rock, have been<br />

revered dating back <strong>to</strong> the days legendary<br />

writer Zane Grey spent there.<br />

The North Umpqua tributaries are critical<br />

spawning grounds for native steelhead<br />

and salmon. Steamboat Creek, perhaps the<br />

most productive artery in the system, contains<br />

the Big Bend Pool where hundreds<br />

of summer-run steelhead hold, waiting for<br />

the fall rains. Lee Spencer has sat on his<br />

bench above the pool for the last 18 summers,<br />

studying the fish and guarding them<br />

from poachers.<br />

In May 2015, Sens. Wyden and Merkley,<br />

both of Oregon, introduced S.B. 1448 <strong>to</strong><br />

designate 104,000 acres of the Steamboat<br />

Creek Basin for the permanent protection<br />

of native salmon and steelhead. The Oregon<br />

Chapter of <strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters &<br />

Anglers is actively engaged in seeing this<br />

legislation passed. The bill is named the<br />

“Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary<br />

Act.”<br />

Frank is a humble man but admits he is<br />

honored <strong>by</strong> the legislation. “It shouldn’t be<br />

for me,” Frank said. “It should be for the<br />

fish. That’s the main thing. It’s good for the<br />

old ego <strong>to</strong> see that name Frank Moore, but<br />

the resource itself is what’s important.”<br />

According <strong>to</strong> Ed Bowles, fish division<br />

administra<strong>to</strong>r of the Oregon Department<br />

of Fish and Wildlife, “The proposed sanctuary<br />

on the North Umpqua River contains<br />

some of the most important and unique<br />

steelhead habitat in Western Oregon. The<br />

Steamboat Creek watershed contains over<br />

80 miles of prime spawning habitat for<br />

summer steelhead, representing about 30<br />

percent of the known spawning habitat for<br />

summer steelhead in the coastal planning<br />

domain.” The coastal planning domain<br />

encompasses most of the Oregon Coast –<br />

The Big Bend Pool is critical habitat<br />

for native summer-run steelhead.<br />

Dale Spartas pho<strong>to</strong>. Below, WWII<br />

veteran Frank Moore prepares <strong>to</strong><br />

fish his beloved North Umpqua.<br />

Brian Jennings pho<strong>to</strong>.<br />

265 miles from Seaside on the north coast<br />

<strong>to</strong> Port Orford on the south coast. Most<br />

coastal steelhead are winter-run fish, making<br />

this basin all the more special.<br />

BHA is honored <strong>to</strong> participate in preserving<br />

this heritage with partners such<br />

as the Pacific Rivers Council, the Wild<br />

Salmon Center, Trout Unlimited, the Wild<br />

Steelhead Coalition and others. We thank<br />

them for their work on behalf of this legislation.<br />

But above all, we thank Frank<br />

Moore for his part in liberating Europe<br />

from Nazi dominion and a rich lifetime of<br />

native steelhead conservation.<br />

Brian is BHA’s Oregon coordina<strong>to</strong>r. He<br />

lives in Bend.<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 5


BACKCOUNTRY BOUNTY<br />

1<br />

2<br />

4<br />

3<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

Hunter: Phil Tuccillo, BHA Member<br />

Species: Mountain Goat State: Montana<br />

Method: Rifle Distance from nearest road:<br />

Six miles Transportation: Foot<br />

Hunter: Tiege Ulschmid, BHA Member<br />

Species: Black Bear State: Idaho Method:<br />

Longbow Distance from nearest road: Eight<br />

miles Transportation: Foot<br />

Hunter: Kirk Douglas, BHA Member<br />

Species: Turkey State: Washing<strong>to</strong>n Method:<br />

Compound bow Distance from nearest<br />

road: .5 miles Transportation: Foot<br />

Angler: Julia Kocubinski, BHA Member<br />

Species: Rainbow Trout State: Montana<br />

Method: Fly rod Distance from nearest<br />

road: One mile Transportation: Raft<br />

5<br />

Hunter: Allen Crater, BHA Member<br />

Species: Brown Trout State: Michigan<br />

Method: Fly rod Distance from nearest<br />

road: One mile Transportation: Foot<br />

Send submissions <strong>to</strong> sam@backcountryhunters.org<br />

5<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 7


Protect the <strong>Backcountry</strong><br />

FACES OF BHA<br />

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receive a FREE Seek Outside tent or Kimber firearm with <strong>you</strong>r BHA Life Membership commitment.<br />

There is no better time <strong>to</strong> act! Become a leading contribu<strong>to</strong>r <strong>to</strong> a community of like-minded<br />

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IN ADDITION YOU WILL RECEIVE:<br />

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valued backcountry hunting and fishing traditions<br />

WELCOME, NEW LIFE MEMBERS!<br />

Stan Adamek<br />

Chris Bech<strong>to</strong>ld<br />

Travis Booms<br />

Thomas Carney<br />

Robert Coe<br />

Jeff Daniels<br />

Dan Ermatinger<br />

Dennis Gale<br />

Steven Gale<br />

Gary Gruwell<br />

Ryan K. Hucke<strong>by</strong><br />

Adam Ivey<br />

Jake Lanephier<br />

Amy Locke<br />

Jeff Mura<strong>to</strong>re<br />

Keith O’Toole<br />

Mark Petroni<br />

Travis Pickens<br />

Adam Ratner<br />

Dan Rudman<br />

Matt Starley<br />

James Thompson<br />

INTERESTED? CALL OR EMAIL RYAN SILCOX:<br />

admin@backcountryhunters.org (406) 926-1908<br />

BHA life member Mike Miller of Boise<br />

harvested this mountain goat with<br />

the Kimber Mountain Ascent rifle<br />

he received with his life member<br />

commitment. He was hunting solo, 50<br />

miles up a dirt road and eight miles <strong>by</strong><br />

foot in<strong>to</strong> the Frank Church-River of No<br />

Return Wilderness.<br />

MICHAEL PANASCI: Lubbock, Texas<br />

Wildlife Sciences Doc<strong>to</strong>ral Candidate at Texas Tech<br />

HOW DID YOU GET<br />

INTO HUNTING?<br />

I think the foundation<br />

was a love and passion<br />

for wildlife and the outdoors,<br />

which was there as<br />

long as I can remember.<br />

I always wanted <strong>to</strong> be a<br />

wildlife biologist when<br />

I got older. As soon as I<br />

was old enough <strong>to</strong> hunt,<br />

I would go here and there<br />

with really anybody who<br />

was willing <strong>to</strong> take me.<br />

Once I was old enough<br />

<strong>to</strong> go <strong>by</strong> myself, I actually<br />

used <strong>to</strong> break my shotgun<br />

down, put it in my<br />

backpack and get on my<br />

bike and ride a few miles<br />

down the road <strong>to</strong> some<br />

woods and go walk a<br />

trail for grouse. I grew up<br />

in northern Maine and<br />

it’s an open access state<br />

where as long as its not<br />

posted <strong>you</strong> can hunt it so<br />

<strong>you</strong> never knew the landowners<br />

or anything like<br />

that. If it wasn’t posted, I<br />

would just walk in. I was<br />

kind of fortunate <strong>to</strong> be<br />

in the East but with that<br />

Western mentality, where<br />

I had the whole woods as<br />

my playground.<br />

TELL US ABOUT<br />

HUNTING<br />

SANDHILL CRANES<br />

I came <strong>to</strong> Texas for my<br />

master’s. The first year I<br />

was here, I really struggled<br />

<strong>to</strong> find hunting access.<br />

It’s a passion so I<br />

was able <strong>to</strong> figure it out. I<br />

learned that <strong>you</strong> can hunt<br />

(cranes) and I just got a<br />

phone book and started<br />

making calls. Three other<br />

graduate students and<br />

I banded <strong>to</strong>gether and<br />

figured it out. We started<br />

making our own two dimensional,<br />

crappy decoys<br />

out of plywood and spray<br />

painting them. We would<br />

get two or three cranes<br />

and we were excited. We<br />

decided <strong>to</strong> take the wings<br />

off a dead bird and put<br />

them on<strong>to</strong> the side, and<br />

that worked even better.<br />

Then later I came up with<br />

a design <strong>to</strong> make my own<br />

decoys. I’d skin my cranes<br />

and make a mount and<br />

that works great. These<br />

are very smart birds, and<br />

I think the average is like<br />

18 years old. The challenge<br />

makes them fun for<br />

me. That and they’re just<br />

big and they taste great.<br />

“Rib eye of the sky!”<br />

WHAT ATTRACTED<br />

YOU TO BHA?<br />

I felt like the lone voice<br />

in the wilderness. I don’t<br />

have a whole lot of spare<br />

time. Mainly if I’m reading<br />

something it’s a scientific<br />

journal article or<br />

basically science stuff<br />

because I’m a Ph.D. candidate.<br />

I hadn’t heard of<br />

BHA until I was listening<br />

<strong>to</strong> the MeatEater Podcast.<br />

I hadn’t even heard<br />

of Steven Rinella until<br />

he wanted <strong>to</strong> come crane<br />

hunting. That’s how far I<br />

was out of the loop. After<br />

Rinella came down<br />

and I met him, I started<br />

watching his show and<br />

listening <strong>to</strong> his podcast.<br />

I agreed with a lot of the<br />

things he had <strong>to</strong> say. He<br />

mentioned BHA one of<br />

the times so I looked in<strong>to</strong><br />

it and joined right away.<br />

I see eye-<strong>to</strong>-eye almost<br />

100 percent with the<br />

goals and philosophies of<br />

BHA. Right away I wanted<br />

<strong>to</strong> be a part of it and<br />

get involved as much as<br />

I could. It’s really good<br />

<strong>to</strong> see that there’s other<br />

people out there with my<br />

values.<br />

WHY DO YOU<br />

WANT TO START A<br />

TEXAS CHAPTER?<br />

Texas is 2 percent (public<br />

land) or as Ted Cruz said,<br />

“Two percent <strong>to</strong>o much.”<br />

It’s another world in Texas<br />

in terms of public land.<br />

I think it will be a good<br />

voice for what sportsmen<br />

in other states don’t want<br />

<strong>to</strong> get <strong>to</strong>. At the same<br />

time, I think there is a<br />

lot of opportunity for an<br />

organization like BHA<br />

<strong>to</strong> make a positive impact<br />

in Texas. There are<br />

going <strong>to</strong> be some major<br />

challenges. There is a cap<br />

on what we can do with<br />

2 percent public land.<br />

Even the hunting culture<br />

is quite different from<br />

the rest of the country. It<br />

does present some unique<br />

challenges. I think there<br />

is a lot of room for improvement<br />

in access and<br />

fair chase issues. In Texas,<br />

hunting is a pay-<strong>to</strong>-play<br />

activity. There are a lot of<br />

deer farms and high fence<br />

ranches. It’s big money <strong>to</strong><br />

gain access <strong>to</strong> somewhere<br />

<strong>to</strong> hunt deer. You either<br />

have <strong>to</strong> know somebody,<br />

own land <strong>you</strong>rself or pay<br />

for it.<br />

WHAT IS THE<br />

BIGGEST THREAT<br />

TO HUNTING?<br />

I think it’s the acceptance<br />

of hunting from the 80<br />

percent of society that<br />

doesn’t hunt but is not part<br />

of the anti-hunting community.<br />

Whether someone<br />

considers hunting <strong>to</strong> be a<br />

right or a privilege, wildlife<br />

in this country belongs<br />

<strong>to</strong> the people. Our use of<br />

that resource is dependent<br />

upon the acceptance of the<br />

general public. My concern<br />

is that there is a segment<br />

of the hunting community<br />

that either fails <strong>to</strong><br />

realize that or doesn’t care.<br />

They behave in a way that<br />

even other hunters consider<br />

<strong>to</strong> be less than ideal. In a<br />

way it’s similar <strong>to</strong> hunting<br />

on private lands. I think<br />

any hunter that has spent<br />

much time on private land<br />

has probably lost access<br />

due <strong>to</strong> the actions of someone<br />

else. Whether <strong>you</strong> act<br />

responsibly because it’s the<br />

right thing <strong>to</strong> do or solely<br />

because <strong>you</strong> want <strong>to</strong> keep<br />

what <strong>you</strong> have, the end result<br />

is the same and that’s<br />

how <strong>you</strong> behave. You can<br />

extend this concept <strong>to</strong><br />

hunting in general and the<br />

scrutiny that we’re under.<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 9


OPINION<br />

OWN THE ASCENT<br />

STAND AT THE TOP WITH THIS LIGHT-WEIGHT KIMBER RIFLE.<br />

THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND<br />

BY SENATOR JON TESTER (D-MT)<br />

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EACH SEASON IS SPECIAL, but there is something about a<br />

Montana summer that separates itself from the rest. Maybe it is<br />

the long days or the abundant wildlife. Some folks might even say<br />

it’s the easiest time of year <strong>to</strong> sneak out of the office and head <strong>to</strong><br />

the closest stream <strong>to</strong> cast a line.<br />

Whatever the reason, the fact is that over the next couple of<br />

months folks are going <strong>to</strong> be hiking, fishing and floating on Montana’s<br />

public lands more than any other time of the year. And<br />

much of that is made possible <strong>by</strong> the Land and Water Conservation<br />

Fund, which helps give every Montanan access <strong>to</strong> our treasured<br />

public lands.<br />

LWCF was created 50 years ago using revenues from offshore oil<br />

and gas development <strong>to</strong> promote outdoor recreation and increase<br />

public access <strong>to</strong> public lands. Through conservation easements<br />

and land purchases, LWCF has increased folks’ access <strong>to</strong> millions<br />

of acres of mountain<strong>to</strong>ps and riverbeds.<br />

In Montana, we have used LWCF <strong>to</strong> protect some of the most<br />

pristine wildlife habitats in the country – including 8,000 acres<br />

of elk habitat in central Montana and the rivers and streams that<br />

Norman Maclean wrote about in “A River Runs Through It.”<br />

Hunters and anglers all across the nation take special pride in<br />

our public lands, and we recognize the opportunities they provide<br />

for us. But in addition <strong>to</strong> creating more outdoor recreation opportunities,<br />

LWCF also makes major contributions <strong>to</strong> many communities.<br />

Many of the city parks <strong>you</strong> drive <strong>by</strong> on <strong>you</strong>r way <strong>to</strong> the<br />

great outdoors were created or improved <strong>by</strong> LWCF.<br />

Each year, outdoor enthusiasts contribute $6 billion dollars <strong>to</strong><br />

my state’s economy, sustaining 64,000 jobs. And over the past<br />

decade, we are seeing successful entrepreneurs recognize the economic<br />

impact of increasing access <strong>to</strong> our public lands.<br />

Although there are still folks in Congress who want <strong>to</strong> transfer<br />

or sell off our public lands, gut the true intent of LWCF, and fence<br />

off our favorite access points, the majority of folks in Montana<br />

and across the West recognize how essential our public lands are<br />

<strong>to</strong> our way of life.<br />

In the Senate, I am sponsoring legislation that will permanently<br />

authorize and fully fund LWCF, and I will continue <strong>to</strong> partner<br />

with hunters and anglers <strong>to</strong> ensure that we protect our public<br />

lands and provide folks with even more opportunities <strong>to</strong> hunt and<br />

fish across our great nation.<br />

Jon Tester of Big Sandy, Montana, is a Democrat in his second term<br />

in the U.S. Senate.<br />

SOME OF MY MOST CHERISHED MEMORIES as a kid are<br />

hunting in the Bridgers, backpacking in the Bear<strong>to</strong>oths and fishing<br />

the streams of southwest Montana with my grandfather and<br />

my dad. Now, I often look forward <strong>to</strong> the days that I get <strong>to</strong> spend<br />

with my wife and kids hunting, fishing and hiking in our great<br />

state. Last fall, I got <strong>to</strong> take my wife Cindy on a hunt where she<br />

shot her first whitetail deer!<br />

Recently, I pushed through a bipartisan bill that ensures access<br />

<strong>to</strong> our public land, helps our local businesses and supports our<br />

hunters and anglers.<br />

For the first time, we voted <strong>to</strong> permanently reauthorize the<br />

Land and Water Conservation Fund, which ensures that our children<br />

and grandchildren have the same access <strong>to</strong> our public land<br />

that I did growing up in Montana. In Montana and throughout<br />

the country, the LWCF plays a critical role in achieving the goal<br />

of increased access and helping preserve and protect Montanans’<br />

opportunities <strong>to</strong> enjoy hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.<br />

As <strong>to</strong>urism is an important economic driver in our state, we<br />

must also ensure that we have the ability <strong>to</strong> keep Montana’s businesses<br />

up and running. There are many small businesses in Montana<br />

that depend on a thriving outdoors industry, overall supporting<br />

64,000 jobs and $6 billion per year in consumer spending<br />

across Montana.<br />

I’ve been a longtime advocate for expanding access <strong>to</strong> public<br />

land in Congress. Projects like the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage<br />

Act ensure that unique areas in our state remain open <strong>to</strong> the<br />

public. In the U.S. House of Representatives, I introduced the<br />

North Fork Watershed Protection Act and was proud <strong>to</strong> celebrate<br />

this success last summer on the shores of the North Fork Flathead<br />

River with Sen. Jon Tester.<br />

As a lifelong sportsman, I have a great appreciation for Montana’s<br />

outdoors heritage and will continue <strong>to</strong> work <strong>to</strong> ensure that<br />

future generations are able <strong>to</strong> enjoy the same quality of life. And<br />

as Montana’s only member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources<br />

