This week on the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast John is joined by Kevin Osborn and Austin Morton of the Oklahoma chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. BHA is a nationwide organization that helps protect the millions of acres of public land that so many outdoorsmen and women enjoy every year. BHA does it all, from picking up trash to fighting for our rights in Washington D.C. and beyond. Kevin and Austin help bring those big goals into a more Oklahoma focused narrative by helping protect and educate people right out their back door.
In this episode Kevin and Austin talk about the many projects the Oklahoma chapter of BHA has completed over the last few years, along with some future plans that are in the works. BHA also puts on educational events like deer camps and waterfowl hunts, and entertainment events like hunting and fishing films. BHA is all about getting people outside, and protecting our state lands for future generations.
Check out the Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network for more relevant outdoor content!
[00:00:00] Hey guys and gals, welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors podcast brought to you by Arrowhead Land Company. Here, you will be educated, entertained, and equipped to get more out of your outdoor experience. So hold on tight, because here we go.
What's up ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors podcast. I am your host, John Hutspeth, and we are smack dab right in the middle of October. There have been an insane amount of really good bucks killed lately. And I'm loving it. It's just, I don't know what's going on. Like we.
We were so dry all summer. It was super hot when the season started, but we just keep having these cold fronts. [00:01:00] I think because it's been so dry, the deer just extra reliant on food plots and feeders and all that stuff. But there have just been so many huge bucks killed in our state and everywhere.
Tons of drop tines, tons of like non typicals, tons of big typicals, just it's just been, again, awesome, but outrageous at the same time. So hopefully if you're listening to this, you're kicking back with a, a strong dreek with an umbrella in it or something, because you have tagged one of those awesome bucks.
But, at the same time, a huge encouragement, if you have not killed one of those bucks. It is still super early. So please don't get disheartened yet Don't let social media and all that stuff get to you There is a lot of deer season left and so we're gonna talk about a little bit of that in this episode but man Let's start with this last weekend.
So I did go out to the ranch I did do a little hunting, but I [00:02:00] wasn't really we have just all of a sudden been completely overwhelmed with wild hogs and honestly coyotes too. We have way too many coyotes running around, but I feel like this kind of happens every year. We don't get a ton of hogs during the summer and then basically everybody starts running their deer feeders.
And the hogs just come out of the woodwork. And what's odd is, I have almost all my feeders pinned. I have one feeder that's not and I purposely have left it unpinned for the hogs. I call it my sacrificial feeder. I'm trying to draw the hogs to this spot so that they leave all my other spots alone.
But, they, like the hogs have just been everywhere. Even my cameras that are not on feeders. I'm getting hog pictures almost nightly. Like they're just following trails and running rampant. So anyway, so going back to this weekend I was hoping to hunt Friday evening, but [00:03:00] I didn't get off work in time.
And then I had to keep my baby for a little while. Not that's a chore. I love my daughter. I love keeping her. But got up there pretty late on Friday. Saturday morning, woke up early. Killed one hog in the morning. Oddly enough, I did not see a single deer Saturday morning. Even though we had this big cold front come through.
Again, I wasn't necessarily deer hunting. Like I had my bow just in case. But I just thought I would see something, but didn't see a single deer. Got a hog, so I was still pretty happy. During the day, did a little work. I had two, I think two cameras that were not sending me pictures. Got one of them fixed.
I put a extended antenna on the other one and it still is not working right. I don't know what the I had this exact same camera. In this exact same spot last year, and it worked just fine all year long. This year, even with the extended antenna, it's not working. And so [00:04:00] I don't know if I need to move the camera somewhere else and bring in a different camera or maybe take it somewhere that I know has better service just to get it running.
I'm not sure what's going on. But anyway, that camera is still not sending pictures. But it is. taking pictures, luckily, so I can, check it physically. There are two decent deer there. One deer is I want to say he's three, maybe four. Another deer that's two, maybe three. Both of them are future studs.
The older one, he already has ten points. He's pretty dang tall. But he just needs another year or two. The other deer I actually contemplated culling him last year. I thought he was a two year old last year, but looking at his body, he almost still looks two this year. He could be a three year old, but anyway, stupid wide for how young he is.
He's, I'm going to say he's 18 or 19 inches wide as a two or three year old. Not great tine length but he's an eight point right [00:05:00] now, but I just think he's going to be really good in another, like three years and so trying to protect him but anyway, so I got some of my other cameras running, I moved a camera onto a scrape what else did I feel like I did so much on Saturday oh, I sided in a new rifle that I bought, which is exciting I got out my muzzleloader stuff cause that's coming up in a few weeks and just, looking over everything.
I probably need to order a few more bullets I didn't actually shoot it, but I got all my stuff out, cleaned it, that type of thing. I plan on shooting it this weekend just to make sure everything's still good it's been basically sitting under my bed for a year, and so I need to, put a few rounds through it.
Make sure it's good. Just trying to stay ahead of the game, and then Saturday evening I went out and had a pretty cool experience. I went ahead and brought the longbow So I have one of my buck tags filled super early And I really need to kill some does this year [00:06:00] I haven't done a great job of that in the past, last year I think we only killed two, I think the year before that we killed three, and, we've taken two to three bucks off the property the last couple years, and Yeah, we need to take some does finally.
So anyway, so I was like if I'm going to hunt, I want to still make it exciting. And so I'm going to take my long bow. And so I went out Saturday evening, sitting in the blind, it was pretty nice and cool. I think I did have to take my shirt off when I first got in.
Cause it was a little warm, but open the windows, eventually put the shirt back on. So sitting there and I catch some movement and I see a doe. I was like, sweet, some meat for the freezer, some backstrap, I need to thin some doughs, and I'm scanning around, I see that there's a second dough with her, I was like, sweet I'm sitting over a feeder, got the longbow ready, so I'm just waiting for them to come in, they're working their way in, and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they take off running, and I'm like, what the heck, and this little yearling buck comes sprinting from my [00:07:00] right, And he he's just ready to go.
