MISSOULA — The Backcountry Hunters & Anglers annual get-together is outdoors and in person this year: the BHA North American Rendezvous at Fort Missoula.
With a history dating back to 2004, the nonprofit headquartered in Missoula now has chapters in almost every state and Canada. Membership is skyrocketing. In 2015, about 2,000 were members, now the number is up to approximately 40,000.
BHA CEO Land Tawney told MTN News the event signaled a “resurrection” out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People are ready to start going out into Montana, into other places, because they care about what we do,” Tawney said.
The organization is nonpartisan, and its membership accounting showcases even distribution among political orientations.
The uniting aspect is continuing the legacy of natural landscapes in North America through education and advocacy.
“We own 640 million acres in this country. In Montana, public lands is a way of life. So if you hurt, you fish, you kayak, this is the place to be right now. Let's make sure that we have public lands and public waters for everybody in perpetuity,” Tawney said.
BHA holds gatherings every year to educate on the backcountry with workshops and seminars.
Activities like a Bison Breakdown, the deconstruction of an entire buffalo lead by Blackfeet tribal members, take place at the event.
BHA Director of Innovative Alliances Rachel Schmidt was a key organizer behind the event. She said the group isn’t just made up of people who fish and hunt.
“We have a lot of people that maybe actually don't fish much. They actually love to go forage for mushrooms and things like that, so you know we do really like to stand up the heritage of hunting and angling for sure, but it's a really great group of folks,” Schmidt explained.
Members visited Montana from all over for the event, from Florida to British Columbia in Canada. And yes, from right here in Montana too. Tickets can be purchased at the event that goes through Saturday with virtual options included. For more information visit backcountryhunters.org.