Committee, I’m continuing <strong>to</strong> work <strong>to</strong>ward commonsense,<br />

bipartisan solutions that protect and preserve Montanans’<br />

way of life.<br />

Steve Daines of Bozeman, Montana, is a Republican in his<br />

first term in the U.S. Senate. He served one term in the House of<br />

Representatives.<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 11


OPINION<br />

KIDS’ CORNER<br />

Dale Spartas pho<strong>to</strong><br />

Steven Brutger pho<strong>to</strong><br />

YOU NEED LIPS FOR KISSIN’<br />

SUMMER SCAVENGER HUNT!<br />

BY DALE SPARTAS<br />

LAST OCTOBER, A WONDERFUL LATE AFTERNOON OF<br />

Blue Winged Olive dry fly fishing ended in dismay. The hatch<br />

was steady and the fishing good. After the sun slipped below the<br />

horizon, shadowing the river and dropping the temperature 15<br />

degrees, the fishing picked up. Stealthily wading up the bank<br />

around a sharp bend, I found the flat, exactly where I landed a<br />

23-inch, hook-jawed brown on a #18 Dark Ginger Quill the year<br />

prior. Several trout fed in the tail-out, and 100 yards up behind<br />

a rock tight <strong>to</strong> the bank a good fish was feeding. I quietly eased<br />

in below the bank feeder and watched for several minutes. Just as<br />

the year before, the big trout held in slack water below the rock,<br />

slowly moving back and forth, picking off emerging and floating<br />

duns. Its slow porpoising and tipped-head rise forms indicated it<br />

was the same fish.<br />

The big brown held inches below the surface, its shadowy image<br />

just barely visible. A curved cast delicately landed the fly two feet<br />

above the feeding leviathan. When the fly was inches above him<br />

the trout slowly moved on it, tipping its big head out of the water<br />

and taking the fly. Holding my breath, I tried <strong>to</strong> keep myself<br />

<strong>to</strong>gether long enough for the big head <strong>to</strong> submerge and trout <strong>to</strong><br />

close its mouth before setting. The water exploded and the big<br />

brown cartwheeled then ran out in<strong>to</strong> the river, the reel screaming<br />

and me in <strong>to</strong>w. After another jump and a stubborn battle, the<br />

brown moved in<strong>to</strong> the shallows and slid in<strong>to</strong> my wetted hand.<br />

I looked down at my old friend in dismay. The hook-jawed<br />

brown’s right maxillary had been ripped off and his whole lower<br />

jaw dislocated <strong>by</strong> some hurried, inconsiderate angler more intent<br />

on numbers than the trout’s welfare. While I briefly pondered<br />

whether <strong>to</strong> kill or release the disfigured fish, he slowly swam out<br />

in<strong>to</strong> the river.<br />

In the parking area, I <strong>to</strong>ld a <strong>you</strong>ng guide about the trout with<br />

the dislocated jaw and maxillary ripped off. To my chagrin, he<br />

responded, “Fly fishing is a blood sport and ripping a trout’s lips<br />

off doesn’t hurt them.”<br />

I could hardly believe my ears. But before things escalated in<strong>to</strong><br />

a “clam bake,” as my men<strong>to</strong>r John Randolph used <strong>to</strong> say, and I got<br />

my butt kicked, I steamed off shaking my head.<br />

Wild trout and their environs are special. Both are beautiful,<br />

unique and wonderful. Both are fragile and deserving of our respect,<br />

admiration, protection and care.<br />

As a fishing guide, pho<strong>to</strong>grapher and writer since the early ’80s,<br />

living on the banks of Montana’s rivers, I’ve noticed the number<br />

of fish with bad hook scars and missing lips has escalated considerably<br />

in the last 10 years. Sure, there are many more anglers<br />

on the water these days, but I’ve noticed changes in attitudes as<br />

well. Tremendous emphasis is placed on numbers and size rather<br />

than the beauty, challenge and sporting aspects of the experience.<br />

Fewer anglers fish dry flies <strong>to</strong>day, excepting hoppers, with many<br />

choosing <strong>to</strong> fish nymphs or streamers, even during hatches. To<br />

each their own. However, ethical and careful treatment of the fish<br />

that has provided <strong>you</strong> enjoyment needs <strong>to</strong> become part of the<br />

process. Truly the key is in educating anglers <strong>to</strong> be respectful of<br />

our fish, their environs and each other.<br />

Encourage <strong>you</strong>r friends and mentees <strong>to</strong> play and release fish<br />

quickly and gently, pinch barbs and carry forceps. Teach them <strong>to</strong><br />

admire fish and not rip lips. Because who will want <strong>to</strong> give that<br />

fish a fond good<strong>by</strong>e smooch next time, with no lips <strong>to</strong> kiss?<br />

As a longtime pho<strong>to</strong>grapher, writer and sportsman-conservationist,<br />

Dale’s work has allowed him <strong>to</strong> experience the outdoors in search of<br />

images <strong>to</strong> tell the s<strong>to</strong>ries of an array of adventures. His assignments<br />

have taken him all over the world, as well as allowing him <strong>to</strong> call<br />

Bozeman, Montana, home.<br />

For summer camping season, BHA is bringing<br />

back our popular kids scavenger hunt. You<br />

have until August 31 <strong>to</strong> find these items and<br />

complete the following tasks. Send a pho<strong>to</strong> of<br />

<strong>you</strong>r collection <strong>to</strong> admin@backcountryhunters.<br />

org and complete the following <strong>to</strong> win a BHA<br />

T-shirt!<br />

COLLECT:<br />

An aquatic insect<br />

A heart-shaped rock<br />

An S-shaped stick<br />

A four-leafed clover<br />

Four pieces of garbage in the woods<br />

Something red<br />

An amphibian or reptile<br />

A bone, antler or horn<br />

COMPLETE:<br />

Catch a fish and cook it<br />

-or-<br />

Catch a fish, name it and release it<br />

Identify the constellation Orion the Hunter<br />

Jump in a river or lake<br />

Find a public land trailhead or access sign<br />

Go <strong>to</strong> the bathroom in the woods<br />

Bring dad or mom their favorite beverage<br />

12 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 13


POLICY<br />

Dale Spartas pho<strong>to</strong><br />

ing lots divided the land even more as agricultural<br />

work ebbed and urban professions<br />

moved in. In the 70 years since World War<br />

II, trees – for the sixth and seventh time<br />

in some places – recolonized human-abandoned<br />

fields, leaving the entire region dramatically<br />

more, and more uniformly, forested<br />

now than a century ago.<br />

This has caused habitat problems for a<br />

number of species. High, uniform forest<br />

canopies block sunlight, stifle forest underbrush<br />

growth, and restrict ecological<br />

diversity. As a result, fewer animal species<br />

find subsistence among these forests.<br />

Deer find less browse, migra<strong>to</strong>ry birds<br />

find fewer berries and nesting sites, and<br />

New England cot<strong>to</strong>ntails find less protection.<br />

What is left is the s<strong>to</strong>ne-silent forest<br />

through which we two hunters passed with<br />

so much discomfort.<br />

A new proposal from the U.S. Fish<br />

and Wildlife Service promises <strong>to</strong> change<br />

these conditions. The Great Thicket National<br />

Wildlife Refuge seeks <strong>to</strong> expand<br />

pre-existing conservation areas in Maine,<br />

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut<br />

and New York. Newly acquired<br />

lands would be managed <strong>to</strong> enhance forest<br />

underbrush habitats for migra<strong>to</strong>ry birds and the New<br />

England cot<strong>to</strong>ntail. Furthermore, depending on local<br />

hunting laws, new areas are also planned <strong>to</strong> be opened <strong>to</strong><br />

USFWS-identified public uses: hunting, fishing, hiking,<br />

pho<strong>to</strong>graphy, environmental education and interpretation.<br />

BHA’s New England Chapter supports this initiative,<br />

in no small part because USFWS has done their homework<br />

well. I have lived close <strong>to</strong> most of the areas where the<br />

agency seeks <strong>to</strong> acquire new properties. These lands mix<br />

forest, meadow, streams and rivers, which over the past<br />

70 years have been left <strong>to</strong> their own devices. Enhanced<br />

thicket habitats will improve deer browsing areas, clean<br />

and free stream flows, and expand access <strong>to</strong> hunting and<br />

fishing in a land where such places are in short supply.<br />

More importantly, the proposal will help educate<br />

southern New Englanders that we can no longer simply<br />

watch our ecosystems fall in<strong>to</strong> eerie silence. We have <strong>to</strong> fill<br />

our role in those systems, and the Great Thicket National<br />

Wildlife Refuge will help us do that.<br />

GREAT THICKET NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE<br />

A Proposed NWR Would Help Res<strong>to</strong>re Natural Unders<strong>to</strong>ry Ecology <strong>to</strong> New England Forests<br />

Matthew is a BHA member and professor of his<strong>to</strong>ry at<br />

the University of Connecticut. After a lifetime spent hiking<br />

northeastern mountains, he turned <strong>to</strong> hunting and bowyering.<br />

He brings insights gained in those efforts in<strong>to</strong> his environmental<br />

his<strong>to</strong>ry teaching and writing. Learn more about<br />

the proposed Great Thicket NWR at www.fws.gov/northeast/<br />

refuges<br />

BY MATTHEW MCKENZIE<br />

WITH EACH CAUTIOUS STEP I <strong>to</strong>ok,<br />

the crunching leaves beneath my feet shattered<br />

the forest’s morning quiet. Looking<br />

through 30 yards of Connecticut red oak<br />

forest, I could see my friend Manuel deliberately<br />

place a foot, wait, then place another.<br />

I did the same, my eyes darting from<br />

my boots <strong>to</strong> the forest around me. Crunch,<br />

wince; crunch, wince. Though frost flowed<br />

slowly from my nostrils, my body sweated<br />

under the strain of moving so slowly<br />

and quietly. Still, each step echoed under<br />

the colorful fall canopy through which<br />

we s<strong>to</strong>le. Try as we might, we shattered<br />

the deep silence, and no whitetail worth a<br />

damn could help but hear us.<br />

It <strong>to</strong>ok us an hour and half <strong>to</strong> cover the<br />

southern half of the 70-acre, rectangular<br />

plot. Our plan was <strong>to</strong> push deer <strong>to</strong>ward<br />

our friend, Juha, who sat on a ridge waiting<br />

<strong>to</strong> take any clean shot that emerged.<br />

Through the trees and mist that greeted<br />

the dawn’s rays we saw no deer. Eerily, we<br />

didn’t see any other animals, either. Beautiful,<br />

crisp, s<strong>to</strong>ne silence provided momentary<br />

relief from our respective professional<br />

obligations on that fall weekend. But as<br />

hunters, we knew something wasn’t right.<br />

We walked through a tall, red oak forest<br />

utterly devoid of forest animals.<br />

Back at camp, I grilled up some sausages<br />

for breakfast while Manuel quietly stared<br />

in<strong>to</strong> the open fire and listened <strong>to</strong> the<br />

morning’s quiet. The sun raised the temperature,<br />

but no squirrels rustled, no birds<br />

flit. As for breakfast, we might as well have<br />

been eating wood-s<strong>to</strong>ve ash: s<strong>to</strong>re-bought<br />

links didn’t do it for either of us.<br />

Like most of southern New England’s<br />

forests, humans have managed this land<br />

parcel for a long time. A thousand years<br />

before European contact, carbon deposits<br />

in lakes reveal that Native Americans’ use<br />

of fire <strong>to</strong> clear underbrush and drive deer<br />

fundamentally shaped forest cover and<br />

species selection. After contact, Europeans<br />

procured (<strong>by</strong> means fair and foul), parceled,<br />

and penned in this land following<br />

the infamous 1637 Pequot War. On the<br />

eve of the Revolution, southern New England<br />

landowners raised sheep and cows.<br />

Following the Civil War, they s<strong>to</strong>pped<br />

even grazing and mowing their land. With<br />

urbanization, demand for suburban hous-<br />

14 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016 WINTER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 15


BACKCOUNTRY BISTRO<br />

SHORELINE<br />

PAELLA<br />

BY SUSAN L. EBERT<br />

CONJURE UP THE LONE STAR STATE,<br />

and <strong>you</strong>’re more apt <strong>to</strong> think of open range<br />

than wetlands, so it may come as a surprise<br />

that Texas boasts 7.6 million acres of<br />

wetlands – much of it in the bot<strong>to</strong>mland<br />

hardwood forests of East Texas. Serving<br />

as kidneys, these swamps filter rivers and<br />

host abundant species of fish, amphibians,<br />

reptiles, birds and mammals. Thankfully,<br />

these cypress cathedrals also offer solace<br />

from summer’s sear, as triple-digit temperatures<br />

often launch in April and run<br />

plumb in<strong>to</strong> Oc<strong>to</strong>ber.<br />

My husband and I made an all-day upriver<br />

foray <strong>to</strong> a remote cypress-rimmed<br />

oxbow, hiking along the tangled shoreline<br />

where crumbling banks reveal pottery<br />

shards poking from middens of long-ago<br />

Akokisa Indian tribes. We paddled silently<br />

past a rookery comprising thousands of<br />

wading birds – heron, egret, ibis, wood<br />

s<strong>to</strong>rk, roseate spoonbill – while keeping<br />

a respectful distance from the numerous<br />

alliga<strong>to</strong>rs sunning themselves on logs.<br />

We caught and released slick swamp bass,<br />

fat crappie and a fierce-looking red-eyed<br />

“stump-knocker,” AKA warmouth bass.<br />

I kept the two plump redear sunfish –<br />

“shellcrackers,” we call ’em here – for our<br />

mid-day feast, and while Shannon probed<br />

around the flooded cypress trunks for a<br />

handful of “swamp reds,” our native wild<br />

crawfish, I built a fire ring in the sandy<br />

loam. Along with what I’d packed in, we<br />

had the makings for a dandy paella, and<br />

the fruit-laden blackberry brambles near<strong>by</strong><br />

provided a fine dessert, <strong>to</strong> boot.<br />

16 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

SHORELINE PAELLA<br />

Paella wonderfully adapts <strong>to</strong> a variety of<br />

proteins. Quail, pheasant or other game<br />

birds (but not waterfowl) make terrific additions,<br />

as do trout, salmon, bass, crappie<br />

or mild-tasting saltwater fish; shrimp, crab,<br />

lobster or mussels elevate the dish <strong>to</strong> sublime.<br />

You’ll need a well-seasoned 10-inch<br />

steel camp skillet, long-handled wooden<br />

spoon, campfire grate and foil.<br />

INGREDIENTS:<br />

2 teaspoons smoked paprika<br />

1/2 teaspoons each salt, pepper, dried<br />

lemon peel<br />

6 ounces dried whole peas<br />

Healthy pinch of saffron threads<br />

4 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage (not<br />

Mexican chorizo) cut in<strong>to</strong> quarter-inchthick<br />

coins, then halved<br />

2 tablespoons olive oil, lard or bacon fat<br />

1 small onion, chopped<br />

4 cloves garlic, minced<br />

1 teaspoon dried parsley<br />

1.5 ounces julienned dried <strong>to</strong>ma<strong>to</strong>es<br />

2 teaspoons chicken “Better than Bouillon”<br />

or two chicken bouillon cubes<br />

8 ounces Bomba rice (short-grained<br />

Spanish rice)<br />

Fish and/or shellfish<br />

At home: Combine paprika, salt, pepper<br />

and lemon peel in a baggie, foil packet or<br />

small container. Assemble remainder of ingredients,<br />

except wild game and seafood.<br />

At camp: In the morning, place peas in a<br />

hot beverage cup, pour in one cup of boiling<br />

water, secure lid and let sit for 6 hours.<br />

To prepare: Sauté chorizo in the oil over<br />

medium heat until it begins <strong>to</strong> brown. Remove<br />

chorizo, leaving the oil in the skillet.<br />

Read more<br />

about out-ofkitchen<br />

food prep at<br />

backcountry<br />

hunters.org.<br />

Make a sofri<strong>to</strong> <strong>by</strong> adding the onions, garlic<br />

and parsley <strong>to</strong> the skillet and sautéing until<br />

golden-brown, then add paprika/salt/pepper/lemon<br />

mixture, retaining a teaspoon<br />

<strong>to</strong> sprinkle on the fish. Add saffron and<br />

<strong>to</strong>ss gently. Next, add two cups of water,<br />

“Better than Bouillon,” dried <strong>to</strong>ma<strong>to</strong> and<br />

peas with their liquid. Cover skillet with<br />

foil and let simmer over low heat for 8 <strong>to</strong><br />

10 minutes.<br />

Uncover skillet and move over higher<br />

heat. Add one cup of water, bring <strong>to</strong> a boil,<br />

and sprinkle rice evenly over the mixture.<br />

(Note: Do not stir! The seasoned skillet,<br />

along with the chorizo and oil, has laid<br />

down a lovely barrier <strong>to</strong> prevent rice from<br />

sticking.) Then sprinkle chorizo over rice.<br />

Cover skillet with foil again, and move<br />

<strong>to</strong> low heat; it should barely simmer. After<br />

five minutes, lift the edge of the foil and<br />

listen: When the simmering becomes a<br />

crackling sound, the rice is beginning <strong>to</strong><br />

form the “soccarat,” that crunchy, caramelized<br />

layer on the pan that, well, makes paella<br />

paella. It should take 10 <strong>to</strong> 12 minutes.<br />

Remove skillet from heat, add one-half<br />

cup water, sprinkle fish fillets on both sides<br />

with reserved seasonings, then lay fillets<br />

and shellfish on <strong>to</strong>p of the rice. Cover<br />

again and place over low heat for 5 minutes.<br />

Remove from heat, and let sit covered<br />

for 5 minutes before serving. Some foraging<br />

might turn up chickweed, salicornia,<br />

watercress or wild onion <strong>to</strong> garnish.<br />

Susan L. Ebert writes about wild game<br />

and fish cuisine for a variety of publications,<br />

on her website, field2table.com and in her<br />

book, The Field <strong>to</strong> Table Cookbook (Welcome<br />

Books, 2016).