He doesn't know that they're not ready to rut. He's ready to rut. He's what is this, breeding thing? So he comes running across, and I'm like, dang it. He's scared off the does. They're probably not gonna come in. And he's sitting there, standing there, and he's looking up at them.
And then all of a sudden, he looks over his right shoulder. And I'm like, oh could this be a good buck or something? And here comes Mr. Hog. I was like, sweet. That was the other thing I was after. I knew there were hogs in this area. That's part of the reason I went there. So I was like, added bonus, here comes a hog.
And so the the one downside of my plan was I realized when it started coming in, That I have a pen around this feeder and I realized this hog can't get inside the pen and I have a long bow, which I can not shoot very far. And so the hog works his way all the way in and he's basically like running back and forth along the pen.
He's like some of the corn makes it outside. And [00:08:00] so he's chomping down and I'm just sitting there at the longbow like I can't do anything about it and this one spot he's perfectly broadside. He's like probably 18 19 yards But he's like up against the panel and I'm not gonna try to shoot, you know through the hog panel And so like god he has to back up some So sitting there and he I mean he's there for several minutes and finally he starts working his way away I was like All right, this is the moment and and I have not shot my longbow that much this year like last year I shot it a ton this year.
I shot it a couple times and during the day on saturday, I went out and shot it into a hay bale. I was feeling pretty comfortable with it. So so i'm feeling pretty good sitting there. I got my you know, my glove on and everything And he starts working his way away And finally he starts moving to the left and I didn't range him I just knew like I knew how far the feeder was I knew how far the panel was, and he was a little bit past that, and I was like, alright, here goes nothing.
And in the blind, with a longbow, drawback, [00:09:00] let her fly, he's probably 23 to 25 yards, something like that. And, I just, every time, which I've only shot my longbow at two living animals ever, two hogs. And the first hog I ever shot at, I ended up hitting low, like I just barely scraped his belly, he got away.
And, this hog he's out there a little way. And if you've ever shot a hog with your bow, they typically don't have time to move. They have very short legs, they're bigger, they're not as fast as whitetails, so normally they don't, you don't really have to adjust for your shot.
This hog's at 25 yards, I let this arrow fly, and not only does this hog have time to bend and snap and push away, But he actually jumps, and luckily for me, because my shot would have been high aiming with a longbow is just tough, but he jumps right into my arrow.
And I hit him perfectly behind the shoulder. It was a little bit high. But right behind the shoulder and he like runs [00:10:00] off to the left. He does this huge loop around, goes back to my right and runs back to the way he went. And he goes down into this little draw. And so I'm sitting there and I'm waiting and I hear him do like a death rumble, like a, and excuse my hog voice there.
So I'm pumped. I'm like, dude, I just nailed this thing. And it was getting dark. I could probably have left. I didn't bring my pistol with me or anything like that. I was like, man, I need to go look for this thing. So go ahead and climb down. Got the long bow. And that, and this is the other crazy thing.
Like the arrow is still sticking out of him. So I knew I didn't have a complete pass through. But I start looking for blood and I can't find any blood. And I know you've heard me talk that I'm like, Decently colorblind, so it's hard for me to find blood, but like I knew exactly where this hog was standing and I'm looking around I can't find anything I'd made a mark of where he went in so I knew where he was I figured I'd just walk over there and he'd be laying there So I'm [00:11:00] walking over there and I find my arrow and I was like, oh sweet So I pick my arrow up and I'm looking at It's got bubbly lung blood all over the broad head.
I had about, I'd say, eight inches of penetration, something like that. There's blood all over it. There's hair on it. I was like, dude, this pig he's definitely right there. And I keep walking up and, again, I don't have a gun. And I'm like, hey pig! Because I don't want him to jump up and get me.
Walk down into the little draw and he's just not there. And again, like I know exactly where he went in, so I'm looking on the trail, zero blood. And at this point, obviously like the arrow has come out of him, so he has to have a hole in his side. Never found a single drop of blood. I walked around the thicket on both sides.
I walked into the thicket just a little bit, but it was so thick and it was pretty much dark at this point. All I had was my longbow. I was like, All right, I'm just, it's just a hog. Like I'm just not risking it. I'm not going [00:12:00] in there after a potentially wounded hog. And so very confident that he's dead.
I obviously got lung. Eight inches of penetration probably got two lungs. I'm guessing But I ended up not recovering him which was sad because it would have been my first longbow kill But again, I just by myself in the dark with nothing but a longbow I was not gonna go like crawling into the brush on my hands and knees.
So so anyway Saturday I basically accomplished my goal. I killed two pigs one in the morning one in the evening I ended up not hunting Sunday morning. I don't remember why. I think the wind shifted a little bit and honestly, I just haven't seen, it's mid October, like I was just saying I haven't really seen any action in the morning.
And so I just didn't think it was worth waking up again. So yeah, that was about it. I worked on my cameras a little bit Sunday and then drove home. Sunday was also my wife, my wife's birthday, so I didn't want to be gone too long. And yeah, I [00:13:00] took her to dinner, hung out with her, we took my daughter to the park.
Ended up being a fantastic day, which is always good. Had to get those brownie points in. I would definitely would have gotten more brownie points if I wouldn't have stayed at the ranch Sunday morning, but Yeah, that was just the boat that I was in. So yeah, that was last weekend.
This coming weekend is youth weekend and man, To quote Will Ferrell, I am in a glass box of emotion. So I was ready for my nephew to hunt. He hunted last year. What I was not quite ready for is my niece is also going to hunt. So I was prepared for one youth hunter. I wasn't necessarily prepared for.
