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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers set workshops in Spokane

HUNTING/FISHING — The workshops an panel discussions planned for the Saturday, March 7, session of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Rendezvous in Spokane tackle interesting topics.

See Sunday Outdoors stories about the BHA and its programs and goals.

Here are all the details on the Saturday lineup taking place at the Red Lion at the Park:


9 a.m.

The Wilds of Washington: Lynx, Caribou, Wolverine and Grizzly, Oh My!

Ballroom D

Northeast Washington is home to a wide variety of interesting and charismatic wildlife species. Hear about research projects currently underway and learn what cooperating agencies, tribes and conservation groups are doing to conserve our native woodland caribou, wolverines, lynx, fishers and grizzly bears – a perfect introduction to our Rendezvous host community’s native landscape.

Speaker: Bart George grew up on a farm in Iowa and moved west as soon as he was out of school and employable as a wildlife biologist. Since then, he has been working on species recovery and research with the Kalispel Tribe in northeast Washington. When Bart’s not working in the woods he’s recreating in them, either following his hounds, paddling a river or lake, or chasing elk with a bow.

Backcountry Videography: Capturing the Hunting Experience 

Ballroom A

Filmmaker Clay Hayes will take you through the basics of capturing great video on your next backcountry adventure and turning it into something worth watching. Topics will include gear, composition, lighting, challenges of backcountry filming and more.

Speaker: Clay Hayes is a professional wildlife biologist and filmmaker. He’s the producer of the “wildly” popular YouTube channel Backcountry College, sponsored by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

10 a.m.

Respect the Take: Backcountry Taxidermy Care

Ballroom D

Watch and learn as taxidermist Sean West capes out a deer head and offers direction in packing it out from the backcountry. Find out how long you have to get it to the taxidermist and why you should never salt or ice your trophy skins.

Speaker: Sean West has been producing award-winning taxidermy since 2003. He spends countless hours studying wildlife at home and abroad, which supplements his deep knowledge of anatomy for wildlife from North America, Africa and other exotic species.

Archaeology and the Hunt: Wild Sheep and the 500-Year Old Ice Man

Ballroom A

While hunting Dall sheep in the spectacularly wild Tatshenshini/Alsek Wilderness Park in 1999, Bill Hanlon and his two hunting partners discovered the preserved remains of an ancient hunter emerging from the ice on the edge of a glacier. Now, almost 16 years later, Bill tells the story of the life-changing discovery and the three subsequent expeditions back to the discovery site of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, or “Long Ago Person Found.”

Speaker: Bill Hanlon has been an irascible wilderness fighter for the last 25 years with various conservation organizations in the Kootenay of British Columbia. He is the first chair of the British Columbia Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Bill spends every possible minute riding, backpacking and hunting – especially wild sheep – in the wildest places remaining in British Columbia.

11 a.m.

Backcountry Police: See it. Report it. Nail it.

Ballroom D

As an organization, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is committed to working with law enforcement to report and prosecute backcountry offensives, particularly illegal off-road ATV use. This session will offer a dialog from local wildlife officers and BHA members who have been on the front line of such interactions. Understand the best practices for this kind of reporting and learn from past mistakes of others to ensure the best outcomes.

Speakers: Jason Snyder has spent 16 years in wildlife law enforcement, both in Washington and Montana. He is an avid big game and upland bird hunter of the Rocky Mountains and has horsepacked in the Bob Marshall and Pasayten wilderness areas for both work and recreation.

Buzz Hettick is originally from Missoula, Montana, where he grew up hunting, fishing and trapping in his backyard. He didn’t stray from that lifestyle as he received a B.S. in resource management from the University of Montana. He has worked for the U.S. Forest Service since 1987 and is currently a research forester with the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Wyoming. Buzz is also co-chair of the Wyoming Chapter of BHA.

Outdoor Photography: Honing Your Skills Through the Lens

Ballroom A

We will review easy means of improving members’ outdoor photography, including discussion of technique, equipment and computer management of digital images.

Speakers: Don and Lori Thomas are widely published outdoor photographers whose work has appeared in numerous magazines. Don is co-editor of Traditional Bowhunter, editor at large of Retriever Journal and field editor of Ducks Unlimited.