LEGACY PARTNERS<br />

Become a<br />

LEGACY<br />

PARTNER<br />

A life spent afield<br />

deserves a legacy.<br />

Leave <strong>you</strong>rs <strong>to</strong>day.<br />

Legacy Partners pledge one-thousand<br />

or more a year, every year.<br />

DONORS MAKING A DIFFERENCE<br />

BY GRANT ALBAN<br />

BHA MEMBERS protect our public lands in many different ways. Some attend rallies and call legisla<strong>to</strong>rs <strong>to</strong> advocate for conservation<br />

while others pull barbed wire or recruit new members. BHA legacy partners are members who have the capacity <strong>to</strong> give and choose<br />

<strong>to</strong> do so. To date, we have 19 Legacy Partners – individuals who give $1000 a year or more <strong>to</strong> help specific programs. Here are three<br />

whose giving has resulted in a recent BHA success s<strong>to</strong>ry.<br />

Other ways <strong>to</strong> give<br />

- P L A N N E D G I V I N G<br />

A N D B E Q U E S T S<br />

- M E M O R I A L<br />

D O N A T I O N S<br />

- C O R P O R A T E<br />

M A T C H I N G G I F T S<br />

- G I V I N G S T O C K<br />

- C O M B I N E D F E D E R A L<br />

C A M P A I G N<br />

To learn more, or <strong>to</strong><br />

donate, please visit:<br />

www.backcountryhunters<br />

.org/donate<br />

or call 406-926-1908 <strong>to</strong> leave<br />

<strong>you</strong>r legacy <strong>to</strong>day<br />

Bendrix Bailey<br />

BHA Legacy Partner<br />

RICHARD KACIN<br />

A Pennsylvanian, Richard has been in<strong>to</strong><br />

the Bob Marshall Wilderness 20 times. He<br />

plans <strong>to</strong> return this summer with his son<br />

and grandson, marking four generations<br />

of Kacins who have been in<strong>to</strong> “the Bob”<br />

(including his dad who first visited before<br />

it was declared wilderness). This past<br />

year, Richard helped fund the BHA College<br />

Club Program. There are now college<br />

clubs popping up on campuses across the<br />

country, engaging the next generation of<br />

sportsmen.<br />

BHA: Why are <strong>you</strong> a legacy partner?<br />

Richard: I believe in the mission. My<br />

son and I stumbled upon <strong>you</strong>r magazine<br />

in a Missoula fly shop, and it was instant<br />

for me. It was easy <strong>to</strong> see how important<br />

this organization is for me, my family and<br />

generations <strong>to</strong> follow.<br />

BHA: What’s the legacy <strong>you</strong> want <strong>to</strong><br />

leave the hunting and fishing community?<br />

Richard: That I care about nature and<br />

wild places and hopefully I’ve passed that<br />

on <strong>to</strong> my boys and grandsons. Hunting<br />

and fishing have been wonderful experiences<br />

that I shared with my father and<br />

continue <strong>to</strong> share with my sons, grandsons<br />

and friends.<br />

BHA: If <strong>you</strong> could hunt any animal,<br />

anywhere, with any weapon, what would<br />

it be?<br />

Richard: It would be a really nice Pennsylvania<br />

mountain whitetail with my<br />

Browning lever action .308.<br />

NICK NICHOLS<br />

Raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Nick<br />

has lived on both coasts but now lives in<br />

Missoula, Montana, where he tends <strong>to</strong><br />

his horses and looks forward <strong>to</strong> pheasant<br />

season. Last year Nick offered up the<br />

necessary funds <strong>to</strong> allow MT BHA <strong>to</strong> get<br />

its own license plate. Now our Montana<br />

chapter is getting exposure and revenue <strong>to</strong><br />

drive their efforts.<br />

BHA: Tell us about <strong>you</strong>r first hunting<br />

experience.<br />

Nick: As an underclassman, I went with<br />

a senior who wanted <strong>to</strong> shoot a bear so he<br />

could impress the ladies with a bearskin<br />

rug on his dorm room floor. Lo and behold,<br />

he shot a bear. We tanned the hide in<br />

the Dartmouth woodshop. (The bear rug<br />

was a hit.)<br />

BHA: Why are <strong>you</strong> a legacy partner?<br />

Nick: We believe in Land Tawney and<br />

keeping public lands in public hands. Also,<br />

I think the checkerboarding has led <strong>to</strong> unintended<br />

access problems for us all, and I’d<br />

love <strong>to</strong> see corner easements so these public<br />

lands can’t be held hostage, opening lands<br />

that should be open <strong>to</strong> all.<br />

BHA: If <strong>you</strong> could fish anywhere, where<br />

would it be?<br />

Nick: Wyoming’s North Platte for rainbows<br />

and big browns.<br />

BLAKE FISCHER<br />

Fortunate <strong>to</strong> grow up in the outdoors<br />

of Idaho, Blake lives a life that revolves<br />

around hunting, fishing and conservation.<br />

Last year he contributed the funds<br />

that allowed BHA <strong>to</strong> hire a Southwest<br />

chapter coordina<strong>to</strong>r.<br />

BHA: You helped fund our Southwest<br />

coordina<strong>to</strong>r position – why is that important<br />

<strong>to</strong> <strong>you</strong>?<br />

Blake: I knew that helping <strong>to</strong> fund the<br />

BHA’s expansion would produce some<br />

long term gains that will have a long term<br />

impact on the organization.<br />

BHA: Why do <strong>you</strong> support BHA?<br />

Blake: BHA is the perfect organization<br />

for me. I love that BHA is focused on habitat<br />

and access, not a single species. This<br />

all-encompassing mission makes BHA extremely<br />

appealing <strong>to</strong> someone like me who<br />

hunts and fishes for multiple species.<br />

BHA: What else do <strong>you</strong> do <strong>to</strong> support<br />

BHA?<br />

Blake: I am a big recruiter for new<br />

members. I’ve done this <strong>by</strong> hosting a backyard<br />

barbecue last summer with some other<br />

Idaho folks. I believe that the best way<br />

<strong>to</strong> grow BHA is through a grassroots effort.<br />

And I believe all my hunting buddies are<br />

members.<br />

BHA: If <strong>you</strong> could hunt anything, what<br />

would it be?<br />

Blake: Idaho backcountry for mountain<br />

goat with a recurve.<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 19


CHAPTER NEWS<br />

BHA STATE CHAPTERS:<br />

<strong>Summer</strong> Camp-outs and Boots-on-the-ground<br />

Conservation Projects Keep Members Busy<br />

ALASKA<br />

<strong>Summer</strong> has come <strong>to</strong> Alaska, and<br />

snow and ice are giving way <strong>to</strong> green tundra<br />

and flowing rivers. Salmon are steadily<br />

making their way upriver, and AK BHA<br />

members are already in<strong>to</strong> the frantic pace<br />

of summer, out and about enjoying our<br />

public lands and preparing for the upcoming<br />

fall season. Our April event featuring<br />

Bill Hanlon was a <strong>to</strong>tal success, surpassing<br />

all expectations. Many thanks <strong>to</strong> Bill,<br />

Chapter Coordina<strong>to</strong>r Ty Stubblefield,<br />

President/CEO Land Tawney and all the<br />

AK BHA folks who put in the hard work<br />

<strong>to</strong> pull it off, and welcome <strong>to</strong> the 21 new<br />

members who signed up at the event and<br />

in the days following.<br />

Work continues <strong>to</strong> build membership<br />

and chapter involvement, including an expansion<br />

chapter in Anchorage and engaging<br />

current membership all over the state.<br />

We are continuing educational outreach<br />

<strong>to</strong> new hunters and members of our military<br />

community through workshops and,<br />

in an exciting new development, video. It’s<br />

an exciting time for BHA in the 49 th state!<br />

-Mike Rodgers<br />

BRITISH COLUMBIA<br />

On May 7 the British Columbia<br />

Chapter of <strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters<br />

& Anglers held their first “Boots on the<br />

Ground” habitat enhancement work party<br />

at the Nature Trust of British Columbia’s<br />

365 hectare Sheep Mountain conservation<br />

property, which is located 10 kilometers<br />

south of Elko, BC. Fifteen eager members<br />

showed up with work gloves, fencing pliers,<br />

jack-alls and chains <strong>to</strong> remove a section<br />

of old dilapidated barbed wire fencing <strong>to</strong><br />

make the area safe for wildlife movement.<br />

This was BCBHA’s first opportunity <strong>to</strong><br />

partner with The Nature Trust of BC<br />

(TNT) <strong>to</strong> ensure these important land acquisitions<br />

continue <strong>to</strong> provide the foundation<br />

for healthy wildlife populations and<br />

quiet, quality hunting and fishing opportunities.<br />

Because at <strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters<br />

& Anglers, hunting and fishing isn’t what<br />

we do – it’s who we are. -Bill Hanlon<br />

CALIFORNIA<br />

The California Chapter had a<br />

table at the North American Longbow<br />

Safari, July 2 and 3, hosted <strong>by</strong> Traditional<br />

Archers of California, in Petaluma.<br />

Two of our membership committee<br />

members are organizing trail cleanups<br />

in Los Padres National Forest, Monterey<br />

Ranger District. We already have a signed<br />

agreement from the assistant recreation<br />

officer. These cleanups will be happening<br />

throughout the summer months and in<strong>to</strong><br />

the fall. We will be looking for volunteers<br />

from Chapter members and members of<br />

the public as well. Should be a good time<br />

not only doing productive, needed work<br />

but also a great way <strong>to</strong> meet people and<br />

introduce them <strong>to</strong> BHA. Please keep visiting<br />

our Facebook page for upcoming dates<br />

and times. I’ve seen firsthand just how<br />

much trash is out there in what should be<br />

our most pristine forest areas in our state,<br />

and this type of work can repair the damage<br />

done <strong>by</strong> irresponsible users of our precious<br />

public lands.<br />

One of our members in San Diego will<br />

have a BHA table set up at a large archery<br />

event being held there on Sunday, June<br />

19. The King Arthur Tournament, held<br />

on Father’s Day each year, is a 40 target,<br />

80 arrow (two arrows per target), Knights<br />

of the Round Table-themed <strong>to</strong>urnament.<br />

This is one of the largest events held <strong>by</strong> the<br />

San Diego Archers each year and draws<br />

archers from all over Southern California<br />

and beyond. This should be another good<br />

opportunity <strong>to</strong> meet people and introduce<br />

them <strong>to</strong> BHA.<br />

Some of us will be joining legisla<strong>to</strong>rs<br />

and their staffers for what should be a<br />

fun day of skeet shooting on June 22nd<br />

at the Outdoor Sporting Caucus Annual<br />

Trap and Skeet Shoot in Rancho Cordova.<br />

At least one of our chapter members<br />

will be joining legisla<strong>to</strong>rs and their staffers<br />

on July 14 at the Outdoor Sporting Caucus<br />

Offshore Fishing Trip in Dana Point.<br />

-James Kresser<br />

COLORADO<br />

Colorado BHA held its eighth annual<br />

rendezvous during early June<br />

in the San Isabel National Forest west of<br />

Salida. During the weekend we recognized<br />

BHA Life Member Steven Choromanski<br />

for spearheading the chapter’s efforts <strong>to</strong> get<br />

“smart rifles” and “live-action game cameras”<br />

banned for use in Colorado <strong>by</strong> the<br />

Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission<br />

(approved Nov. 2015). We also celebrated<br />

the 90th birthday of chapter patriarch and<br />

WWII Navy Veteran, Bill Sustrich.<br />

Life Member Rick Seymour was recognized<br />

as BHA’s volunteer of the month for<br />

May 2016. He singlehandedly coordinated<br />

the chapter’s participation in the Train<br />

<strong>to</strong> Hunt Challenge that was held in Eagle.<br />

He also lined up sponsors and donations<br />

for the event and joined the chapter’s leadership<br />

team, becoming our sponsorship/<br />

events coordina<strong>to</strong>r. Habitat Watchman<br />

Volunteer Adam Gall joined the chapter<br />

leadership team <strong>to</strong>o, accepting a position<br />

as assistant west-central regional direc<strong>to</strong>r.<br />

Not <strong>to</strong> be outdone, Habitat Watch Volunteer<br />

Brad Nicol <strong>to</strong>ok on the chapter’s<br />

Front Range CPW liaison position.<br />

Another of the chapter’s habitat watch<br />

volunteers, Chol McGlynn, volunteered<br />

his culinary skills <strong>to</strong> dazzle the palates of<br />

guests at BHA’s North American Rendezvous<br />

Tack Barn Dinner. Southwest Regional<br />

Direc<strong>to</strong>r Dan Parkinson submitted<br />

Colorado BHA comments on the Draft<br />

EIS Weminuche Landscape Grazing Analysis.<br />

BHA’s Campus Outreach Coordina<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Sawyer Connelly, coordinated with<br />

chapter leaders <strong>to</strong> organize a “Beers for the<br />

<strong>Backcountry</strong>” get-<strong>to</strong>gether in Colorado<br />

Springs.<br />

Geordie Robinson organized Colorado<br />

BHA’s wildly successful Second Annual<br />

Wild Game Cook-off at Großen Bart<br />

Brewery in Longmont. Colorado BHA<br />

founder David Petersen was the subject of<br />

a documentary film, “On the Wild Edge,”<br />

featured at the DocuWest Film Festival in<br />

Denver. And the chapter sponsored Fulldraw<br />

Film Tour showings in Gunnison,<br />

Montrose and Steamboat. -David Lien<br />

MINNESOTA<br />

Minnesota BHA board member<br />

and filmmaker Mark Norquist<br />

was the recipient of BHA’s Sigurd Olson<br />

Award at the North American Rendezvous<br />

in Missoula. Mark’s award-winning film<br />

“Fish Out of Water” (along with “Flush in<br />

the Wild”) highlights efforts <strong>to</strong> protect the<br />

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness<br />

in northern Minnesota from proposed sulfide-ore<br />

copper mines.<br />

The chapter also had op-eds in the Duluth<br />

News Tribune, St. Cloud Times and<br />

AmmoLand.com in support of Gov. Day<strong>to</strong>n’s<br />

decision <strong>to</strong> oppose sulfide mines on<br />

the periphery of the BWCAW. We also<br />

have a new section on our website highlighting<br />

efforts <strong>to</strong> protect the BWCAW<br />

from such mines. Chapter volunteers<br />

staffed a BHA table at the Rapids Archery<br />

traditional shoot (June 18-19), and the<br />

chapter appointed Hans Erdman as the<br />

habitat watch volunteer for the Superior<br />

National Forest (lands outside of the BW-<br />

CAW) along with the Pat Bayle at the Finland<br />

State Forests.<br />

Chapter board members Will Jenkins<br />

and Joe Lang coordinated MN BHA’s participation<br />

in a Train <strong>to</strong> Hunt Challenge<br />

Colorado BHA celebrated the 90th birthday of<br />

chapter patriach and WWII Navy Veteran Bill<br />

Sustrich during their eighth annual summer<br />

rendezvous in the San isabel National Forest.<br />

Happy Birthday, Bill!<br />

(July 30-31) just across the state line in<br />

Wisconsin at the Chilakoot Bowhunters<br />

Club. The fourth-annual chapter rendezvous<br />

is scheduled for Aug. 19-21 in Wild<br />

River State Park on the St. Croix River<br />

north of Minneapolis-St. Paul near Center<br />

City.<br />

In an outdoor news s<strong>to</strong>ry featuring the<br />

chapter’s rapidly growing influence “Passion<br />

for public lands bolsters ranks of<br />

BHA,” edi<strong>to</strong>r Rob Drieslein said, “After<br />

moni<strong>to</strong>ring BHA for a decade, I’ve seen the<br />

group gain momentum. … Why has BHA<br />

suddenly reached critical mass? Thank (or<br />

blame) the growing assault on our nation’s<br />

public lands. … These BHAers are the<br />

guys who will drive 15 hours west, pitch<br />

a tent, then spend days stalking mule deer<br />

through sage or bagging multiple mountain<br />

peaks chasing a 6-<strong>by</strong>-6 elk.”<br />

He continued, “They’ve been involved<br />

with the DNR Learn <strong>to</strong> Hunt Whitetail<br />

Deer program for new adults, emphasized<br />

20 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 21


The British Columbia Chapter of BHA held a boots-on-the-ground habitat enhancement work party in May on Sheep Mountain near Elko. Pho<strong>to</strong> left <strong>to</strong> right: Niki<br />

Dalke (BCBHA direc<strong>to</strong>r), Aden Stewart (BCBHA secretary) Kyle Dalke (BCBHA direc<strong>to</strong>r), Jim Campbell, Pheonix Dalke, Gary Babcock, Seth Ryley, Jim Ryley, Eas<strong>to</strong>n<br />