But my brother pop that on me and I'm excited. Don't get me wrong. I'm excited. I love, I love hunting. I love sharing hunting. That's the whole reason I have this podcast. Cause I love sharing this passion that I have. But I just, I have a not a lot, but I have a decent amount of really nice up and coming deer that I would prefer [00:14:00] my niece and nephew not to shoot.
And so I already laid that to my brother Hey, I got Four or five deer. There are gonna be no goes and I feel extremely selfish saying that, but we also have a ton of other bucks that I'm completely fine with them killing. As I mentioned already, we really need to kill some does.
So I would love for them to kill. I've actually thought about offering 20. Reward if they kill a doe just for a little extra incentive But I'm also very excited. So I'm gonna go up there. My brother's gonna take his daughter I'm gonna take his son who's a little older and we're gonna hunt hard this weekend Unfortunately, it does not look like the conditions are gonna be great.
It's supposed to be really warm and somehow I the wind this year is Really, I don't know how to say it, but I'm questioning it because it's supposed to be warm, but we're also supposed to have a north wind, which I don't really [00:15:00] understand how that works. But anyway, so we're looking at some tough conditions.
But I'm very excited. It'll be my niece's First year hunting. It'll be my nephew's second year hunting, and I'm very excited for him. So can't wait for that. Really looking forward to it. I'm excited to get to hunt with my nephew. Yeah I'm just, I'm so excited for him to be behind the gun.
I love taking people as much as I love hunting myself. I really love taking other people and especially, younger, newer hunters, so very excited for that. And. Yeah, I think that's the update. I've, man, this intro is taking way longer than I expected, so I'm going to go ahead and shut it down.
We have an episode this week that I think I say it in the interview, I'm almost embarrassed that it has taken me this long to set this one up. We are talking to Kevin Osborne and Austin Morton of the Oklahoma chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. And so if you, are at any [00:16:00] what, into the outdoors, you probably heard of BHA nationwide organization.
I, I'm a member of two, at least two states. And I admit in this, I'm actually not a member of the Oklahoma chapter. I need to change that. I think I first joined in Iowa. at the Iowa Deer Classic. I'm also a member of the Montana chapter somehow. I don't remember how that worked out. I think I was buying a preference point or something.
It was like one of the options. But anyway, Kevin and Austin do a great job of laying out what BHA is, what they do for the hunting community and more specifically what they do for hunters and anglers in Oklahoma. And so they talk about projects they've worked on, they talk about events that they hold and just do a really good job of laying the whole thing out.
And I don't want to take up any more of this episode, I'm going to let Kevin and Austin, introduce BHA and talk about all the good stuff that they do. So that is going to do it for this intro. [00:17:00] So that's what we got coming up, very excited for it I'm really glad that I got these on.
Again, I'm almost embarrassed that it took me this long, so without further ado. We are gonna get into this week's episode with b h a. After this. There is truly no place like the great outdoors in Oklahoma. When you're out in the wild. You want your wireless devices to work unlike other carriers.
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Bravado Wireless, the power of connection. Hey everybody. Welcome to today's show. And today we have a fantastic episode coming up. We're talking to Kevin Osborne and Austin Morton of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. How are you guys doing today? Great. [00:18:00] How are you doing so good? And yeah, with multiple people on here, sometimes it can be a little difficult.
So I'm going to pick one of y'all and we'll start that way. Kevin, real quick, before we get into all the nitty gritty here, why don't you just tell us a little bit about yourself? Yes, I'm Kevin Osborne lifelong Oklahoma, Oklahoman came to hunting a little bit later in life, but have fully embraced hunting, been fishing and camping most of my life, but the whitetail stuff is a little bit new, about six years in getting familiar with it.
Awesome. All right, Austin, how about you? My name is Austin Morton. I'm also an Oklahoma native, born and raised. I'm from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Unlike Kevin, I was born with a fishing rod in my hand as long as I could remember. And I had the fortune of having family that, That's all we knew, was to get outside and hunting fish.
And we grew up hunting the Illinois river bottoms, hunting all over Northeastern Oklahoma. And as I got older, that was something I was able to get out West [00:19:00] and branch out and go different places. And so it's been an exciting adventure. So for me it's been something that's always there and, I've got four kids and I know Kevin has kids as well and for us it's definitely about contributing and giving something back and that's why we're here. Awesome guys. I appreciate it. And Austin, I can't hear Tahlequah without thinking of the Red Fern Grows, one of my favorite movies growing up.
And I always laugh because in that movie, Tahlequah is like the big city, like the town he has to travel to and everything. And maybe not quite as much in in reality, but. Anyway, very random, not related to this topic whatsoever. It's funny you say that, I talked about hunting in the Illinois river bottoms and one of our partners in conservation is GRDA and their head water quality director is Ed fight.
And I've had the opportunity to hunt quite a bit on Ed's property down at his place on the Illinois river. And it actually, a lot of that movie was filmed on his property. I've done deer camp in the old house. From where the red fern grows. And so that place is a very special place to me. And [00:20:00] again, GRDA has been great partner with us.
They're doing some really exciting things up river. And that's some of the stuff we've been involved with asking some hard questions to them and they've done a great job of answering those. Yeah, we love that area. Don't hunt a lot of raccoons. We were hard on the whitetail down there though.
Yeah, that's awesome, man. That is really cool. Glad I brought it up. Fun little tidbit. Cool guys. I, like I said, I'm very excited and I almost feel a little guilty that it's taken me this long to get y'all on the show. Because y'all are a part of a great organization backcountry hunters and anglers, and so that's what we're here to talk about today.