1:30 p.m.

Conservation Policy Panel: The Year Ahead

Ballroom B&C during luncheon

A panel of three leaders from the sportsmen conservation community will provide an overview of legislative, administrative and other fish and wildlife policy opportunities for 2015.

Speakers: John Gale, conservation director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; Joel Webster, Western lands director, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Corey Fisher, energy director, Trout Unlimited.

2:30 p.m.

A Woman’s View: Gatherers No More

Ballroom A

The ancient stereotypes of women in hunting and fishing have been shattered. Take a walk through the history of women in the outdoors and how those traditions play out through the modern lenses of a professional bow hunter, a hook-and-bullet lifestylist and a groundbreaker in women’s fishing.

Panelists: Stacy Keogh, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at Whitworth University where she teaches courses on globalization, gender, sports and theory. Her current research on women hunters involves a sociological view of women performing gender roles in a field that has traditionally been set apart for dominant masculinity.

Yana Robertson, creative director for onXmaps, has always been about archery. Growing up in a well-known traditional bowhunting family business, Yana learned at a young age to respect the land, the hunt and the harvest. For Yana there is a spiritual connectivity that embodies hunting; being in-sync with the land, plants and animals is a major angle to her hunting style.

Heather Hodson works hard to play even harder. Outside of a nursing career, she teaches women’s fly fishing classes and is the founder of Spokane Women on the Fly. You may spot her practicing “kiss-and-release” on the many rivers in eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

Hannah Ryan grew up in a small Wyoming town, and, though she attempted to stray, her hook-and-bullet father drew her back and made sure she spent her time hiking and hunting. Hannah uses her journalism degree to serve a bird habitat conservation organization, while her passions include studying the ways of waterfowl and upland birds with her griffon and trying to make her fly line float as gracefully as Paul Maclean.

Moderated by Rachel Vandevoort, trade relations manager, Kimber; BHA member, Montana

4 p.m.

On the Wild Edge: Hunting for a Natural Life, special screening

Ballroom A

On the Wild Edge, by BHA’s hunting ethicist David Peterson, is an unscripted, 66-minute documentary that explores the timeless physical and spiritual relationships shared by humans, wildlife and the wild landscapes that nourish both. It follows the yearly archery elk hunt of Peterson, a writer, BHA founding member and award-winning conservationist. A parallel theme tracks the lives of David and Caroline Petersen across decades of rural self-reliance and simplicity, lived on the wild edge of nature in the Colorado Rockies. The film will be followed by a Q&A with David. This independent film was produced by Belgian filmmaker Christopher Daley and financed through crowd funding, including BHA, Colorado BHA and individual BHA members.

Scoot-n-shoot turkey hunting raises issues of ethics, safety

HUNTING — Promotion of a controversial turkey hunting technique that involves hiding or sneaking behind a fanned out gobbler decoy has caught my attention this season.

As you can see in the video above by Mojo Outdoors, this "scoot-n-shoot" method, also known as "fanning," poses major issues with hunter safety as well as ethics.

In today's Outdoors column I write about on these tactics, featuring the viewpoint of five experts in the field, from the International Hunter Education Association to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Check out the video first and then the reactions from the experts. Then let me know what YOU think.

Should the state enact a rule that prohibits a hunter from being closer than 5 or 10 feet from a turkey decoy while in the act of hunting?

  • To show how the basics of hunter education are deteriorating behind this mentality, the photo with this post shows TV crews and men who call themselves turkey hunting experts setting up an outdoors show filming featuring Miss Kansas shooting from behind a gobbler decoy.

Seasoned hunter finds no ‘joy’ in the kill, but relishes the hunt

HUNTING — I traded emails a few years ago with a local hunter named Dennis regarding the feelings we experience when we are skillful and/or lucky enough to fill our big-game tags.  I've kept his last note as a reminder of the fence many sportsmen walk as we make the ultimate decision to squeeze the trigger:

Being a hunter, and growing older makes for constant reflection in my justification for pursuing and dispatching warm-blooded animals. Many of my friends have quit as they age. I guess we tend to become more in touch with our mortality, and find ourselves wanting to preserve life rather than ending it.