Dalke, Ty Ryley, Doran Carter, Tanis Barkman, Bill Hanlon (BCBHA chair) Doug Martin and Rob Neil (TNT regional land manager)<br />

public lands and clean water issues, hunting<br />

ethics, regulating drones, and … advocating<br />

for expanding Minnesota’s elk herd.<br />

… The group opposes sulfide mining<br />

proposals. … They’re not anti-ATV, but if<br />

<strong>you</strong>’re driving a quad in a restricted area<br />

and cross paths with these guys, expect an<br />

ass-chewing… and a probably phone call<br />

<strong>to</strong> the local TIP line.” -David Lien<br />

22 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

NEW ENGLAND<br />

Connecticut: A number of inquiries<br />

about membership came from<br />

Connecticut this spring. Board member<br />

Matthew McKenzie has met with one individual,<br />

Andy Billip, and <strong>to</strong>gether they<br />

are planning a southern New England<br />

BHA rendezvous outside Hartford later<br />

in the summer. Details <strong>to</strong> follow as they<br />

are firmed up. Possible rendezvous events<br />

under consideration include a primitive<br />

bow 3D shoot, a discussion of issues BHA<br />

should engage on, a York Round/long<br />

range primitive bow shoot, and a roundtable<br />

on “What is backcountry?” in suburban<br />

southern New England.<br />

Maine: Chapter Board Co-Chair Rob<br />

Bryan met the Department of Fisheries<br />

and Wildlife’s wildlife management area<br />

supervisor <strong>to</strong> discuss the potential for<br />

BHA assistance with WMA moni<strong>to</strong>ring<br />

and hands-on management assistance. In<br />

late April, Maine members gathered for a<br />

field day at Bradbury Mountain State Park<br />

for some pre-season fly casting and turkey<br />

calling practice and <strong>to</strong> discuss state conservation<br />

issues. The event netted several<br />

new members.<br />

Massachusetts: In response <strong>to</strong> the<br />

chapter’s notice that we currently have no<br />

board members from the Bay State, several<br />

members came forward and expressed<br />

interest in becoming more involved in the<br />

chapter. Mass. members please stay tuned!<br />

New Hampshire: A bill made its way<br />

through the house, originated <strong>by</strong> NE<br />

Chapter board member Dan Williams <strong>to</strong><br />

ban winter feeding of deer. It had strong<br />

support from NH F&G but it stalled at<br />

the Fish and Game Committee level where<br />

it was thought <strong>to</strong> be <strong>to</strong>o hard on companies<br />

that manufacture cracked corn, s<strong>to</strong>res<br />

that sell it, and farmers. At last update it<br />

is being amended <strong>to</strong> remove any repercussions<br />

on these stakeholders.<br />

Vermont: Board members Eric Nuse<br />

and Tovar Cerulli gave presentations at the<br />

International Hunter Education Association’s<br />

annual meeting held in Vergennes,<br />

Vermont. Tovar was on panel titled<br />

“Non-Traditional Hunters and Challenges<br />

Facing Hunters & Hunting Tomorrow.”<br />

Eric spoke on trends in long range hunting<br />

as it relates <strong>to</strong> fair chase hunting and the<br />

sportsman’s thesis. Eric is also involved in<br />

ongoing negotiations for FERC relicensing<br />

of the Green River Reservoir Hydro facility.<br />

The power company has threatened<br />

<strong>to</strong> drain the reservoir if it is forced <strong>to</strong> meet<br />

new environmental standards. A wilderness-like<br />

state park surrounds the reservoir<br />

and is home <strong>to</strong> moose, loons and a great<br />

bass population. No mo<strong>to</strong>rs are allowed<br />

on the water and it has no development<br />

on its shores. -Dan Williams<br />

NEW YORK<br />

Member Todd Waldron has<br />

been keeping us up <strong>to</strong> date on the recent<br />

NYS DEC acquisition of the 20,758-acre<br />

Boreas Pond Tract purchase in the Adirondacks.<br />

Later this year NYS’s land classification<br />

process is expected <strong>to</strong> begin and is<br />

anticipated <strong>to</strong> consider a range of stakeholder<br />

considerations <strong>to</strong> BHA, including:<br />

designation of additional wilderness, mo<strong>to</strong>rized<br />

access and dam removal.<br />

NYS Chapter members have been communicating<br />

regularly <strong>to</strong> identify and prioritize<br />

state issues, devise outreach and<br />

communication strategies, and plan a<br />

chapter get-<strong>to</strong>gether during the summer<br />

of 2016. Chapter member Todd Waldron<br />

is also working on assembling a chapter<br />

newsletter, which is intended <strong>to</strong> serve as<br />

<strong>to</strong>ol for internal chapter communication<br />

and aid in membership recruitment and<br />

retention. -Dave Colavi<strong>to</strong><br />

WASHINGTON<br />

Washing<strong>to</strong>n chapter and BHA<br />

Chapter Coordina<strong>to</strong>r Ty Stubblefield,<br />

held a pint night hosted <strong>by</strong> Justin<br />

Klement, in Everett Washing<strong>to</strong>n. Chapter<br />

members attended a listening program<br />

from the Colville National Forest staff on<br />

the forest management plan. Chapter and<br />

individual members submitted comments<br />

on the Colville National Forest Management<br />

Plan. Chapter members attended<br />

and supported Dave Chadwick, Montana<br />

Wildlife Federation, debating Ken Ivory,<br />

founding president of the American Lands<br />

Council and a Utah state legisla<strong>to</strong>r, in the<br />

turning over of federal lands <strong>to</strong> state control.<br />

Mr. Ivory advocated that federal lands<br />

be turned over <strong>to</strong> state control. Mr. Chadwick<br />

promotes that federal lands be managed<br />

<strong>by</strong> the federal government. Chapter<br />

members participated in the annual Idaho<br />

conservation project in the Craig Mountains.<br />

Chapter member participated in the<br />

Columbia River Treaty Forum. Chapter<br />

members sent letters <strong>to</strong> state and federal<br />

legisla<strong>to</strong>rs concerning the transfer of federal<br />

lands and fire funding of state and<br />

federal lands. -Bob Mirasole<br />

WISCONSIN<br />

The Wisconsin Chapter of BHA<br />

was formed in March and has hit<br />

the ground running <strong>to</strong> tackle issues of<br />

conservation, public lands and waters access,<br />

and raising awareness of the chapter’s<br />

creation. We worked with the outdoor<br />

edi<strong>to</strong>r in the Milwaukee <strong>Journal</strong> Sentinel<br />

and published an article on the chapter’s<br />

formation.<br />

On May 11th we held a happy hour<br />

in Milwaukee <strong>to</strong> bring members <strong>to</strong>gether<br />

and plan <strong>to</strong> hold similar events in the future<br />

throughout the state. We are working<br />

with the WI DNR <strong>to</strong> assist with a cleanup<br />

day at Bluff Creek State Natural Area<br />

on July 9th. Additionally we are working<br />

<strong>to</strong> bring a showing of the Full Draw Film<br />

Tour <strong>to</strong> Milwaukee in July.<br />

To learn more about WI BHA check us<br />

out on Facebook at Wisconsin Chapter of<br />

<strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters & Anglers. -Mike<br />

Neiduski<br />

WYOMING<br />

The big news from the Wyoming<br />

Chapter is the new regulation regarding<br />

aircraft and drone use. Buzz Hettick<br />

and Jeff Mura<strong>to</strong>re both testified at the<br />

April Game and Fish commission meeting<br />

in favor of the regulation. The commission<br />

adopted the regulations banning<br />

the use of aircraft and drones from Aug.<br />

1 <strong>to</strong> Jan. 31 with the intent of using them<br />

<strong>to</strong> hunt, scout or aid in the taking of big<br />

game. Wyoming BHA put a lot of effort<br />

in<strong>to</strong> this, and it is great <strong>to</strong> have this issue<br />

settled. We would also like the thank the<br />

Wyoming Game and Fish Department<br />

and the Game and Fish Commission for<br />

adopting this regulation.<br />

The Wyoming Chapter also hosted three<br />

hunter happy hours, one in Douglas and<br />

two in Casper. All three were successful<br />

and resulted in 20 new members joining<br />

the Wyoming Chapter. The chapter is also<br />

in the process of hosting several Full Draw<br />

Film Tour events across the state.<br />

The chapter also recently completed a<br />

work day in Rogers Canyon near Laramie.<br />

We had 10 members show up and clean<br />

up a popular shooting area on BLM lands.<br />

We picked up 11 truckloads of trash and<br />

the area is now looking very good. We<br />

have a couple more work days planned<br />

this summer on different projects.<br />

Finally, we are also working on getting<br />

two very bad state land exchanges<br />

s<strong>to</strong>pped. They will cost hunters and recreationists<br />

a lot of access and hunting opportunities.<br />

Access is very important <strong>to</strong><br />

the Wyoming Chapter, and we will do all<br />

we can <strong>to</strong> maintain access <strong>to</strong> public lands.<br />

-Buzz Hettick<br />

Where this<br />

happens.<br />

Grips and grins. Loud whoops and<br />

bent rods. Great friendships and fine<br />

dining. It’s happening in Missoula,<br />

and we‘re here <strong>to</strong> share it with <strong>you</strong>.<br />

missoulafishingcompany.com<br />

406-544-5208<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 23


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STREAM ACCESS NOW!<br />

A SPECIAL FEATURE ABOUT AMERICA’S RIVERS AND BHA’S NEW CAMPAIGN<br />

Corey Kruitbosch pho<strong>to</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

BY SAM LUNGREN<br />

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF FLOWING WATERS IS AN<br />

UNDISPUTED DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE.<br />

Even before Americans decided <strong>to</strong> s<strong>to</strong>p obeying the rest of Britain’s<br />

antiquated laws and Old World traditions, our rivers were<br />

used <strong>by</strong> all members of society – for hydration, transportation,<br />

sanitation, power, commerce, agriculture, hunting and angling.<br />

And that was before the sporting pursuits were simply for sport.<br />

On the frontier, <strong>to</strong> bar another man from drinking from a river or<br />

catching a fish might very well kill him.<br />

Living conditions have changed these centuries later, but flowing<br />

waters are no less valuable. And thankfully, the citizens of<br />

America still own her streams. Yet in a regression <strong>to</strong>ward European<br />

ideas of propriety, the ground below those streams is no longer<br />

universally public. Each state has the right <strong>to</strong> define such laws,<br />

and while some have governed in favor of their citizens, others<br />

favor their waterfront landowners. While anyone may walk below<br />

the high water mark on any river in Montana, <strong>to</strong> do so on the<br />

same stream in Wyoming might get <strong>you</strong> fined. This is a disparity<br />

of freedom <strong>to</strong> wander the wild reaches of a river, freedom <strong>to</strong> drop<br />

anchor <strong>to</strong> eat lunch. As the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public<br />

lands, waters and wildlife, <strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters & Anglers calls<br />

foul on that disparity.<br />

Stream Access Now is BHA’s latest endeavor <strong>to</strong> improve public<br />

fishing and hunting access and opportunity nationwide. We<br />

believe that streambed walking access, so essential <strong>to</strong> fishing and<br />

waterfowling opportunity, is not being discussed or defended at<br />

a national level – and sportsmen are literally losing ground in<br />

some states. Many organizations are already doing great work on<br />

these issues at a local level. We want <strong>to</strong> support and magnify their<br />

efforts. In places where no such organizations exist, we want <strong>to</strong><br />

empower a constituency <strong>to</strong> engage in the stream access debate.<br />

BHA aims <strong>to</strong> elevate the issue of public streambed access using<br />

the following approach:<br />

26 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

1. Educate: Serve as a resource for informing and generating<br />

awareness within the sportsmen’s community about the challenge<br />

of stream access – establishing it, upholding it, and defending<br />

it – state <strong>by</strong> state.<br />

2. Motivate: Give sportsmen and women the <strong>to</strong>ols, knowledge<br />

and impetus <strong>to</strong> speak up on the issue of stream access. Illustrate<br />

what’s at stake for our community if we fail <strong>to</strong> gain – or<br />

we lose – the ability <strong>to</strong> access the public waters flowing through<br />

the nation’s rivers and streams. Highlight this issue and spark<br />

conversations about access.<br />

3. Activate: Build an army of hunter-angler advocates who<br />

can react quickly and nimbly <strong>to</strong> potential threats and take advantage<br />

of opportunities <strong>to</strong> improve public access. Leverage<br />

the power of BHA’s on-staff resources <strong>to</strong> advance these efforts,<br />

providing targeted assistance <strong>to</strong> achieve policy objectives in the<br />

state and national arenas.<br />

To accomplish this, we’re joining forces with the outdoor industry<br />

– businesses with a vested interest in free public stream<br />

access. Many already are committed <strong>to</strong> Stream Access Now. Their<br />

support is helping us jumpstart our efforts via a crowdfunding<br />

campaign <strong>to</strong> provide Stream Access Now with a reliable foundation.<br />

The hope is that, <strong>by</strong> giving concerned sportsmen a stake<br />

in the process, we will simultaneously create an army of bootson-the-ground<br />

conservationists <strong>to</strong> demand the public streambed<br />

access that is our birthright as Americans.<br />

Make no mistake. Though the opponents of public access may<br />

be a minority, their influence often exceeds our own. Through<br />

well-funded lob<strong>by</strong>ing and political clout, these individuals are<br />

constantly seeking <strong>to</strong> erode the public’s rights <strong>to</strong> access our waterways.<br />

We have an upstream hike ahead of us, through heavy<br />

current. But who better <strong>to</strong> take those strides than a group of backcountry<br />

hunters and anglers?<br />

Visit streamaccessnow.com <strong>to</strong> learn more and support this new<br />

effort. Sign the Stream Access Pledge and join others who are<br />

committed <strong>to</strong> upholding our rights <strong>to</strong> access America’s streams.<br />

STREAM ACCESS PLEDGE:<br />

I believe that, as flowing water is the property of the people, so <strong>to</strong>o is the earth it flows over in normal course.<br />

Private property rights must be respected and hunters and anglers should be allowed <strong>to</strong> wade and float below the<br />

high water mark. I will defend the democratic principle of public access and join other dedicated sportsmen and<br />

women in defense of our rights and traditions.<br />

Protecting What’s Ours:<br />

Montana Public Land and Water Access Association’s Decades-long Battle for Access<br />

BY E. DONNALL THOMAS JR.<br />

A HUNTER HEADS OUT EARLY ONE MORNING <strong>to</strong> visit a<br />

favorite duck blind on public property, only <strong>to</strong> find a new gate<br />

across a public road. Two elk hunters drive <strong>to</strong>ward public land<br />

in the Missouri River Breaks and run in<strong>to</strong> a locked gate across<br />

a road they’d traveled freely for years. Fly fishermen arrive at a<br />

bridge over a famous trout stream and find the route <strong>to</strong> the water<br />

barred <strong>by</strong> No Trespassing signs and electric fences. Welcome <strong>to</strong><br />

the New West.<br />

All of these events <strong>to</strong>ok place in Montana. The wildlife resources<br />

beyond those newly erected barriers lie in the public domain.<br />

Recreationists had utilized those routes <strong>to</strong> reach them for decades,<br />

and a large body of evidence supported their status as legal rights<br />

of way. But there s<strong>to</strong>od the gates and fences, more tangible than<br />

any dusty court record. And they would probably remain there indefinitely<br />

save for tireless effort <strong>by</strong> a small, all-volunteer non-profit<br />

group called the Public Land and Water Access Association, or<br />

PLWA.<br />

Stream Access: One State’s His<strong>to</strong>ry<br />

In 1977, future members of what would become the Montana<br />

Coalition for Stream Access Inc. (and subsequently, after a series<br />

of name changes, PLWA) filed suit against a streamside landowner<br />

who was harassing recreational floaters on the Dearborn River.<br />

After the usual legal delays and maneuvering, the state supreme<br />

court, citing the public trust doctrine, ruled in MCSAI v. Curran<br />

that “any surface waters capable of use for recreational purposes<br />

are available for such use <strong>by</strong> the public.” The same year, the court<br />

addressed another suit against a landowner who planned <strong>to</strong> string<br />

a cable across the Beaverhead <strong>to</strong> prevent anglers from floating the<br />

river. In MCSAI v. Hildreth, the court held that if a stream is<br />

navigable for recreational purposes it can be used for such up <strong>to</strong><br />

the mean high water mark without regard <strong>to</strong> adjacent ownership<br />

of land.<br />

These key cases led <strong>to</strong> the 1985 passage of Montana’s Stream<br />

Access Law, which survived multiple landowner appeals <strong>to</strong> higher<br />

courts. Today that law allows anglers and other recreationists <strong>to</strong><br />

enjoy some of the country’s best fishing and is crucial <strong>to</strong> the state’s<br />

economically vital outdoor recreation industry. One might think<br />

that after these dramatic vic<strong>to</strong>ries in both the courts and the legislature<br />

we could all just relax and go fishing. One would be wrong.<br />

The Bridges of Madison County<br />

There isn’t much <strong>to</strong> Seyler Lane, and most of us would never<br />

know of its existence save for several accidents of geography. The<br />

road runs across a bridge over the Ru<strong>by</strong> River in southwestern<br />

Montana’s Madison County. The road and the bridge long enjoyed<br />

an established prescriptive easement that provided recreational<br />

floaters and anglers access <strong>to</strong> the water. The private property<br />

on either side of the bridge is now part of a trophy ranch<br />

owned <strong>by</strong> James Cox Kennedy, an Atlanta-based media billionaire<br />

who has expressed little love for the public.<br />

In 2000, state At<strong>to</strong>rney General Joseph Mazurek issued an opin-<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 27


STREAM ACCESS<br />

Members of the Public Land and Water Access Association. Don Thomas pho<strong>to</strong>.<br />

ion stating that the public may gain access <strong>to</strong> Montana streams <strong>by</strong><br />

using a bridge, its right of way and abutments, and that the road<br />

easement does not narrow at the bridge. Nonetheless, Kennedy<br />

erected fences between the bridge and the water in 2003. When<br />

Madison County commissioners refused <strong>to</strong> remove these impediments,<br />

PLWA filed suit in 2004. So began a long, drawn-out legal<br />

battle whose complexity and duration threaten <strong>to</strong> rival the case of<br />

Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.<br />

In 2007, Kennedy filed a motion formally asking the court<br />

<strong>to</strong> bar all access at Seyler Lane and two other bridges over the<br />

Ru<strong>by</strong> that border his property. The district court ruled in favor of<br />

PLWA on the other two bridges but delayed ruling on Seyler Lane<br />

on procedural grounds. In 2009, the state legislature passed the<br />

Bridge Access Law, which states that the public must be allowed<br />

<strong>to</strong> access streams from public roads and bridges. Nonetheless, in<br />

2012 the district court issued a delayed ruling on Seyler Lane that<br />

held against the PLWA position.<br />

On appeal <strong>by</strong> PLWA, the state Supreme Court overturned the<br />

lower court decision and directed it <strong>to</strong> establish public access <strong>to</strong><br />

the Ru<strong>by</strong> at Seyler Lane. During those proceedings, Kennedy’s<br />

at<strong>to</strong>rney acknowledged that their goal was <strong>to</strong> overturn Montana’s<br />

1985 Stream Access Law, which many regard as the most progressive<br />

and enlightened in the nation. During argument, Justice<br />

Patricia Potter pointed out that the Montana constitution states,<br />

“All the waters are the property of the state for the use of the<br />

people,” and asked Kennedy’s at<strong>to</strong>rney if he was requesting the<br />

court <strong>to</strong> rule the constitution unconstitutional. He said yes, leaving<br />

many observers baffled <strong>by</strong> the notion of an unconstitutional<br />

constitution.<br />

Again, one might think that a decisive Supreme Court ruling<br />

would leave the matter settled, and again one would be wrong.<br />

Thanks <strong>to</strong> endless delaying tactics, the remedy the Supreme Court<br />

ordered the lower court <strong>to</strong> provide in the matter of Seyler Lane<br />

has yet <strong>to</strong> materialize. Perhaps this should come as no surprise,<br />

given that one side in the dispute has virtually unlimited financial<br />

resources at its disposal while the other relies on small donations<br />

from the outdoor community <strong>to</strong> cover its legal costs (and I would<br />

note that the Montana-based at<strong>to</strong>rneys representing PLWA have<br />

been exceedingly generous with their time and their fees). Maybe<br />

someday a definitive resolution will be handed down… but that’s<br />

what Dickens’ characters said of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and it<br />

28 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

hadn’t happened <strong>by</strong> the end of the book.<br />

An Eye <strong>to</strong> the Future<br />

In this piece I have concentrated on PLWA’s work on streams<br />

and rivers simply because of BHA’s current (and most welcome)<br />

focus on stream access. It is important <strong>to</strong> appreciate that the<br />

group works on behalf of hunters as well as anglers. While its<br />

biggest vic<strong>to</strong>ries <strong>to</strong> date may have involved stream access, it is<br />

currently involved in multiple cases in which outfitters and landowners<br />

have impeded access <strong>to</strong> areas that offer some of the best<br />

public land hunting in the country.<br />

While no one at PLWA is interested in personal publicity, a few<br />

individuals deserve mention. Tony Schoonen and Jerry Manley<br />

played key roles in drafting the 1985 Stream Access Law. John<br />

Gibson has provided years of effective leadership. Bernie Lea is<br />

a master at researching old court records for documentation of<br />

public use. The only reward they have received for their work is<br />

the satisfaction of knowing they have served the public interest<br />

and made Montana a better place.<br />

PLWA is a small, grassroots organization that runs on the enthusiasm<br />

and energy of its volunteers. Most of us recognize that<br />

despite important past vic<strong>to</strong>ries, the fight is just beginning. Land<br />

ownership patterns are changing dramatically throughout the<br />

West. Attempts <strong>to</strong> privatize and commercialize public wildlife<br />

resources have become commonplace, and attacks on the North<br />

American Model and the public trust doctrine are accelerating in<br />

intensity. PLWA and its supporters are up against big money, and<br />

when vast financial resources face off against the public interest,<br />

the default position isn’t pretty.<br />

I’ll close with two specific suggestions. First, visit plwa.org and<br />

offer whatever help <strong>you</strong> can. The group’s leadership is aging and<br />

would welcome new blood. Second, get involved with <strong>you</strong>r state<br />

BHA chapter and advocate for working on stream access. The<br />

issues PLWA is tackling are not just Montana issues. They involve<br />

all of us. BHA National can provide a tremendous framework<br />

of support, but there is no substitute for action at the state level.<br />

These are indeed the times that try men’s souls, and no one can<br />

assume that someone else is solving our problems for us.<br />

After spending his adult life in Montana and Alaska, Don and his<br />

wife Lori now winter in Arizona with their bird dogs. Don writes<br />

about the outdoors for numerous publications. He is a BHA member.<br />

Legislature vs. Supreme Court:<br />

Utah’s Complicated Battle Over Streambeds and Fishing Access<br />

BY KRIS OLSON<br />

IN 2008, FOR THE THIRD TIME, the Utah Supreme Court<br />

ruled in favor of the public’s rights <strong>to</strong> use the rivers and streams of<br />

Utah, so long as they participate in legal activities. The ruling in<br />

Conatser v. Johnson set off a fires<strong>to</strong>rm of rhe<strong>to</strong>ric and sky-is-falling<br />

bravado <strong>by</strong> property rights groups and developers of exclusive<br />

“trout ranches.” Their claim: With this decision, the very foundation<br />

of our state constitution had been eroded.<br />

In fact, just the opposite was true. The Conatser court, like the<br />

courts before them, <strong>to</strong>ok their lead directly from Article XVII of<br />

the Utah Constitution:<br />

All existing rights <strong>to</strong> the use of any of the waters in this State<br />

for any useful or beneficial purpose, are here<strong>by</strong> recognized<br />

and confirmed.<br />

Among those rights, the court observed, is the right <strong>to</strong> utilize<br />

the waters of the state (and their respective streambeds), for any<br />

lawful activity. This idea is not new and was common knowledge<br />

as early as 1920, when Utah Fish and Game Commissioner RH<br />

Siddoway reminded anglers and property owners alike that:<br />

Fishermen have rights also. The waters of the state belong<br />

<strong>to</strong> the state. The fish contained therein are also the property<br />

of the state. Fisherman may wade any of the streams of the<br />

state. If ordered off of the property of any owner thereof, they<br />

cannot be ordered out of the streams.<br />

To address this conflict, Rep. Lorie Fowlke held a series of interim<br />

meetings in 2009 with any stakeholder on the stream access<br />

issue willing <strong>to</strong> consider the public’s rights. Her bill was an expertly<br />

crafted <strong>to</strong>uchs<strong>to</strong>ne of compromise and held the promise of<br />

settling Utah’s stream access issue for generations <strong>to</strong> come.<br />

That was, until a competing bill was introduced in the final<br />

days of the 2010 session. Drafted behind closed doors with the<br />

explicit purpose of serving private interests, fueled <strong>by</strong> dark lob<strong>by</strong>ing<br />

money, the so-called “Public Waters Access Act” was shoved<br />

through the legislature on pre-greased rails. With Gov. Gary Herbert’s<br />

enthusiastic signature, the exclusive rights <strong>to</strong> use over 2,700<br />

miles of rivers and streams in Utah (about 43 percent of Utah’s<br />

fishable waters) were gifted <strong>to</strong> private interests. The common angler<br />

became a criminal if he or she <strong>to</strong>uched privately owned beds<br />

without written permission <strong>to</strong> do so.<br />

The Utah Stream Access Coalition was founded a few short<br />

months later. Within 10 months, the coalition had filed two<br />

separate lawsuits on two sets of legal grounds. The first lawsuit<br />

Threatening signs are commonplace in Utah, including<br />

this one on the Governor’s in-law’s property on the<br />

Lower Provo River. Corey Kruitbosch pho<strong>to</strong>.<br />

challenged the new law in its entirety – alleging that it served<br />

no public interest and violated several articles of the Utah Constitution.<br />

It named both the State of Utah and Vic<strong>to</strong>ry Ranch, a<br />

private development on the Upper Provo River that aggressively<br />

lobbied for the act’s passage. The second lawsuit sought <strong>to</strong> prove<br />

that the Weber River was navigable based on its statehood-era<br />

use for transporting railroad ties <strong>to</strong> railroads and prop timbers <strong>to</strong><br />

mines. If declared navigable, federal law holds that the Weber’s<br />

beds and banks were sovereign lands open <strong>to</strong> public use and the<br />

trespassing provisions of the 2010 act were moot.<br />

While the lawsuits worked through the courts, the coalition<br />

attempted <strong>to</strong> bring compromise legislation year after year. USAC<br />

sought <strong>to</strong> find an amicable solution that would stand the test of<br />

time, yet no parties were interested in coming <strong>to</strong> the table. The<br />

reasonable, sensible compromise being proposed was met with<br />

more of the same rhe<strong>to</strong>ric, sky-is-falling claims, misinformation<br />

and revisionist his<strong>to</strong>ry.<br />

Last year, both of these cases at the district court level finally<br />

came <strong>to</strong> an end, and USAC prevailed on virtually all counts.<br />

In one case, a one-mile stretch of the Weber River was declared<br />

navigable, and in the other, the “Public Waters Access Act” was<br />

declared unconstitutional. Anglers and boaters rejoiced in knowing<br />

that their rights were upheld though USAC’s grassroots efforts<br />

and the remarkable work of their pro bono counsel.<br />

A mere 113 days later, one judge from the Utah Supreme Court<br />

placed a stay on the lower court’s decision and effectively re-closed<br />

2,700 miles of river and streams pending the High Court’s review<br />

of the lower court’s ruling during the appeal process (these two<br />

appealed cases present the high court a fourth and fifth opportunity<br />

<strong>to</strong> rule on the public’s rights <strong>to</strong> use the public waters of<br />

Utah). Once the Utah Supreme Court rules on both cases, most<br />

likely in 2017, it’s up <strong>to</strong> the legislature <strong>to</strong> get it right and balance<br />

private property protections with public use of the waters.<br />

The Utah Stream Access Coalition will continue <strong>to</strong> be vigilant<br />

and fight for the public’s rights. The forces that would eliminate<br />

all public access <strong>to</strong> rivers and streams in Utah, Montana or New<br />

Mexico are not confined <strong>to</strong> these three states. They are a cancer<br />

that plagues all of us in the West. We must do all we can <strong>to</strong> snuff<br />

out these efforts <strong>to</strong> privatize public resources. That is exactly what<br />

USAC has been doing for the past six years.<br />

Kris is the president of USAC, an avid angler, and a born-andraised<br />

Idaho boy. When not on the river, he’s working on his M.D./<br />

Ph.D. at the University of Utah.


Several Forest Service-owned boat launch sites<br />

provide good access <strong>to</strong> the Jackson River tailwater,<br />

but the river doesn’t see much fishing pressure<br />

because many anglers worry about accusations<br />

of trespassing from landowners, even while wade<br />

fishing. Sam Dean pho<strong>to</strong>.<br />

Fishing Fit for a King:<br />

On Virginia’s Jackson River, Pre-Revolution Land Grants Create Confusion, Frustration<br />

BY MARK TAYLOR<br />

THE FARTHER WE WENT, THE MORE SURREAL it seemed.<br />

We were in my canoe, paddling down a good-sized trout stream<br />

on a pleasant afternoon in May. Wild rainbows and browns<br />

chomped the nymphs we drifted through fishy-looking riffles<br />

and runs. Cardinals chirped pleasantly from <strong>to</strong>wering streamside<br />

sycamores. A smattering of mayflies, s<strong>to</strong>neflies and caddis flitted<br />

about, prompting the occasional rise.<br />

And yet we had the river <strong>to</strong> ourselves. There were no wading anglers.<br />

No cars with raft or drift boat trailers at public boat launch<br />

areas. For eight scenic, relatively wild river miles, not one other<br />

fishermen. Strange, but not surprising.<br />

This is the Jackson River, a western Virginia tailwater where<br />

centuries-old land grants from the Kings George II and III of<br />

England have created a patchwork of definitive public access that<br />

confuses and frustrates anglers.<br />

Fish in the “right” water and <strong>you</strong> can experience some of Virginia’s<br />

best wild trout action. Fish in the “wrong” water and <strong>you</strong><br />

could get yelled at or, worse, sued for trespassing. Rather than<br />

trying <strong>to</strong> navigate the confusing environment, few anglers bother<br />

with the river.<br />

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, its<br />

staffers plenty busy as it is, prioritizes management on other waters.<br />

And so a river that has potential <strong>to</strong> be a destination fishery is<br />

under-utilized, fished consistently <strong>by</strong> some riverside landowners<br />

but <strong>by</strong> few others.<br />

The Army Corps of Engineers built Gathright Dam in the early<br />

1980s, providing flood control and a consistent source of cold<br />

water for industrial operations of a mill 19 miles downstream in<br />

Coving<strong>to</strong>n. Controversy has dogged the project from the beginning,<br />

with widespread opposition <strong>to</strong> the dam even before it was<br />

built. But built it was, and once cold water started flowing, the<br />

VDGIF began s<strong>to</strong>cking trout. The U.S. Forest Service purchased<br />

several riverside lots for public access points.<br />

Fishing was excellent, but some vocal anglers thought it would<br />

30 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

be even better if bait fishing was disallowed. When the VDGIF<br />

narrowly approved an artificial lures-only proposal, it angered<br />

many locals.<br />

The agency quickly backed off the regulations, but the damage<br />

was not as easy <strong>to</strong> reverse. “No Trespassing” signs began flourishing<br />

along the riverbanks.<br />

In 1995, access ended up in court when riverside landowners<br />

sued a fishing guide, claiming that grants from King George II in<br />

1750 and King George III in 1769 granted them ownership of the<br />

river bot<strong>to</strong>m as well as the fish.<br />

The Virginia Supreme Court sided with the landowners a year<br />

later. Access maps created <strong>by</strong> the VDGIF subsequently highlighted<br />

the applicable section as an area “subject <strong>to</strong> potential asserted<br />

private ownership of bot<strong>to</strong>mland and/or fishing rights.” But<br />

that still left roughly 16 miles of theoretically public water. The<br />

VDGIF, which had suspended s<strong>to</strong>cking, wanted dearly <strong>to</strong> actively<br />

manage the river as a public fishery.<br />

So in 1999 agency officials surveyed riverside landowners, hoping<br />

that a majority would agree <strong>to</strong> not dispute public fishing and<br />

wading access – in the river, not from the banks. But the effort fell<br />

far short of the sought-after majority so the agency, for all intents<br />

and purposes, threw up its hands and walked away.<br />

The Jackson did fine on its own. Wild rainbows and browns<br />

proliferated. Anglers fishing in the publicly owned water immediately<br />

below the dam enjoyed great action. So did those who fished<br />

farther downstream, either adjacent <strong>to</strong> public access points or daring<br />

<strong>to</strong> wade adjacent <strong>to</strong> private land that, while it might have been<br />

posted, hadn’t been legally established as kings grant water.<br />

There was still tension. For a time, a local activist placed intimidating<br />

windshield flyers on vehicles parked at public access<br />

points. I got one myself.<br />

A landowner once confronted my friend Neil Tatum.<br />

“He cussed me out,” Neil said. “My fishing buddies said they’d<br />

never go back.”<br />

But things got better. A few friends and I fished the river fairly<br />

regularly and were never hassled. In fact, plenty of folks would<br />

wave as we floated past. The river got busier, but mostly with<br />

STREAM ACCESS<br />

recreational kayakers, not anglers.<br />

Then came another lawsuit. A riverside landowner had launched<br />

a high-end development, promising “over four miles” of exclusive<br />

fishing access. The developer had long claimed kings grant rights,<br />

but hadn’t established them in court.<br />

In 2010, citing the VDGIF’s access map, a wading angler, who<br />

had accessed the section <strong>by</strong> kayak, refused <strong>to</strong> budge when confronted.<br />

The resident and developer teamed up <strong>to</strong> sue the fisherman.<br />

And they won.<br />

On maps at access points that section has been added <strong>to</strong> the<br />

highlighted section of “potential” kings grant waters. But it’s not<br />

four miles long. It’s a shorter stretch that runs through the developer’s<br />

property but doesn’t include water <strong>to</strong> which the developer<br />

had supposedly secured exclusive access leases.<br />

And now there’s another lawsuit. This time it’s the above-mentioned<br />

riverside landowner suing the developer for allegedly not<br />

delivering on the promised amount of exclusive water.<br />

Ironically, as the latest drama plays out, some streamside property<br />

owners have contacted the VDGIF <strong>to</strong> express concerns about<br />

a perceived decline in the fishery, as well as in the river’s insect life.<br />

State Fisheries Biologist Steve Reeser electroshocked parts of<br />

the Jackson in 2015 and found plenty of trout. But how numbers<br />

compare <strong>to</strong> before is unknown, because the DGIF has not<br />

been actively moni<strong>to</strong>ring the fishery and has little his<strong>to</strong>rical data<br />

<strong>to</strong> provide context.<br />

If those property owners are hoping for allies in their quest for<br />

answers on the health of the Jackson, they probably won’t find<br />

many among the general public. For while Virginia anglers tend<br />

<strong>to</strong> be passionately protective of their favorite fisheries, they might<br />

not be so eager <strong>to</strong> fight for a river where they have not felt welcome<br />

and are not stakeholders.<br />

That’s unfortunate because the Jackson has potential <strong>to</strong> be a<br />

valuable asset <strong>to</strong> the local community, and many in the community<br />

understand that. But, as long as there are a few who continue<br />

<strong>to</strong> battle for exclusivity, confusion and frustration will endure and<br />

the river will remain a largely untapped potential treasure.<br />

Mark lives in Roanoke, Virginia, about an hour south of the Jackson<br />

River tailwater. He covered the Jackson River access issue regularly<br />

while working as the outdoors reporter at The Roanoke Times from<br />

1998 <strong>to</strong> 2014. He now works as the eastern communications direc<strong>to</strong>r<br />

for Trout Unlimited, which recently launched the Upper James River<br />

Home Rivers initiative <strong>to</strong> focus on res<strong>to</strong>ration needs in the watershed’s<br />

headwaters, including the upper reaches of the Jackson.<br />

The Low Water Mark:<br />

Missouri Legisla<strong>to</strong>r Seeks <strong>to</strong> Redefine Riverside Ownership, Strip Anglers’ Access<br />