And I was hoping first off just the 30, 000 foot view. Just what is backcountry hunters and anglers, and then we'll bring it in a little closer, but I'll let either one of y'all take the lead just to tell us a little bit about the organization. Kevin, if you're okay, I'll, I don't mind just laying that out.
There's just to go directly from our mission our mission back country hunters and anglers is to seek and ensure that North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and [00:21:00] fishing in a natural setting through education and work on behalf of the wild public lands, waters, and wildlife.
That's the official statement. What that means to us is, we're here to protect wild places. We all grew up or some of us didn't grow up, but have had access our whole lives, whether we knew it or not to some fantastic fisheries and hunting places near us and Oklahoma has a little bit less of that public ground than a lot of places, which is why it's so important to us that we're here to defend that.
And what that means is we're defending Thank you. those places and keeping them wild. We want them to be as natural as possible, but also create access to those places for people to enjoy them. That could mean a lot of things. Access comes in many shapes and forms, and we want to be there to defend that.
Like I said, I got four kids, and I backslide on that at all. Particularly within the state of Oklahoma, there, there are forces at work to, chip away at that. Whether intentional or not, they're there. [00:22:00] And so it's important for us just to try to be that guard against that and to notify people and unify people around that subject.
That access might mean defending water quality in an area that's important for habitat or spawning habitat. We can talk about some of those projects, but for us it's defending access, maintaining public land for everyone. One of our favorite T shirts. If you see somebody walking around in T shirt that says public landowner, that's a B.
H. A. T shirt. And it's a funny play on words, but it's a uniquely american idea that we have these public lands that the north american model of wildlife is has protected the wildlife and created these public lands for us to enjoy. If you go to Europe, that's not the same virtually anywhere in the world, you're not going to see it done as well as we do that.
And then, so you can push your chest out a little bit and it's American and enjoy that. But we've got to defend that because it's not just going to maintain itself.[00:23:00] Very true. Very true. Kevin, anything to add to that or he pretty well cover it. I think Austin pretty well covered that.
Okay, let's let's go down to, to helicopter height then. Let's talk Oklahoma specifically. So you guys are with the Oklahoma chapter of BHA. Yeah, the same question, but just narrowed down a little bit when it comes to the state of Oklahoma. What are some more kind of specific things that y'all are hoping to help with?
I'll jump in and Kevin, there's a ton of stuff here. So I know I'm going to miss some things, but I've just got a few things jotted down that are at the top of my mind. As far as projects that Oklahoma BHA has been involved with, number one, we're very interested in maintaining a strong relationship with our Department of Wildlife, whether that's supporting our local game wardens or working with the department, JD strong to, to bolster his initiatives.
In Oklahoma, we have a little bit of a different model. The wildlife department doesn't have full autonomy to make changes. They have to put it through the commission. [00:24:00] And so there's they do require some support from the public. And it's important that we do that being that it aligns with our goals, which most, most commonly it does.
And We'd like to support the science, support the biologists and the the folks that are out there doing that hard work. So I would say that's a big mission, but to be more focused. We've been actively involved with several conservation events, and I'd like Kevin to talk about some of those because he's done a great job of organizing several events even this year.
So anything that would be a habitat improvement or conservation event to support those we like to be involved in. And then from another level, it becomes involved politically with a famous situation this year is the three rivers Property down in southern Oklahoma that, we lost a large chunk of public land due to some funding, and that's something that if we could get out and head of in the future, and we do plan to get on ahead of in the future [00:25:00] on things that we can help defend those types of losses.
From a local level, it's working with the department. Working with different areas, whether they're state or federal lands to help improve them and defend them. Kevin do you mind digging in on some of the conservation projects that you've coordinated this year? Rock Creek comes to mind and obviously the Illinois River was a great cleanup down at the lower Illinois with Andy Summers.
Members in his team anything you would like to add? Yeah, I would say that's one thing we really pride ourself on is the boots on the ground aspect as a chapter of getting involved and giving people an opportunity to give back and help take care of their, the public lands and public waters that they have access to.
Like Austin already mentioned we 1 on the Illinois River where we did a cleanup in that area. Back in June, we partnered with ODWC and Quail Forever and did Habitat Improvement Project on the Rock Creek WMA up in Osage County. [00:26:00] And then we've done various other ones. We've partnered with ODWC at the Habron Wildlife Management Area for the last three consecutive years.
So that's been, a different kind of project every year, working with that biologist on what they need help with. But that's been really... Really fun to see and just see that WMA kind of progressive. Those events have taken place and we've partnered with the fish side as well and helping them build spider blocks and fish habitat and then use those and in various lakes around the state.
It's it's pretty cool that, like Kevin said, out at the Osage WMA, doing the work there, they were able to do hack and squirt. Invasive red cedar on areas that is, hurting quail habitat. We work with the folks from Quail Forever. And We went out there and got some heavy chemicals and some machetes and just went to town on cedars.
So there's some fun things. Controlled burns. One of my favorite Things, there's a picture of Kevin covered in soot and he's [00:27:00] got a drip lander and he's walking down just burning brush. And so there's some really interesting things. We'll do some trash cleanups, which was probably the least glamorous, but needed.
And so you get involved in some real, like you said, boots on the ground, get some dirt under your fingernails and doing stuff that matters. And as Kevin said, over three years and seeing some of the changes at Hayburn, which is very close to Tulsa residents probably one of your closest WMAs to access and create just some real positive changes in these areas.
I will say this is take an opportunity if you have. Areas that you, that are important to you, that you'd like to see conservation events please feel free to reach out to us. We love coordinating these things. We, if for us it's always a good time, it doesn't really seem like work when you're hanging out with 20 of your best buds sitting around sharing trail cam pics and having a cold one after a hard day at work.