I harvested a nice mature buck this year, and although I hit him hard in the vital zone, I had to follow up and apply the coup de grace. I told my son just how I felt standing there, that it gave me no pleasure to put an end to that animal's life. Were it not for the great tablefare it provided, and the time I got to enjoy with my son in the field, I would have left the rifle in the cabinet and found something else to do.

Hunter bags whitetail buck; thief steals meat

HUNTING — The code of ethics among hunters is eroding, as this Eastern Washington sportsman graphically points out in the following message to Washington Fish and Wildlife police:

Here are pictures of the deer that I shot Saturday, Oct. 19, near Rock Lake.  I shot the deer about 9:30 a.m. and processed it and put it into game bags.  The hind quarters I hung in a tree about 50 yards from where I shot the deer and the rib cage I set on a stump.  I left the head lying by the gut pile.  I took the front quarters back to the truck (.85 miles according to my GPS) to get my pack frame. 

My wife met me where I had parked my pickup and we went in to get the rest of the deer. It took 1.5 hours from the time I left to when I returned and found all that was left was the gut pile. 

Whoever took the meat cut the rope out of the tree. 

It is a sad day when someone steals a man's deer. 

Anyone with tips or information about this wildlife crime can qualify for a reward by calling the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's poaching hotline, (877) 933-9847 or the Spokane Region office at (509) 892-1001.  

What's going on out there?

Readers say there’ a sixth stage of hunter development

HUNTING — Reaction to my outdoors column about hunting being a form of tough love has included several readers suggesting there's a sixth stage of hunter development:  The Non-Killing Stage.

This would be the stage in which a hunter no longer has the energy, enthusiasm or heart to kill an animal. I would argue this is not a last stage of being a hunter but rather the first stage of being a nonhunter. 

But as one reader said, " Haven't you ever looked at the dead mallard you just shot and asked yourself, 'Why the hell did I do that?'"

My answer: No.

I'm pretty careful about aiming my rifle or pointing my shotgun ONLY at creatures I fully intend to kill.

However, I almost always feel a sense of sadness that the creature is dead. This is a trait found only in human predators, not in any other predator found on the planet.

I don't find elation in killing.

On the other hand, to start eating a whitetail buck without killing it first would be cruel.

Local hunter rallies to salvage non-residents’ botched guided hunt

HUNTING — It's buyer-beware when paying money to an outfitter for a big-game hunt, especially when the deal is made online and payment is in person without going through a safety net such as PayPal or a credit card.

I give examples of hunters who say they've been burned by a Spokane-area man who advertises a hunting service on eBay in today's outdoors column.

  • Note: since my column was published, Sean Siegel's eBay ad for a 2013 7-Day Eastern Washington Elk Hunt has been removed.

One of these disgruntled hunters was able to salvage his trip from California through the generosity of a local man who heard of his plight at a restaurant.  I din't have room in the column for "the rest of the story:"

In 2012, Jeff Hunt of Modesto, Calif., and a friend booked a five-day bear hunt. First problem: Local hunting facilitator Sean Siegel had promised that for the price of $1,000, he would set the hunters up with a place to hunt, complete with tree blinds.

"I have it in writing," Hunt said. "But he sets us up in a ground blind. I'm glassing through the trees at daylight and I see lady doing dishes through her kitchen window. There’s a road right there. Another house. A school bus. I have a .300 Win. Mag and I’m afraid to shoot the thing.”

The clincher: Siegel later gave the men directions to timber company land on Mica Peak, but he never told them they were required to have an Inland Empire Paper Company access permit. A company security guard caught them, booted them off and called Fish and Wildlife police.

”We went to a restaurant, and we’re all pissed off about getting ripped off by this hunting guide, and somebody we don’t know from Adam hears us and offers to take us hunting,” Hunt said.

"The next morning he drives us all the way north near the Canada border and we saw several bears. We didn’t shoot one, but at least we saw some. The best part of our hunting experience was through a guy who wouldn’t take a dime for what he did for us."