BY BRANDON BUTLER<br />

LITTLE MATTERS MORE TO MISSOURIANS than our rivers.<br />

The Mississippi and Missouri rivers were the corners<strong>to</strong>nes of<br />

our state’s settlement and early economy. Today, the float streams<br />

coursing through the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri are<br />

drawing the annual attention of hundreds of thousands of paddlers<br />

and anglers. Messing with access <strong>to</strong> rivers and waterways is<br />

a bad idea in the Show Me State, but that hasn’t s<strong>to</strong>pped state<br />

legisla<strong>to</strong>rs from doing so.<br />

Missouri State Rep. Robert Ross filed House Bill 955 in 2015.<br />

According <strong>to</strong> Ross, the bill was written <strong>to</strong> fight the Environmental<br />

Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act. However, H.B. 955 specified<br />

that streamside landowners have title <strong>to</strong> the low water mark<br />

of a navigable stream, and <strong>to</strong> the thread (middle of main channel<br />

at low flow) of a non-navigable watercourse. The bill also aimed <strong>to</strong><br />

change ownership of non-navigable watercourse beds from public<br />

ownership <strong>to</strong> the riparian owner of the land, and <strong>to</strong> change the<br />

way a stream is deemed navigable. Today, if <strong>you</strong> can float it, the<br />

waterway is navigable. If passed, this bill would have required a<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 31<br />

Kris Milgate pho<strong>to</strong>


Missouri court <strong>to</strong> deem a waterway navigable.<br />

H.B. 955 sent Missourians in<strong>to</strong> a rage. Thousands of citizens<br />

angrily contacted their elected officials <strong>to</strong> demand this legislation<br />

die. Hundreds made trips <strong>to</strong> the state capi<strong>to</strong>l and attended public<br />

hearings <strong>to</strong> protect the recreational easement for floaters. Opponents<br />

of the bill argued it would reduce the quality of life for those<br />

living around the waterways. Eventually, after passing out of committee<br />

with amendments, the bill died. But the fight was not over.<br />

In 2016, Rep. Ross filed House Bill 2405, claiming this bill<br />

would have no effect on floaters. Yet, the same language was included:<br />

“Riparian owner has title in fee <strong>to</strong> the low water mark of<br />

a navigable watercourse of the state or a public navigable watercourse<br />

and <strong>to</strong> the thread of a non-navigable watercourse.”<br />

Again, citizens rallied for our rights <strong>to</strong> access the gravel bars and<br />

banks <strong>to</strong> the high water mark of Missouri waterways. And again,<br />

we killed the legislation. Such an incredible assault on the very<br />

nature of outdoor enjoyment in our state doesn’t go unnoticed<br />

<strong>by</strong> sensible legisla<strong>to</strong>rs who must make up for those pushing an<br />

anti-government, private-property rights agenda that undermines<br />

the Public Trust Doctrine and greater good of the general citizenry.<br />

Instead of embracing what we have here in Missouri and seeking<br />

ways <strong>to</strong> develop a stronger outdoor <strong>to</strong>urism economy around<br />

these natural gems, we have politicians in our state committed <strong>to</strong><br />

hurting the masses <strong>to</strong> benefit the few. It’s shameful.<br />

The rivers of Missouri’s Ozarks are some of the most pristine<br />

and precious water resources <strong>to</strong> be found anywhere in America.<br />

Crystal clear, spring-fed waters teem with trout, smallmouth bass<br />

and goggle-eye. Wild turkeys and white-tailed deer abound along<br />

their banks. Bald eagles, black bears, reintroduced elk, feral horses<br />

and river otters all make frequent appearances. Hundreds of thousands<br />

of paddlers pull over <strong>to</strong> fish, recreate and camp on gravel<br />

bars up and down our rivers, from bridges <strong>to</strong> the backcountry.<br />

The experience of the Ozarks would be forever changed if the<br />

public could no longer access streambeds up <strong>to</strong> the high water<br />

mark.<br />

For now, attempts <strong>to</strong> strip Missourians of these rights have been<br />

thwarted, but we’re not holding our breath they don’t resurface<br />

again in the near future. State legisla<strong>to</strong>rs will likely file more outlandish<br />

bills in 2017. The conservation community will be there<br />

<strong>to</strong> block them again.<br />

Why all Missouri legisla<strong>to</strong>rs don’t see the economic and recreational<br />

benefits of our Ozark rivers is beyond comprehension<br />

for conservation-minded Missourians. In a depressed economic<br />

region, which most of the Ozarks are, one would think outdoor<br />

recreation and <strong>to</strong>urism would signal financial relief and a sense<br />

of public pride. Instead, we face the entrenched mentality that<br />

all government is bad, even when public property is fueling the<br />

economy and protecting the natural resources that make our state<br />

so special.<br />

Brandon is the executive direc<strong>to</strong>r of the Conservation Federation<br />

of Missouri. His syndicated outdoor column, Driftwood Outdoors,<br />

appears in 25 newspapers each week.<br />

High and Dry:<br />

New Mexican Anglers Lose Walk-and-Wade Access Through Private Lands<br />

BY TODD LEAHY<br />

UNTIL 2015, NEW MEXICAN sportsmen and women could<br />

freely walk their favorite trout streams without fear of prosecution,<br />

as long as they remained in the stream. But then the legislature<br />

amended the Stream Access Law of 1978 <strong>to</strong> deny public<br />

access wherever a stream crosses private property. Sen. Richard<br />

Martinez of Espanola, the bill’s author, claimed that he received<br />

complaints from property owners about trespassing anglers leaving<br />

trash and camping illegally. These complaints prompted the<br />

bill that flew in the face of a 2014 at<strong>to</strong>rney general’s opinion stating<br />

that streams were public domain. Ranchers and fishing lodge<br />

owners, angered <strong>by</strong> the at<strong>to</strong>rney general’s opinion, <strong>to</strong>ok <strong>to</strong> the<br />

legislature, where Martinez pushed his bill through at breakneck<br />

speed. Section C of the ammended law reads:<br />

No person engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping,<br />

hiking, sightseeing, the operation of watercraft or any other<br />

recreational use shall walk or wade on<strong>to</strong> private property<br />

through non-navigable public water or access water via private<br />

property unless the private property owner or lessee or<br />

person in control of private lands has expressly consented in<br />

writing.<br />

It is settled case law that the state controls the use of water and<br />

STREAM ACCESS<br />

does not part with ownership; it only allows an immediate use of<br />

water (Jicarilla Apache Tribe v. United States, 1981). Waters don’t<br />

need <strong>to</strong> be appropriated for public use since they are already reserved<br />

for it, subject <strong>to</strong> being specifically appropriated for private<br />

beneficial use. So it appears that a sportsman may constitutionally<br />

fish from public waters so long as he or she does not trespass on<br />

private land, and the owner of the underlying land can’t complain<br />

about fishing from boats on the public waters above.<br />

It also appears that the amended law may be in violation of the<br />

New Mexico State Constitution, which reads:<br />

The unappropriated water of every natural stream, perennial<br />

or <strong>to</strong>rrential, within the state of New Mexico, is here<strong>by</strong><br />

declared <strong>to</strong> belong <strong>to</strong> the public and <strong>to</strong> be subject <strong>to</strong> appropriation<br />

for beneficial use, in accordance with the laws of<br />

the state. Priority of appropriation shall give the better right.<br />

New Mexico sportsmen and women, as well as the rafting and<br />

boating community, have raised serious questions regarding the<br />

scope and purpose of the stream access law. However, these questions<br />

remain unanswered. The New Mexico Wildlife Federation,<br />

along with other concerned interests, will continue <strong>to</strong> challenge<br />

the law in every way possible. The matter is so murky now and<br />

landowners have taken drastic measures, such as placing rebar in<br />

sections of the Pecos River, <strong>to</strong> s<strong>to</strong>p any would-be “trespasser.”<br />

Bryan Huskey pho<strong>to</strong><br />

32 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL WINTER 2016<br />

WINTER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 33


STREAM ACCESS<br />

Crossing Fencelines:<br />

Why Public Land Sportsmen Need <strong>to</strong> Reframe Our Narratives About Private Landowners<br />

We hope that we can reach a settled statement on the breadth<br />

and depth of this law before some unwitting fisherman finds himself<br />

seriously injured or worse. We all can agree that private property<br />

rights are the corners<strong>to</strong>ne of this nation, but when they fly in<br />

the face of settled law, a state constitution and over 500 years of<br />

practice, something must be done.<br />

If the access question can be clarified, New Mexico would join<br />

a handful of states where the public has broad access <strong>to</strong> stream<br />

beds, including Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Texas. But sportsmen<br />

involved in Montana’s access fight warn that New Mexicans<br />

may have a long row ahead of them. Montana’s stream access fight<br />

started in 1977 and continues <strong>to</strong> this day, said John Gibson, a<br />

Billings, Montana, sportsman and president of the Public Land<br />

and Water Access Association.<br />

Even if New Mexicans have years of legal and legislative battles<br />

ahead <strong>to</strong> establish permanent access <strong>to</strong> our public streams, it’s<br />

worth the effort, said Gibson.<br />

“Be prepared for a long, hard fight, but think of what <strong>you</strong>’ll<br />

accomplish,” he said. “Here in Montana, we feel very proud that<br />

we have been part of something that will benefit generations <strong>to</strong><br />

come, and <strong>you</strong> can do that, <strong>to</strong>o, <strong>by</strong> just asserting <strong>you</strong>r rights. It<br />

isn’t everybody that gets that chance. We usually sit back and do<br />

nothing. But get in the arena. To hell with ’em. Be a Theodore<br />

Roosevelt of <strong>you</strong>r time.”<br />

New Mexico Wildlife Federation President John Crenshaw said<br />

the organization is aware of the difficulties that lie ahead, but that<br />

there is no choice at this point but follow the opinion of the state’s<br />

<strong>to</strong>p legal authority, the at<strong>to</strong>rney general’s office.<br />

“The Federation has been fighting <strong>to</strong> protect our public property<br />

rights for a century, and we’re not going <strong>to</strong> quit now,” Crenshaw<br />

said. “Our streams, like our wildlife and public lands, are<br />

held in the public trust so that everyone can responsibly enjoy<br />

them in perpetuity. This is an opportunity for the sportsmen of<br />

our generation <strong>to</strong> make a difference, and in another 100 years the<br />

anglers of New Mexico will be thankful we did.”<br />

Todd is the deputy direc<strong>to</strong>r for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.<br />

He holds a J.D. in urban, land use and environmental law and<br />

Ph.D. in American Indian his<strong>to</strong>ry.<br />

Travis Bradford pho<strong>to</strong><br />

BY MILES NOLTE<br />

ON APRIL 29, 2013, I stuffed myself in<strong>to</strong> a ballroom on the<br />

Montana State University campus <strong>to</strong> observe a satellite hearing<br />

of the state supreme court. Such events are not, generally, well attended,<br />

but I arrived nearly a half hour early and still had <strong>to</strong> worm<br />

my way in<strong>to</strong> the margins. The crowd continued <strong>to</strong> swell until the<br />

lone police officer tasked with wrangling the scene finally gave up<br />

on fire code and allowed the throng of specta<strong>to</strong>rs <strong>to</strong> clog all the<br />

doorways.<br />

Cases involving the Montana stream access law are just about<br />

the only ones <strong>to</strong> draw such crowds. The hearings themselves are<br />

utterly uneventful: Lawyers cite obscure legal precedents while<br />

justices silently preside. The crowd doesn’t experience a satisfying<br />

climax; this isn’t a jury trial or one of the Law and Order spinoffs.<br />

On that day, several hundred of us lay-people struggled <strong>to</strong> convert<br />

concepts like “prescriptive use,” “secondary easement” and “statu<strong>to</strong>ry<br />

provisions” in<strong>to</strong> a narrative that would help us understand<br />

who will be allowed <strong>to</strong> wet their feet in Montana’s moving water<br />

in the coming years.<br />

I attended the hearing in two capacities: First as a journalist<br />

covering a s<strong>to</strong>ry of interest <strong>to</strong> the fishing and hunting community,<br />

and second as an individual who cherishes access <strong>to</strong> public watersheds<br />

in my home state. After the justices filed out of the room, I<br />

rushed <strong>to</strong> the exits <strong>to</strong> conduct interviews. I wanted <strong>to</strong> know why<br />

all these people showed up.<br />

My expectation was an outpouring of solidarity. I assumed most<br />

everyone was there <strong>to</strong> stand up for stream access, and many were.<br />

Lots of fit Bozemanites puffed up in Patagonia down ex<strong>to</strong>lled the<br />

virtues of our state heritage and the need <strong>to</strong> protect our flowing<br />

public resources from wealthy out-of-state individuals like James<br />

Cox Kennedy. What surprised me, however, were the number of<br />

other Montanans, mostly multiple-generation ranchers in clean<br />

Wranglers and Sunday boots, who were there <strong>to</strong> support precisely<br />

the opposite position.<br />

Several of these men and women complained <strong>to</strong> me about the<br />

out-of-staters who were tromping up watershed arteries of their<br />

land with disregard and even disdain for their rights as landowners,<br />

using the stream access law as a shield for disrespectful behavior.<br />

“Used <strong>to</strong> be that people would come <strong>to</strong> the house and ask permission<br />

<strong>to</strong> fish,” a rancher with a heavy s<strong>to</strong>op and deep sun-creases<br />

in his face explained <strong>to</strong> me. “Now they just walk right up from<br />

the road like they own the place, and flip me the bird.”<br />

He <strong>to</strong>ld me he had received two citations for harassing anglers.<br />

“I’m 80 years old! What the hell am I gonna do <strong>to</strong> anybody? I’m<br />

just damn sick and tired of all these people coming out here and<br />

treating my property like a public park.”<br />

The conversations I had outside that sterile ballroom have stuck<br />

with me the past few years. In January of 2014, the Montana<br />

Supreme Court upheld the stream access precedent in that case,<br />

but the win rang hollow for me. How can we, as sportsmen who<br />

rely on public land and water, expect <strong>to</strong> maintain our access if the<br />

broader community of landowners perceives us as threatening and<br />

oppositional?<br />

We have woven ourselves a thick narrative blanket: We assume<br />

<strong>to</strong> represent the will and rights of the majority against a small<br />

minority of greedy landowners, and we have spent years congratulating<br />

ourselves under the comfort of that blanket. We write articles<br />

for publications like this one that glorify our perspective and<br />

demonize those who disagree with us, but I’m afraid that outside<br />

our insulated circles, we are losing ground.<br />

I don’t think we can afford <strong>to</strong> rest on the simple good vs. evil<br />

paradigm we keep proffering. Here in Montana, we can’t assume<br />

that the judicial system will perpetually uphold our interests no<br />

matter how many landowners we irritate or alienate. Wealthy individuals<br />

will continue <strong>to</strong> use their influence <strong>to</strong> try and change<br />

the landscape of our courts, as Charles Schwab and Jim Kennedy<br />

did in 2012. And the judicial war of attrition against stream access<br />

perpetuated <strong>by</strong> these few will not go away, because their funds<br />

are essentially unlimited, while those of the opposition – namely<br />

the Public Land and Water Access Association – are increasingly<br />

stretched.<br />

Private landowners cannot be our enemies. If we create an atmosphere<br />

that pits public sportsmen against landowners, we will<br />

eventually lose our access rights. We all, as individuals, need <strong>to</strong><br />

work <strong>to</strong>ward building relationships with landowners. We need <strong>to</strong><br />

s<strong>to</strong>p making them the bad guys and start trying <strong>to</strong> understand<br />

their concerns and perspectives.<br />

Of course, we need <strong>to</strong> support groups like PLWA who are actively<br />

fighting the battles that protect our lands and waters, but<br />

that’s just not enough. Be a spokesperson for public land sportsmen<br />

every time <strong>you</strong>’re in the field or on the water. Make sure <strong>you</strong><br />

know where <strong>you</strong> are and know <strong>you</strong> have a right <strong>to</strong> be there. Clean<br />

up after <strong>you</strong>rself and others. If <strong>you</strong> run in<strong>to</strong> landowners while<br />

legally accessing rivers that cross their property, be courteous and<br />

respectful.<br />

Consider dropping <strong>by</strong> the ranch house and asking permission<br />

before fishing that creek, even if <strong>you</strong> can hop in at the public<br />

bridge and stay below the high water mark. In my experience, it<br />

doesn’t hurt <strong>to</strong> bring a six-pack or a bottle of whiskey as a peace<br />

offering. Like it or not, we need the support of private landowners.<br />

Miles is the angling edi<strong>to</strong>r and columnist for Gray’s Sporting<br />

<strong>Journal</strong> and co-owner of Swallowtail Fly Fishing in Bozeman,<br />

Montana.<br />

To learn more about Stream Access Now! and support<br />

the crowdfunding campaign, visit streamaccessnow.com<br />

34 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 35


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<strong>you</strong> personally?<br />