So we really enjoy that. And those things can be a family event, too. It's not uncommon for us to have, dads and sons or husband, wives and kids [00:28:00] and like a whole group come out to do those projects together as well. So that's pretty cool. See the next generation, get their hands dirty a little bit.
Be able to give back and make a difference. Absolutely. Yeah. Especially when it comes to those trash cleanups, those little kids are so close to the ground, just get it done. That's right. Man, a lot to unpack there. And I want to back up just a little bit. When you're talking about the, the goals of the organization and everything and.
I think as hunters we were spoiled for a long time, up until I would say maybe 15 years ago. And I'm 34. So not that I can remember, too much longer than that. But I just think is we basically just got to sit back and enjoy our wildlife. Nobody really messed with us. And then, started out West, you start seeing.
Things get a little more dicey and more political overreach and protesters and all this stuff. And, I think it's important that even though we're here in Oklahoma, which is a very conservative state, rule state, that stuff [00:29:00] is eventually going to make it here. And like you said, we're seeing a little bit of it already.
So organizations like this are very important because one, y'all are usually the first people to find out about it, and two, you usually end up on the front lines fighting for it. And so that is, one huge thing that I wanted to make sure I pointed out and why I wanted to have y'all on in the first place.
And then, yes, like you're talking about, just the everyday doing the jobs that most people. Aren't going to do, like very few people are just going to wake up and be like, you know what, I think I'm going to walk out to this public land and pick up trash. And like I said, having somebody to just get that stuff organized and get people going is super important.
And so that's one of the things that I just really appreciate about the organization is y'all just being leaders in those fields. Thank you. It's. It's just, I think Kevin said it earlier, but you set in that example for your kids, I'll never forget. I was driving down the road with my dad.
I was about 10 years old, had a banana and I chucked that banana pill out on the side of the [00:30:00] road. And he called it to the stop, pulled over, said, go pick up your trash. And I said, dad it'll rot away. He goes, I don't care. You don't just throw stuff out the window. So I had that in me at a young age and my dad, was on me.
So I think it's important for us to show these young people and to show folks that maybe didn't have an influence about. picking up after yourself. We've all been to that area, duck hunting or dove hunting and seeing that pile of shotgun shells. It just turns your stomach. I tend to think those guys are probably not bad people.
They just lacked a mentor in their life that told them what right from wrong was sometimes. So if we can set that example as an organization for our members and people that are coming out or, we were cleaning up on the Illinois River and we pulled a couple of truckloads of trash out of there.
Thanks. And every fisherman on that lower Illinois stopped to thank us. It was really nice because, they're enjoying that resource in that moment, but they see us doing that. And I think that sends a message to folks, too. They say, Hey, man. These guys shouldn't be out here picking up after me. I'm going to do a little bit better.
And so I think it's little things that can make a [00:31:00] difference. I really do. Yeah, I did a little bit above average amount of hunting on public land. Last year, I found a sweet little hidden spot. And yeah, every time I went in, I was amazed at the amount of trash in there, but I did I stop and pick.
I think I picked up one bottle one time. Cause I was basically about to step on it. But yeah, so it. We basically saying that to say we could all be a little better at that. I'll go ahead. Oh, I was gonna, I was gonna say, you were talking about nationally. We touched on some local projects, but I think there's some pretty exciting things happening nationally with B.
H. A. to the effect affect us. On a local level. One of the biggest wins last year was, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Wyoming corner crossing case. But B. H. A. Was integral and providing financial and legal support to those teams. And that's something we're really proud of that, that's overturned.
And we now have a little bit of a precedent to work on. It's a disgusting situation for those that don't know about. I was gonna say If you wouldn't mind, expand on a little [00:32:00] bit for the listeners, in case somebody doesn't know what you're talking about, I'll do my very best. But basically the gist of it is we don't really have too much of this here because a lot of our school fund land has been has been sold off, but in, in some of your Western states.
Particularly, you have what, imagine a checkerboard where you have, your red and black pieces or your white and black pieces and on the corner of where those squares meet where the four squares meet, you may have a red and then a white and white diagonal from each other. Now that's the way the land is laid out in a lot of our western states.
So to access some of that land, you would have to cross one of those corners to go to from public to public. But in the mindset Of our legal powers that be whether it's judges or courts that had not been well defined. So you had some guys from Missouri that went in and were elk hunting, and they had crossed the corner to get on public land from public to [00:33:00] public, but the other diagonal corners were private and the.
The landowners of that property had actually tried to prevent them from going through by putting some T posts in. So they actually brought a ladder, put a ladder up, hauled a ladder in the back country, put it up. So they in no way laid foot on that ground. They were prosecuted in the end, even though the game warden and the local authorities didn't want to, their hand was forced and this very wealthy individual pressed the bet and took it to the courts and.
Common sense to the average person would say if you step a foot over and you don't actually touch their land, then you're just going through the air. And I think their argument was the airspace there was there. So it gets real dicey. Long story short, common sense prevailed and that was overturned.
And those guys, walked away scot free and it was a huge victory. You would think it's common sense, but sometimes things are not defined by our courts. And it, it has a little [00:34:00] bit more clarity now. And I think there's probably going to be some more elk shot on some chunks of ground that, weren't able to be accessed this year.
Yeah, I've I've been keeping up with that story and definitely glad the guys got away, but yeah, I'm real curious to see, cause there's going to be a bunch more of those cases this year. Guys licking their chops saying that you can't keep me out anymore. Yeah we may need some more BHA funded before this is all said and done.
But cool. If you wouldn't mind, just before we move on to the next step you mentioned the one project y'all been working on just to give some people the idea of kind of the different, scope and projects would you mind just running this through maybe one or two other ones that may have been a little different than that one?
From a conservation perspective or just some of our events and things that we have going on. Talking from conservation right now, I want to get to events. That was the next step I was talking about. Absolutely. Like a cleanup or something like that. I know Kevin I'll let you jump in here in a second.
But I would say one of the things that's active right now that we're not, we haven't closed the book on is the Jenks Dam [00:35:00] Project. And So we partnered with Trout Unlimited and some other folks Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma to have an open forum to discuss the implementation of a dam at the Jenks Bridge in Tulsa.
And so for some of you folks on the western part of the state, this may not seem like a local issue, but it's a big deal here. And that's they want to install a dam at at the Jinx Bridge, which would limit some spawning habitat. The Department of Wildlife brought in their stream specialists to sit on the panel and discuss this with us.
And we had the former biologist for the North, Northeastern region, Josh Johnston, step in and he gave his opinion in that panel. We could not get anybody from the dam to come sit but we wanted to just shed light and it wasn't to say that we are opposing the dam or simply wanted to see the impact studies on what that dam would mean for spawning habitat for our striper populations, shovelnose, sturgeon, other animals.
We're actively still seeking resolution on that. The city of Tulsa [00:36:00] and the Creek Nation have put up the money to move forward with that kind of blindly. And, that's leaving out the water quality questions that. The, will the water even be safe if you damn it up? Your people that are involved with streams and the biologists that understand stream flow have some very big concerns and those really aren't being addressed.
Us with several other organizations that, involve sportsmen and just outdoor enthusiasts, the would like to have some questions answered in that. That's something that's on the, still on the plate, where we're actively seeking to find a resolution on. So that would be something that, that I think, would be worth discussing and talking more about, but it's definitely on my mind, as a striper fisherman and somebody enjoys that fishery, it's it's concerning.
Yeah, absolutely. It's, I feel like maybe just the, I would have thought the time has passed. You don't hear many new damn proposals. And so you don't think about this stuff, but I don't know if y'all are aware, but [00:37:00] I actually went to school at the University of Idaho, went to college up there.
Somebody once told me that college was an excuse of four years of your life to go somewhere different and try new things. And so I chose Idaho but I got to see firsthand a lot of the damage that, the dams have done to the salmon populations up there, the snake river and all that. And I actually took a field trip to one of the dams.
And they had the ladder where the fish can, supposedly work through it. And they had part of it was glass. So you could actually see the salmon going up the river. In that same exhibit, they talked about just how big of a negative impact that dam had on them. And I think they had some entries from Lewis and Clark from when they went through there.
And they said that the salmon were so thick that you could walk across the river without getting wet, just stepping on their back because there's so many salmon in there. I know that quote that it's wild, but you're right. There's not many dams going up. It seems as though it's a bit of a an arcane idea to, to step in, put new dams in place where[00:38:00] many folks are tearing them down.
And I, and, I've heard several people say, that this is as much as those people want this dam to go up that our children are going to be tearing it down regardless of what they do. If we can avoid the waste of taxpayer money and, maybe it isn't a waste of taxpayer money, maybe there's a benefit, but we need to exhibit that to the taxpayers and we need to exhibit that it's not going to be a detriment to our.
Public safety in our fisheries.
Cool. Like I said, I just wanted to share some more examples of where y'all been helping, but y'all both mentioned events and everything. And so I know y'all do get togethers and some educational stuff. Why don't you talk about some of those real quick?
Kevin, you've organized our next big event, I believe. So our next event like that is our deer camp. So we've started the last few years trying to host some of the events to allow people to get together, [00:39:00] both experienced and inexperienced hunters for different things. And at the end of this month, opening weekend of muzzleloader, we have our Oklahoma chapter deer camp up at Lake Copan.
So we're camping at Washington Cove. And then from there, hunters have the option to go out and hunt various different WMAs. So they can hunt, of course, the Copan WMA that's right there. The Hewlett WMA isn't very far, the Rock Creek WMA is about the same distance, and then there's even the archery only option over at what is that Osage Western Wall is over that way, which is an archery only WMA, but that's the 27th through the 29th.
And so it's a relaxed event. We want like the classic, traditional deer camp environment. So we'll meet up on Friday, hang out. We're going to have some speakers, hang out around the campfire, have a good time, and then Saturday and Sunday. Go out and then Austin's even going to offer a little learn how to scout for any new or [00:40:00] inexperienced hunters that come out on Saturday should be a really fun.
We've got a good amount of RSVPs and people already signed up for it. It's going to be a good time. I think everyone's really excited unless they were planning on hunting up there and they just heard there's a bunch of new mugs up there. They're like, Oh man we maybe have screwed up.
There's going to be some assassins stepping in here. No. But what I can say and I'll vouch for our guys is everybody's very respectful kind of dudes that if you see a truck at the trailhead, they're probably going to go to the next trailhead. They're not going to crowd you. That's part of the ethic we want to pass on.
So Kevin talked about Saturday morning. I'm going to do just for some. We have some folks that are starting up. We actually have a collegiate chapter that has started at Roger State. Where some of those younger folks that want to learn a little bit on how to get into deer hunting. We're just going to go take a walk in the woods.
Talk about what a white oak is, talk about what a persimmon is, and talk about everything in between. How to look for the right, right sign.[00:41:00] What is good etiquette? Where, what to do when you see another hunter, how to handle that situation and just spend a few hours with them and give them some basic tips that'll help them get off the ground.
We, barrier entry is hard for folks and, if we're going to add new people into the field, let's make sure they do it right, and that they are respectful of their resources, respectful of other hunters and fishermen. That'll be that. And then of course, if you come out, we'll have a bowl of deer chili for you.
We're going to be putting on a little deer chili going. I'll be cooking some of that up. Yeah, we hope you guys can make it out. If if anyone wants to come, it's really easy to find more information on it. You can go to our website at backcountryhuntersandanglers. org or go to our Facebook pages or Instagram.