Elk are smart animals with a very solid set of survival skills. To<br />

38 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

get in close <strong>to</strong> an elk, <strong>you</strong> have <strong>to</strong> overcome all of their senses.<br />

To be able <strong>to</strong> call an elk in, it requires not only overcoming their<br />

senses, but also being able <strong>to</strong> communicate what needs <strong>to</strong> be said<br />

<strong>to</strong> get them in<strong>to</strong> <strong>you</strong>r setup in a way that convinces them that <strong>you</strong><br />

are another elk. The challenge of effectively communicating with<br />

elk, and the absolute thrill that comes from that interaction, is<br />

unparalleled in my hunting experience.<br />

You practice a pretty aggressive bugling style, when a lot of<br />

people are backing off bugles for cow calls or just keeping quiet,<br />

saying that elk are getting call-wise. Explain <strong>you</strong>r thinking.<br />

I hunt 100 percent on public land, mainly on OTC tags. I<br />

would agree that calling in an elk on these hunts is not as easy as it<br />

was 5, 10 or 20 years ago. But for me, the real thrill of elk hunting<br />

comes in the calling experience, so I’m not ready <strong>to</strong> throw in the<br />

<strong>to</strong>wel on calling. I’ve found that elk respond more on emotion<br />

than through a set language, and when <strong>you</strong> call in an elk, it’s really<br />

a reaction <strong>to</strong> just two emotions – the desire <strong>to</strong> breed or the desire<br />

<strong>to</strong> fight. If <strong>you</strong> can convince a bull elk <strong>to</strong> respond <strong>to</strong> one of those<br />

two emotions, there isn’t <strong>to</strong>o much that should keep him from<br />

coming in <strong>to</strong> <strong>you</strong>r calls.<br />

I like the fight scenario. If I can trip the trigger on a rutting bull<br />

elk and get him <strong>to</strong> completely drop his guard and abandon his<br />

senses, he becomes a very easy target. And <strong>to</strong> start a fight, it usually<br />

takes aggression. So, I tailor my calling around that aggression<br />

and do everything I can <strong>to</strong> start a fight with the bull.<br />

What’s the best way for a beginning elk hunter <strong>to</strong> learn<br />

the various elk sounds and what they mean, if they don’t live<br />

around elk every day?<br />

Again, I don’t put much weight in<strong>to</strong> what an elk is saying <strong>to</strong><br />

me. For my style of elk hunting and calling, I focus more on emotion<br />

than on language. Additionally, I want <strong>to</strong> control the conversation<br />

when I’m calling <strong>to</strong> an elk, so that means I only need <strong>to</strong><br />

communicate what I want <strong>to</strong> say <strong>to</strong> the elk, regardless of what he’s<br />

saying <strong>to</strong> me. I guess I would say I worry more about being able<br />

<strong>to</strong> make the right sounds <strong>to</strong> communicate my intentions <strong>to</strong> the<br />

bull and less about analyzing the actual sounds they are making.<br />

What’s the most important part of the hunting sequence,<br />

once <strong>you</strong>’ve heard a bull bugling?<br />

For me and my aggressive style of calling, getting close is the<br />

key. Hearing a bull bugle from 500 yards away and setting up isn’t<br />

going <strong>to</strong> be very effective most of the time. But if I can get inside<br />

of 150 yards or so of that same bull and then set up and start<br />

calling, the odds of that bull coming in <strong>to</strong> the setup go up significantly.<br />

A very close second in this sequence is having a two-person<br />

setup, which is having a caller 40-60 yards back behind a shooter.<br />

When <strong>you</strong>’ve got a bull coming in and <strong>you</strong> want <strong>to</strong> set up for<br />

a shot, what kind of cover do <strong>you</strong> look for? What other fac<strong>to</strong>rs<br />

do <strong>you</strong> take in<strong>to</strong> account?<br />

Setups are critical when it comes <strong>to</strong> being able <strong>to</strong> successfully<br />

call in an elk. If <strong>you</strong> think about all the excuses for why an elk<br />

hunt falls apart, most of those excuses happen in the setup. To<br />

maximize my chances for success, I look for a setup that will make<br />

the bull feel comfortable <strong>to</strong> come in. If he starts feeling like his<br />

senses are being minimized, he’s going <strong>to</strong> get nervous and most<br />

likely not come in.<br />

It’s important <strong>to</strong> make sure the bull can’t see where the calls<br />

are coming from. If he is able <strong>to</strong> see the location and not see an<br />

elk, he’s probably not coming any closer. It’s also critical <strong>to</strong> make<br />

sure that as a shooter, <strong>you</strong> are set up on the downwind side of the<br />

path the bull is likely going <strong>to</strong> come in on. The placement of the<br />

caller in relation <strong>to</strong> the shooter is vital <strong>to</strong> make sure the elk feels<br />

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like his senses are going <strong>to</strong> protect him, without alerting him <strong>to</strong><br />

the presence of danger.<br />

As the shooter, I like <strong>to</strong> set up in front of obstacles like trees<br />

and brush <strong>to</strong> provide for open shooting lanes, rather than hiding<br />

behind them. Doing this makes it critical <strong>to</strong> minimize my movements,<br />

and time the drawing of my bow with when the elk’s eyes<br />

are obstructed <strong>by</strong> a tree.<br />

If I can set up in a way that overcomes an elk’s senses of sight,<br />

sound and smell, and still make the bull feel like he is protected,<br />

my chances of getting a shot go up significantly.<br />

What role do additional sound effects – breaking branches,<br />

raking trees, etc. – have in <strong>you</strong>r calling sequence?<br />

Raking a tree is probably the most effective supplement I’ve<br />

found <strong>to</strong> calling. It is how the bulls display dominance, so if I rake<br />

a tree, I’m telling the other bull that I am the dominant bull. Since<br />

I’ve already challenged him with my calls, this added display of<br />

dominance is sometimes more than a bull is able <strong>to</strong> <strong>to</strong>lerate. Additionally,<br />

the act of raking a tree often influences a bull <strong>to</strong> also start<br />

raking a tree <strong>to</strong> display his dominance, and that creates a perfect<br />

opportunity <strong>to</strong> slip in closer. With their head down raking, they<br />

are making noise and can’t see or hear. As long as the wind is good,<br />

<strong>you</strong> can often slip in very close <strong>to</strong> a raking bull.<br />

Lots of hunts are blown when elk wind hunters. Do <strong>you</strong><br />

have any tips for beating an elk’s nose?<br />

You will never beat an elk’s nose. If the wind is moving in his<br />

general direction, <strong>you</strong> are walking on thin ice. I feel that cover<br />

scents and scent eliminating products are nowhere near as effective<br />

as paying attention <strong>to</strong> the wind. There is a whole volume that<br />

could be written about thermals in elk country, but in a nutshell,<br />

thermals move up during the day and down from late evening <strong>to</strong><br />

early morning. Rarely do thermals move side-hill. If they switch,<br />

it is usually a 180-degree change in direction. So, rather than getting<br />

directly downwind from the elk, I prefer <strong>to</strong> get on the same<br />

level. That way, if the wind does switch suddenly (from up <strong>to</strong><br />

down, or down <strong>to</strong> up), it will usually not take my scent right <strong>to</strong><br />

the elk as it would if I was directly above or below him. Additionally,<br />

I am continually using a small bottle of “wind checker” <strong>to</strong><br />

moni<strong>to</strong>r the wind throughout each day, and then adjusting my<br />

hunt, approach and setup accordingly.<br />

What role does herd structure (ratio of cows <strong>to</strong> bulls, number<br />

of mature bulls, etc.) have in hunting the rut?<br />

The intensity of the rut depends on multiple fac<strong>to</strong>rs, but herd<br />

dynamics can have a major influence on it. In an area where there<br />

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SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 39


are several cows and few bulls, it can be <strong>to</strong>ugh <strong>to</strong> call a herd bull<br />

away from his herd. On the flip side, if <strong>you</strong> get in an area where<br />

there are several bulls fighting for just a handful of cows, the calling<br />

action can be incredible. An overall high population of elk<br />

with a high bull-<strong>to</strong>-cow ratio is what we all dream about. However,<br />

those situations are pretty few and far between, especially<br />

on OTC, public land elk hunts. Being able <strong>to</strong> recognize how the<br />

demographics of the herd can affect the calling and intensity of<br />

the rut can be very helpful in determining how <strong>to</strong> select <strong>you</strong>r<br />

calling sequences. If there is a relatively <strong>you</strong>ng herd bull with 60<br />

cows and he has no other competition, he’s going <strong>to</strong> be a <strong>to</strong>ugh<br />

bull <strong>to</strong> call in. An aggressive fighting sequence might not be the<br />

best option for calling. It might be better <strong>to</strong> appeal instead <strong>to</strong> his<br />

desire <strong>to</strong> breed.<br />

How much hunting do <strong>you</strong> do on national forests and other<br />

public lands? What role <strong>to</strong> those public lands play for elk<br />

hunting, <strong>to</strong>day and <strong>to</strong>morrow?<br />

I grew up surrounded <strong>by</strong> miles and miles of public land. Public<br />

land was the only option I had for hunting, and it is where I<br />

learned <strong>to</strong> hunt and where I hunt still <strong>to</strong>day. Being able <strong>to</strong> access<br />

public land is a key component <strong>to</strong> elk hunting, and without it,<br />

opportunities will undoubtedly dwindle and go away. Additionally,<br />

as more land becomes privatized, we will see an increase in<br />

the amount of money it will take <strong>to</strong> be able <strong>to</strong> access those areas<br />

and hunt.<br />

The tradition of elk hunting has always been more about opportunity<br />

for me and not about paying for access or getting caught up<br />

in the size of antlers. My family eats elk meat nearly every night of<br />

the year, so I don’t ever want <strong>to</strong> think about not having opportunity<br />

<strong>to</strong> hunt elk. I have three <strong>you</strong>ng children who are developing<br />

that same love of the outdoors and passion for elk hunting, so<br />

for me, securing access <strong>to</strong> our public lands has never been more<br />

important for securing future elk hunting opportunities.<br />

Tell us about Elk101.com. What’s <strong>you</strong>r goal there?<br />

I created Elk101.com in 2008 as a way <strong>to</strong> share my love for and<br />

experiences in elk hunting with others. The platform has always<br />

been centered around education and sharing my experiences in<br />

a way that will hopefully help other elk hunters become more<br />

successful. I’ve spent the past two years organizing those experiences<br />

in<strong>to</strong> a comprehensive online elk hunting course that covers<br />

every single aspect of elk hunting. I launched the University of<br />

Elk Hunting Online Course in June of this year.<br />

For someone who has never hunted elk before, they will find<br />

everything they need <strong>to</strong> plan and execute a successful elk hunt<br />

in this online course. Additionally, someone who has hunted elk<br />

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aimed at increasing their level of success, regardless of where they<br />

currently are. The course includes over 120,000 words of written<br />

text, 60 video components, and hundreds of images and diagrams,<br />

all aimed at increasing success.<br />

Some of my favorite <strong>to</strong>pics within the course include detailed<br />

instruction on scouting for elk using Google Earth and other digital<br />

resources, how <strong>to</strong> select and learn <strong>to</strong> master diaphragm elk<br />

calls, setting up on elk – including aerial footage of setups and<br />

how <strong>to</strong> visualize and maximize setups <strong>to</strong> get elk in every time. I<br />

also share more calling tactics (with video examples) than <strong>you</strong> can<br />

use in a full season, full elk ana<strong>to</strong>my diagrams <strong>to</strong> aid in shot placement<br />

(including the controversial frontal shots), following blood<br />

trails, and details for field care and packing elk – like average<br />

weights of quarters, full video instruction of the gutless method<br />

and how <strong>to</strong> debone elk quarters, how <strong>to</strong> cape an elk for taxidermy,<br />

and much more. There isn’t anything about elk hunting that I<br />

have learned that isn’t included in this course, and I’m excited <strong>to</strong><br />

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SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 43


BOOTS ON THE GROUND<br />

REPORTING<br />

OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE<br />

ABUSE<br />

BY ERIC CRAWFORD<br />

AS RESPONSIBLE USERS OF PUBLIC<br />

lands, we hope our ethic will be reciprocated<br />

<strong>by</strong> fellow users. This usually is the case.<br />

But many of us have experienced occasions<br />

when inconsiderate and irresponsible use<br />

of off highway vehicles have ruined a hunt.<br />

While increasingly regulated, OHVs have<br />

great power <strong>to</strong> scare animals and destroy<br />

the solace of the hunting experience.<br />

To encourage sportsmen and public<br />

lands users <strong>to</strong> continue the longstanding<br />

tradition of policing our own ranks, BHA<br />

offers up <strong>to</strong> $500 in rewards for reports or<br />

information leading <strong>to</strong> a conviction of illegal<br />

mo<strong>to</strong>rized users. From its inception,<br />

the Idaho Chapter of BHA wholeheartedly<br />

adopted this ethos and has expanded<br />

upon it. The chapter worked with Idaho<br />

Department of Fish & Game at the Craig<br />

Mountain Wildlife Management Area <strong>to</strong><br />

develop signage about use restrictions and<br />

how <strong>to</strong> report a violation. The program has<br />

expanded <strong>to</strong> the Payette and Panhandle<br />

National Forests. In 2013, Idaho Chapter<br />

Secretary Jeff Barney started a program<br />

where members leave a BHA bottle opener<br />

and thank-<strong>you</strong> note with mo<strong>to</strong>r vehicles<br />

that are parked legally at trailheads.<br />

In September 2015, Jake Schacher of<br />

Riggins, Idaho, witnessed an OHV violation<br />

during an early morning archery elk<br />

hunt. Jake had drawn a coveted Unit 18<br />

elk tag, one of 75 permits for that area. It’s<br />

one of the more rugged big game units in<br />

Idaho, bordered <strong>by</strong> the Salmon River <strong>to</strong> the<br />

east, the Snake River and Hells Canyon <strong>to</strong><br />

the west, and the Seven Devils Mountains<br />

<strong>to</strong> the south. Most access is from the <strong>to</strong>p<br />

with a number of closed roads fingering off<br />

of the main Forest Service road. Jake and<br />

his partners had decided <strong>to</strong> hunt off the<br />

<strong>to</strong>p that morning, hiking a mile and past a<br />

gate clearly posted with “Closed <strong>to</strong> Mo<strong>to</strong>r<br />

Vehicles” signs. Jake got in<strong>to</strong> a herd of elk<br />

with several bugling bulls. It was all coming<br />

<strong>to</strong>gether when suddenly two OHVs, a<br />

quad and side-<strong>by</strong>-side, came driving down<br />

the closed road, scattering the elk. Jake<br />

never heard another bugle that morning.<br />

Jake and his partners confronted the<br />

riders, questioning what they were doing<br />

on the closed road and chastising them<br />

for ruining their hunt. It turned out one<br />

had killed a bull the evening prior in the<br />

same drainage. He had talked two men<br />

he didn’t know in<strong>to</strong> helping him haul<br />

out the bull with their OHV. The successful<br />

hunter played the age card, being<br />

60-plus years old, and got sympathy from<br />

the two <strong>you</strong>nger hunters. He even offered<br />

<strong>to</strong> pay any fines if they were caught. To<br />

make matters worse, the older man turned<br />

on Jake and his hunting party, claiming<br />

they had a successful morning hunt and<br />

shouldn’t be giving him a hard time. He<br />

later <strong>to</strong>ld investigating officers, “They were<br />

just pissed that I got the bigger bull.”<br />

Jake’s morning hunt was ruined, but<br />

not all was lost. He and his partners made<br />

the quick hike back <strong>to</strong> the gate, and as the<br />

three came back <strong>to</strong> the parking area Jake<br />

recorded the interaction on video, clearly<br />

documenting the make and model of<br />

OHVs, the user’s faces, the signage on the<br />

gates and the license plates of their trucks.<br />

“In this day and age it’s hard enough<br />

<strong>to</strong> get away from other people, let alone<br />

OHVs,” Jake <strong>to</strong>ld me. He acknowledged<br />

a necessity for responsible OHV use, especially<br />

for disabled hunters, while providing<br />

opportunity for all styles of hunting. But<br />

he was hunting that specific area because<br />

mo<strong>to</strong>r vehicles are not allowed.<br />

Jake <strong>to</strong>ok the extra time <strong>to</strong> document<br />

the violation – the who, what, where and<br />

when. There is no better way <strong>to</strong> gather information<br />

than documenting on video. If<br />

<strong>you</strong> don’t have access <strong>to</strong> a camera, try <strong>to</strong><br />

write down as much as possible. Too many<br />

details are better than not enough.<br />

Jake contacted the local sheriff’s department,<br />

who dispatched a conservation officer.<br />

A few day later the officer contacted<br />

him and they were able <strong>to</strong> get the details of<br />

the violation, even the video off his phone.<br />

Conservation officers with IDFG conducted<br />

follow-up interviews with the suspects,<br />

revealing that the two <strong>you</strong>nger men<br />

were sympathetic <strong>to</strong> the older man and<br />

didn’t want the elk <strong>to</strong> spoil. When asked if<br />

they ever discussed hiking the 1.5 miles in<br />

<strong>to</strong> the bull and packing it out, one of the<br />

suspects said, “It was never discussed.”<br />

Ultimately, the older man was the only<br />

one charged for the violation since he was<br />

most culpable and plead guilty after some<br />

deliberation. He was fined $400. The violation<br />

occurred in Idaho County, but<br />

the hunter and the magistrate judge were<br />

acquainted, causing the judge <strong>to</strong> recuse<br />

himself from the case. Had the man been<br />

sentenced in Idaho County, he would have<br />

received a higher fine and one-year hunting<br />

license revocation.<br />

Jake didn’t let the situation ruin his<br />

hunt, and he killed a nice bull <strong>to</strong>ward the<br />

end of the season. Jake received BHA’s<br />

reward for his commitment <strong>to</strong> protecting<br />

natural resources and responsible OHV<br />

use <strong>by</strong> reporting this violation.<br />

Eric is a board member of the Idaho Chapter<br />

of BHA. He has worked in the conservation<br />

field for 15-plus years.<br />

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INSTRUCTIONAL<br />

IN HOT WATER<br />

How <strong>to</strong> Avoid Injuring Heat-Stressed Fish This <strong>Summer</strong> Season<br />