It's a very easy way to keep up with some of that. Just to backtrack, I did skip over one event next Wednesday. We at I believe it's circle cinema in Tulsa. We're having the IF4 film festival. It's a trout film. So if you're a trout fisherman or enjoy fly [00:42:00] fishing at all. Or you just like hanging out and having a cold one with some like minded folks and talking about fishing.
I'm not a fly fisherman. I will catch trout with a spinning rod and laugh at the trout guys, but or fly fishing guys, but I'll be there. And we're, it'll be a good time. So like I said, it's a circle cinema next, next Wednesday, the 18th. And we'll have a lot of folks there. So there's more information online about that, and you can get tickets for that event, but they're all of our events.
Generally, we'll have raffle items to some really cool stuff. I'm a sucker for a good raffle. So if you show up to one of our events, there's a good chance you're going to be able to pick up a T shirt. We generally have some pretty, pretty cool merch stuff you can wear around and and you can get, get your name in the raffle to win a cool product.
One other event and I'll talk about this and that's our annual duck camp with G and H decoys. We'll hold that on December 15th through the 17th. That's out at Henrietta. And that's a ticketed event. You'll need to buy tickets online. Those are not up [00:43:00] yet, but they will be soon. And we started this last year.
We had about 75 tickets sold. We capped it at 75. So we sold it out. So if you are going to plan to go, keep your eye out for those tickets and get them early. It's just, it is what it is. It's a deer camp. We hold it there at. G and H on the lawn there. Some folks camp, some pull RVs, some stay at the hotels or Airbnb's in town, whatever works.
But it's generally big bonfires at night and cold drinks and tall tales. And then we all break out and we get after those public land ducks around the area. You got the deep pork bottoms and you follow within a stone's throw of G and H and then lots more as you go. Go west and east towards Sequoia and there's just several spots within an hour there that you can get on some public water and it's not all about killing ducks.
It's more about hanging out with folks and spending time talking, duck hunting cleaning the shotgun, picking up new trick. We'll have some [00:44:00] vendors there this year. It was a great success last year. The ducks were a little hard. We hit it on a bad low. We didn't kill as many birds as we'd like to, but even if you're not.
Seasoned duck hunter, and you don't plan to hunt, but you just want to come out and rub elbows with some bonafide duck hunters, they'll be there. And I can't guarantee a spot in the boat, but we can we can make sure that you get a fellowship and spend some time with some folks that know what they're doing and and it'll be a lot of fun, so I believe we're going to be putting on some seminars this year, some basic duck calling maybe decoy spread layouts, things that'll demystify that for folks that are newer.
But more to come on that again, that's December 15th through the 17th. It's a Friday, Saturday deal. We'll have the details coming soon on that. It's a lot of fun. We had a. Absolute blast last year. Yeah, that's awesome. And the big reason of why I started this podcast to begin with was because I didn't really grow up in a hunting family.
I had some family members that kind of [00:45:00] hunted and I had access to land. Cause I grew up in a farming and ranching family. But I'm thinking of that deer camp, I would have loved to have had something like that when I was 16, 17, 18 years old, because I had the desire. I just didn't have the knowledge.
And again, that's part of the reason I ran off to Idaho because I thought I was going to be a mountain man and found out real quick that those public land elk are a lot harder to hunt than a private land whitetail. But I was just so eat up with it. But like I mentioned that, I didn't really grow up in a hunting family.
Another part of that or another thing that I missed out on was that traditional deer camp, just hanging out everybody, going out hunting for the evening, coming back, telling stories and sitting around the fire. I didn't have a lot of that. I did a lot of hunting by myself.
And yeah, if you're listening to this and maybe you're still unsure, needing some help. Definitely highly recommend that. And yeah the duck hunting one sounds awesome to never done much publicly in duck hunting. That's something I've been getting back into in the last year to doing a little bit more duck hunting.
But yeah some really cool events sounds [00:46:00] absolutely. And talk about deer camp, that was my year growing up. I lose sleep over that and it's just all about hanging out with people, fellowshipping, sitting around a fire, eating jelly. And the hearing the, it's all about the stories, you hear the old men and telling stories and I could go on and on about just.
How impactful that was for me and built character in me that I didn't even realize until older, what it had done for me. And so I'd encourage you guys, if you're listening and you want to bring some kids out, it's a family friendly event. We will have fun. We will, cut loose and stay up late and get up early and get after it.
We really hope to see you out. You have the right to the best wireless service. Bravado Wireless provides the best mobile wireless, high speed internet, latest devices, and customer service at prices you feel good about. Bravado Wireless strives to put these values first and offer you the best wireless service available.
See [00:47:00] what they have to offer at BravadoWireless. com or one of their retail locations in Eastern Oklahoma. Let Bravado Wireless connect you to your family, friends, and business partners. all over the world bravado wireless, the power of connection. There's definitely one topic that I want to cover before I let you guys go.
And that is just how people listening can get involved. And this is the part where I have to admit that I am a BHA member, but not of the Oklahoma chapter. I originally joined in Iowa, of all places, the Iowa Deer Classic. And then I believe I'm also part of the Montana one somehow. So people are like me and listen to this Hey, this sounds like an awesome organization.
How do I get involved? Kevin, I'll let you take that. It sounds like we need to get your your mailing stuff figured out there, John. Get you on this for sure. I've already sent the email. We got it. You're welcome, John. Okay, sweet. It's good. It's really [00:48:00] easy. They can go to backcountryhunters.
org. There's a member page right there where they can get signed up and join. We've got a couple different levels of membership. We just ran a really cool promotion last month and signed up a good chunk of brand new members. We're up, I think, near 250 or something like that for the I don't know the exact number, but I know we added, I think, close to 40 just in September with that newest promotion, but it's it's real easy to get signed up there.
Yeah, and one thing else. Is when you do join generally, there's some type of promotion where you're going to get a a public landowner t shirt or, Gerber knife or whatever it is. Just keep your eyes peeled for that. So it's simple. Being hunters and anglers. org. You can join through our Facebook page.
You'll find links and Kevin, I'm sure you don't mind throwing up a fresh link after this, just for folks that listen. When we put the podcast up, we can we can make a link for that.[00:49:00] Make that accessible as well. I'd like to, say what that means as a member, what you get.
And obviously you're going to be. You'll be getting our newsletter. Or our newsletter, our magazine. So you'll get a subscription to the magazine. That's got a copy of issues. There's everything from recipes. They're absolutely beautiful. And I keep one on my coffee table at the cabin all the time.
We're sitting there reading it, but also that money is going to go. Some to national issues and then some to local issues. So the local chapter receives a portion of that. The national chapter will see a portion of that. The national chapter is gonna apply that towards working on issues like I talked about with the corner crossing.
Maybe it's focusing issues that are coming up in Washington, things that we would not have access to from the local state level and tackling some of those federal issues at a state level. That's going to go back to conservation. That's going to be events that we have that are going directly back into our lands and water here in the state.
I will take this opportunity to say, if you want to get involved, Thank you.[00:50:00] There's many ways you can do that. And what, and I'm not simply saying becoming a member is being involved, that is part of it, but getting involved could mean coming out to some of our conservation events can mean come.
And one of our pint nights and sharing a beer with somebody and talking about what issues matter to you because if somebody doesn't come to me and stand in front of me or call me or email me and tell me what they need help working on in their area, I may not know about it. We may not be able to tackle it as a as a state chapter.
So get involved is sometimes as easy as just having a conversation and making us aware of issues in your area. So we know where to start. To put our crosshairs. If you're getting involved, might be getting to run an event or getting more involved in coordinating your own conservation event.
We'll back you up on that. You do not have to be any level of member to coordinate an event. And set something up. So we're always welcoming those ideas. And we are always actually looking for new [00:51:00] people to be involved in the state board. So we've got a great group of guys. Some of them are involved at the state level with the Department of Wildlife and in a biologic biologist capacity.
Some of them are involved on the form. One of them's former game board. Our policy chair been half as a former Wagner County game warden and he now works with G and H decoys over there. And he's a great resource to us. We've got guys that are involved with the BLM and doing some fire suppression on public land.
So we've got a very diverse board. I'm not involved in the outdoor industry at all. But I'm very passionate about it. So don't think that you have to be in Any role other than passionate about defending this. And if you are interested in taking a greater role, we would welcome that. And we're always looking for new talent and new committed people.
I'll say, personally, you can reach out to me or you can reach out to Kevin and we'd be glad to talk more with you about that. Awesome, fellas. Awesome. I know we're coming up on time here, but I want to give y'all a [00:52:00] chance just in case that, I missed something. Is there any topics or anything that y'all want to say that I might've forgot about any other, like maybe a big springtime event or something y'all want to go ahead and throw out there?
Just anything we might've missed.
I don't think for the spring, we really have all of our 2024 events lined out yet. Personally, I would like to say to just reiterate what Austin said, just come give us a chance come to event and see what you think and make up your mind from there. I know. Like it's easy sometimes I come from a background of a non experienced hunter and it's easy to think like for that deer camp I don't know if I want to go to that.
I don't really know what I'm doing. That's exactly who it's for experienced or not experienced. Like for me, when I joined BHA, like I didn't know a lot. I joined because I lost my private land access and started hunting public land. I thought. Yeah. I need to help protect this and I need to learn some stuff and then now it's put me in this role but of just meeting great guys and learning along the [00:53:00] way and now I can say that, some of the people I've met being a part of BHA are some of my best friends and closest hunters.
I didn't plan for that going in, but that's how it's worked out. So not saying you got to come find all your hunting buddies, but come give us a chance and see, you'll see that we're for real and what we're doing matters. I I agree a hundred percent, Kevin. And Kevin does a lot for.
This chapter in the state. I'll say here in front of everybody, he's a good man. And and that's really what I want to get at is if you're out enjoying the outdoors in Oklahoma, you're enjoying hunting, fishing, you go to our local lakes and rivers, whatever it is, if you're a bird and you're not giving back in some capacity, then this would be my challenge to you to just devote a little bit of your time.
It doesn't take much. Devote a little bit of your time to get involved. Look into it. Doesn't have to be our organization. Any, there's a ton of organizations out there that you're passionate about, but don't be a hypocrite, don't enjoy this thing that we have and not get out [00:54:00] there and protect it. That, that would be my challenge to you.
Put your money where your mouth is, be an Okie, grow a backbone and get out there and do the work. I love it. I love it. Kevin and Austin, thank you guys so much for coming on. Like I said, I'm almost ashamed it took me this long to reach out to you guys and get you on, but very glad that you did.
So yeah, I'll be sure to to let you guys know in this post and everything. And again, I just can't thank y'all enough. And so thank you for coming on and we will talk to y'all next time. Hey, thanks for the time, John. Take care. There we go. Thank you, Kevin and Austin for coming on and just telling us a little bit more about the organization.
Huge supporter of BHA. Really you guys need to look into supporting them, going at some of their events, learning from them, helping others, learn anything you can do to help. Definitely look. Into backcountry hunters and anglers. That's going to do it for this week. Thank you guys for tuning in.
We got a lot more content coming up. Deer season's in full swing. [00:55:00] It'll be waterfowl season before we know it. Just a very exciting time of year. So that's going to do it for this week. Thank you guys for tuning in and until next time, I will see y'all right back here on the Oklahoma outdoors podcast.