Learn more about<br />

the science behind<br />

proper fish handling<br />

and the BHA-partnered<br />

#KEEPEMWET Campaign<br />

at keepemwet.org/<br />

principles<br />

BREAK AT<br />

BRUNCH<br />

3<br />

Stream temperatures are much<br />

cooler in the morning than<br />

the afternoon. Conscientious<br />

anglers targeting trout during<br />

periods of marginal water<br />

temperature will do best <strong>to</strong> fish early in the morning. Daily<br />

temperature fluctuations may be as high as 13 degrees on<br />

small streams. Thus, a modest river might experience the<br />

“no release” threshold of 70 degrees at 1 p.m. but register<br />

in the very acceptable low 60s at dawn.<br />

Need a reminder when it’s time <strong>to</strong> quit? Drink <strong>you</strong>r two<br />

cups of java then hit the river with nothing more than a<br />

light snack for breakfast. About the time <strong>you</strong>r s<strong>to</strong>mach is<br />

demanding a brunch break, stream water temperatures are<br />

on the rise and it’s time <strong>to</strong> leave the trout alone.<br />

LOW TIME<br />

FOR PLAY<br />

4<br />

When water temperatures are at stressful<br />

levels for trout, limiting the amount of time<br />

between hook-up and release is critical <strong>to</strong><br />

survival. Fish played quickly recover more<br />

easily and are much more likely <strong>to</strong> fin away<br />

under their own power. Those fought <strong>to</strong> exhaustion may be impossible<br />

<strong>to</strong> revive. Even if they seem healthy on the release they still may<br />

succumb <strong>to</strong> the stress.<br />

“Bring fish in quickly when streams are warm,” coaches Stephens.<br />

“Using the right tackle goes a long way <strong>to</strong>ward ensuring survival.”<br />

By “right tackle” she’s referring primarily <strong>to</strong> line strength. Subduing<br />

a 20-inch brown trout on a 4-weight rod with 7x tippet is an exhilarating<br />

experience for the fly angler. Such a setup is “wrong tackle” for<br />

warm water temperatures. Opting for a 6-weight rod (or heavier) and<br />

3x (or s<strong>to</strong>uter) tippet will allow the angler <strong>to</strong> pressure fish harder for a<br />

short fight. By the same <strong>to</strong>ken, spin anglers should opt for stiffer rods<br />

and line in the 8-pound test and stronger range.<br />

BY JACK BALLARD<br />

KNOW BEFORE<br />

1<br />

YOU GO<br />

Tracy Stephens, a fisheries biologist with<br />

the Wyoming Game & Fish Department<br />

in Jackson, offers a couple of water temperature<br />

benchmarks for trout anglers.<br />

“Catch and release fishing gets much riskier<br />

in terms of a trout’s health above 65 degrees,” she<br />

explains. “Above 70 degrees <strong>you</strong> should for sure avoid<br />

fishing if <strong>you</strong> plan <strong>to</strong> release <strong>you</strong>r catch.”<br />

46 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

PERSONAL PREFERENCES VARY, but a water temperature<br />

of 70 degrees (F) is often cited as the minimum for comfortable<br />

swimming in a lake or stream. That is, if <strong>you</strong>’re a “normal” human.<br />

A friend of mine from London, England, swims year-round<br />

in the Serpentine, a manmade lake in Hyde Park. He limits his<br />

time in the water based on the temperature in the winter, but only<br />

foregoes his draconian fitness routine if it ices over.<br />

For trout, water temperatures become lethal about the time<br />

they get comfortable for the average person. Biologists believe<br />

trout may develop a modicum of temperature <strong>to</strong>lerance over time.<br />

However, 68 degrees is a widely accepted threshold above which<br />

rainbow trout become stressed. The physiological distress increases<br />

quickly as temperature increases <strong>to</strong> 78 degrees, the mark often<br />

given as the lethal limit for rainbows. Brown trout are thought <strong>to</strong><br />

be slightly more heat-<strong>to</strong>lerant than rainbows, brook trout somewhat<br />

less.<br />

Increasingly, streams across the country are experiencing summertime<br />

temperatures unhealthy for trout. Water temperatures<br />

are a non-issue for anglers looking <strong>to</strong> keep their fish, but those<br />

practicing catch-and-release fishing for trout substantially increase<br />

the mortality odds in warm water. Use the following recipe<br />

<strong>to</strong> avoid “cooking” <strong>you</strong>r catch.<br />

Jack frequently pens fishing articles for several magazines. He advocates<br />

for continued and expanded public access <strong>to</strong> Montana’s water<br />

via his membership in BHA and other avenues. See more of his fishing<br />

articles at www.jackballard.com.<br />

REFINE YOUR RELEASE<br />

2<br />

A good release technique goes a long way <strong>to</strong>ward<br />

lowering trout stress. Have landing and release<br />

<strong>to</strong>ols such as a net and pliers on hand <strong>to</strong> lower<br />

handling time. Stephens encourages anglers <strong>to</strong><br />

leave trout in the water during the whole release<br />

process if possible. Point the fish’s nose upstream<br />

and gently support its body until it’s able <strong>to</strong> head<br />

for cover on its own. Fish that can’t seem <strong>to</strong> be revived can be<br />

handled in the old-fashioned way – there’s nothing immoral<br />

about eating trout.<br />

Bryan Huskey pho<strong>to</strong><br />

Sam Lungren pho<strong>to</strong><br />

DO YOUR OWN<br />

MONITORING<br />

5<br />

State restrictions on angling<br />

during <strong>to</strong>rrid spells are a step<br />

forward <strong>to</strong>ward protecting resources.<br />

However, they are best<br />

viewed as emergency measures<br />

with triggers that may be tripped above the most ethical<br />

angling temperatures. In midsummer, do <strong>you</strong>r own water<br />

temperature testing and decision-making instead of relying<br />

on mandated emergency stream closures.<br />

Don’t have a proper water temperature thermometer?<br />

Swipe the meat thermometer from <strong>you</strong>r kitchen (best not<br />

<strong>to</strong> inform the cook if <strong>you</strong>’re not the household chef). Most<br />

meat thermometers have a probe that can be submersed a<br />

few inches in<strong>to</strong> a stream and will register low enough <strong>to</strong><br />

do the trick. I have a digital model that reads down <strong>to</strong> 50<br />

degrees, adequate for stream testing in a pinch.<br />

6<br />

EXPLORE<br />

THE<br />

ALTERNATIVES<br />

I’ve become something of an enthusiast in<br />

recent years for looping flies <strong>to</strong> warmwater<br />

species such as northern pike, smallmouth<br />

bass, bluegills and carp. For many anglers,<br />

even in the West, warmwater alternatives<br />

are found in reasonable proximity <strong>to</strong> trout streams and offer a pleasant<br />

diversion from the salmonid scene. Another possibility is <strong>to</strong> raise<br />

<strong>you</strong>r aim. Headwaters streams frequently run cool when hoot owl<br />

restrictions are in effect in the lowlands. Alpine lakes often boast excellent<br />

angling during the hottest portion of the summer and are<br />

another of my go-<strong>to</strong> alternatives.<br />

In an age of rising global temperatures, an awareness of water temperatures,<br />

their effects on trout and ethical angling techniques are becoming<br />

increasingly important. With a little effort, it’s easy <strong>to</strong> ensure<br />

the only angler-cooked trout are those in a pan, not in the stream.


END OF THE LINE<br />

THE SCHOOL OF CONSERVATION<br />

MY FIRST THOUGHT when my buddy Paul Nicoletti <strong>to</strong>ld me<br />

about Conserve School, where he’d landed a teaching fellowship<br />

for a year, was How the hell did I not hear about this when I was<br />

in high school? Lakes full of northern pike and smallmouth bass;<br />

bikes and canoes <strong>to</strong> access them; classes on ecology, biology, natural<br />

his<strong>to</strong>ry and conservation; immersive outdoor skills education;<br />

a 1,200-acre campus abutting Wisconsin’s Sylvania Wilderness –<br />

it sounded like something my 17-year-old self would have daydreamed<br />

during another mind-numbing health class. When Paul<br />

got approval <strong>to</strong> invite me out <strong>to</strong> guest lecture for a few days in<br />

May, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. And I’ve wanted <strong>to</strong> catch a<br />

muskellunge ever since I can remember.<br />

Conserve School was founded <strong>by</strong> the steel and copper tycoon<br />

James Lowenstine. A lifelong hunter, angler and conservationist,<br />

Jim dreamed of creating a school <strong>to</strong> educate America’s <strong>you</strong>th on<br />

the principles and importance of conservation and ecology. When<br />

he passed away in 1996 with no heir, he left his multi million-dollar<br />

fortune and massive northern Wisconsin estate <strong>to</strong> that end.<br />

The large and beautiful buildings on the Lowenwood Campus<br />

were built in the early 2000s and class commenced in ’02, initially<br />

as a four-year college prepara<strong>to</strong>ry school. A museum of Jim’s<br />

African and North American trophy game and fish graces the<br />

second floor of the academic building. In the fall of 2010, Conserve<br />

transitioned in<strong>to</strong> its present semester program format. The<br />

faculty accepts 60-some high school juniors every semester, on a<br />

full-ride scholarship <strong>to</strong> satisfy academic requirements for biology<br />

(AP Environmental Science), English (Wilderness Voices: American<br />

Literature and the Land), his<strong>to</strong>ry (Exploration in America),<br />

college prep (Stewardship) and P.E. (Outdoor Skills). I think the<br />

“Exploration Week” of portaging canoes, camping and fishing in<br />

a designated wilderness area would have suited me better than<br />

badmin<strong>to</strong>n and jogging in circles around a football field.<br />

I was pleased <strong>to</strong> see that the students knew just how lucky they<br />

were <strong>to</strong> be at Conserve. During my first dinner with them, one<br />

boy couldn’t wait <strong>to</strong> show Paul the pho<strong>to</strong>s of a hefty largemouth<br />

he’d landed on campus that afternoon. A group of girls were discussing<br />

equipment for their upcoming Exploration Week and<br />

getting teary-eyed about the semester ending soon. All the energy<br />

and goofiness and drama and hormones of the high school<br />

years were certainly at play, but I felt as though I was among the<br />

cream of the crop, our nation’s and conservation movement’s future<br />

leaders.<br />

I spoke <strong>to</strong> AP Environmental Studies classes on Thursday and<br />

Friday, the student body divided in<strong>to</strong> two sections. The first day<br />

we talked about my career in outdoor media and opportunities<br />

for conservation advocacy in that field. The second day I launched<br />

in<strong>to</strong> a discussion of the his<strong>to</strong>ry of the conservation movement<br />

and the essential role hunters and anglers have played in its advancement.<br />

We talked about Muir, Roosevelt and Leopold; the<br />

Lacey, Pittman-Robertson, Antiquities and Wilderness acts; the<br />

6.1 million jobs and $646 billion economic engine driven <strong>by</strong> outdoor<br />

recreation. We talked about the vast significance of public<br />

lands in that his<strong>to</strong>ry and industry. To conclude, I <strong>brought</strong> the<br />

classes up <strong>to</strong> speed on the present proposals and legislation seeking<br />

<strong>to</strong> take those lands away from the American public and what<br />

<strong>Backcountry</strong> Hunters & Anglers is doing <strong>to</strong> s<strong>to</strong>p that misguided<br />

effort. I encouraged everyone <strong>to</strong> advocate and lob<strong>by</strong> and speak<br />

out about conservation and keeping public lands in public hands.<br />

This group of precocious, conservationist outdoorsmen and women<br />

was a receptive audience <strong>to</strong> say the least. One <strong>you</strong>ng man asked<br />

me immediately afterward how best <strong>to</strong> contact his sena<strong>to</strong>rs.<br />

48 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

SUMMER 2016 BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL | 49


END OF THE LINE<br />

Continued from page 49...<br />

Then Paul and I did what one does in northern Wisconsin: We<br />

went fishing. The first day after class, we checked out bikes from<br />

the recreation center and rode two-track a few miles out <strong>to</strong> one<br />

of the campus lakes. We chose a small rowboat among the rack<br />

of canoes and other craft and shoved off in<strong>to</strong> the inky depths of<br />

Inkpot Lake.<br />

Barely a few acres, I expected the the lake <strong>to</strong> be rife with hammer<br />

handle-sized pike – though Paul assured me there were some<br />

large fish. I caught a hammer-handle on the third cast. Five casts<br />

later though, I stuck an aggressive 30-inch northern. We worked<br />

our way around the small lake then decided <strong>to</strong> go explore down<br />

the outlet channel. Dragging the boat over a few small beaver<br />

dams, we broke out in<strong>to</strong> marsh commanded <strong>by</strong> two enormous<br />

beaver lodges. Though pikey habitat as I’ve ever seen, we couldn’t<br />

even spook a fish from the quaking bogs. Back <strong>to</strong> main lake.<br />

We rowed down <strong>to</strong> the deeper end of the lake where Paul had<br />

the week before landed a few nice pike. I got another 30-incher<br />

on a long, articulated streamer. Then Paul’s rod doubled over<br />

hard. “Big fish! Big fish!” he yelled. I scrambled for the net but<br />

was surprised <strong>to</strong> see a 20-inch hammer-handle emerge from the<br />

inky water.<br />

“Big fish, huh?” I asked mockingly. Paul shook his head in<br />

disbelief.<br />

“It felt super heavy,” he said, removing the hook. “Wait. Holy<br />

crap, look at this! I did have a bigger fish.”<br />

He held up the small pike. Its back was <strong>to</strong>rn wide open, flesh<br />

exposed and bleeding from a set of teeth marks six inches apart.<br />

A much larger northern had attempted <strong>to</strong> eat the hammer-handle<br />

off the line.<br />

We looked at each other dumbfounded, trying <strong>to</strong> grasp what<br />

kind of pike tries <strong>to</strong> eat a 20-inch pike. Then Paul dove for my<br />

big streamer box, beating me <strong>to</strong> it and grabbing the largest fly,<br />

a 14-inch monstrosity of craft fur and flashabou. I grabbed the<br />

second-largest streamer from the box and we began feverishly<br />

casting <strong>to</strong> the small cove. A few minutes later, a yellow-bronze<br />

flash rolled next <strong>to</strong> the boat. Though only catching a glimpse, I<br />

could see it was nearly as long as the oar dangling in the water.<br />

Big mama pike was wondering where her dinner went.<br />

Two days later, after a long, arctic day chasing muskellunge<br />

50 | BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL SUMMER 2016<br />

in the snow and wind, we returned <strong>to</strong> campus for dinner. Still<br />

fired up from seeing a 50-inch muskie cruising the shallows and<br />

the smaller one our buddy Ken got <strong>to</strong> the side of the boat, Paul<br />

and I invited a few students <strong>to</strong> come out <strong>to</strong> Inkpot with us after<br />

dinner.<br />

There was no question about where on the lake we would be<br />

fishing. I knotted a 10” white and orange streamer on<strong>to</strong> heavy<br />

bite wire. After working every cutbank pocket of the little cove,<br />

I made a long cast in<strong>to</strong> deeper water, near where Paul’s shark attack<br />

happened a few days prior. The intermediate line sunk deep.<br />

I made a long strip, a long pause, another strip and snagged. My<br />

line s<strong>to</strong>pped hard enough and long enough for me <strong>to</strong> lift the rod<br />

tip, shake it, and utter the words, “Shoot, I’m hung up.”<br />

Then the fly line began <strong>to</strong> slice sideways. Shocked, I leaned<br />

in<strong>to</strong> the 9-weight only <strong>to</strong> have it bow <strong>to</strong> the surface. Slack line<br />

flew from the deck. Low frequency headshakes transmitted up<br />

the line in<strong>to</strong> my rod hand. After several minutes of deep dragging,<br />

a northern pike nearly as long as our oars erupted from<br />

black water, teeth bared. Paul stabbed with the big net, and our<br />

monster was captured.<br />

By this point we were whooping so loudly that the students in<br />

their canoes at different points around the lake were converging<br />

on our cove <strong>to</strong> see what was up. The fish was gushing blood and<br />

I hurried <strong>to</strong> pry her jaws open <strong>to</strong> remove the hook. Stuck deep<br />

in the gills, the fly sat next <strong>to</strong> the tail of a smaller pike emerging<br />

from the gullet. Even with the streamer removed, the fish would<br />

not swim away, despite 10 minutes of trying <strong>to</strong> revive her. So, we<br />

decided <strong>to</strong> provide Paul’s students with a dual dissection lesson<br />

and late dinner.<br />

Back at Paul’s apartment, 20-some high schoolers crowded<br />

close as I filleted my 40-inch pike. Slabs gone, I removed a<br />

whole 18-inch pike from her s<strong>to</strong>mach. Not a single “ewww” was<br />

uttered. A couple kids kept examining the heart, intestines and<br />

swim bladder as I prepared the meat for the oven. As soon as it<br />

was done baking, ten pounds of pike flesh disappeared among<br />

the teenagers – appetites hungry for knowledge and food alike.<br />

-Sam Lungren, edi<strong>to</strong>r<br />

sam@backcountryhunters.org<br />

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