The Need for Wild Places

American Bison standing in rolling hills

Friend of Filson,  Craig Francis shares some thoughts on the value of getting into the wilderness and how Backcountry Hunters & Anglers supports the right for all Americans to do the same.

Filson HQ is, and has long been, in Seattle, Washington. We are a company rich with PNW tradition and have been supplying people for outdoor pursuits and work of all kinds for well over 100 years. The landscape of Seattle has changed drastically over the course of our company’s history and we find ourselves at the center of a booming city – one of the fastest-growing cities in the country over the last decade. While we are proud to call Seattle home, we do realize that time away from the city is crucial to the well-being and creativity of our employees and to the success of our business. Thankfully, we have access to incredible public lands beyond the city that are within our reach, for the restoration of our souls.

We need fresh air to feel human. We need time and space, away from people and noise. We need places to go where emails cannot follow. We need woods to roam and flowing waters to lull us to sleep. We need access to places where real foods can be found; wild animals with hearts still beating and keen senses that challenge our skill and test our resolve to hunt them. For these reasons and a dozen others, we are supporting members of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

three big horn sheep rams feeding
Big Horn Sheep rams feeding on the high plains, North Dakota

Founded in 2004, BHA is a nonpartisan group of sportsmen and -women who “seek to ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.” Built upon the workings of Theodore Roosevelt and the teachings of men like Aldo Leopold and Jim Posewitz, BHA is an organization that is at the forefront of many of today’s public-lands conservation efforts. BHA works on a diverse set of issues that all merit their own stand-alone writings, but in short, BHA involves itself in the following: the rights of Americans to access and experience public lands and waters; the protection, conservation, and stewardship of those public lands and waters; and the support of ethical pursuit of game species by advocating for fair-chase hunting and fishing laws.

The current climate of the organization is an intriguing one. At just over 20,000 members, it has nearly doubled in size in the last year, up from 10,000 around this time in 2017. Comprising mostly young and passionate outdoor enthusiasts from all backgrounds and regions of the country, BHA has a youthful tenor that feels unique in the conservation organization world.

several species of ducks flying off the water
Ducks getting off the refuge to go feed, Arkansas.

Often labeled as “consumptive users,” hunting and fishing conservation groups have at times seemed disparate from other groups that support public lands through “non-consumptive” pursuits, i.e., hiking, camping, etc. BHA has made it a point to build bridges with all outdoor recreators, be they hunters or not, realizing that both user groups share a foundational common denominator – the love for the land and waters we all share. This effort is perhaps best evidenced by the attendance of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, at the BHA Rendezvous last month.

Held in Boise, ID, the 8th annual BHA Rendezvous gathered nearly 1,500 members and interested parties for discussions and seminars surrounding public land.

Dall sheep climbing a cliff in Alaska
Dall Sheep climbing in the Chugach Range, Alaska

The temperature of public-lands issues is certainly on the rise, and without delving into the politics, perhaps it is just good to note the urgency in Chouinard’s words that people who love being outside ought to stick together. BHA is an organization that exists to support that sticking together – for the good of the land and the water, for the good of the wildlife that calls such places “home,” and for our rights as American citizens to experience those places.

Wherever and whomever you are, if you’re into getting outdoors, BHA is an organization and community that is worth a look. To learn more about BHA and the issues it stands for, everything can be found in greater detail here.

Filson is sponsoring BHA’s Campfire Stories tour this year, a series of events gathering sportsmen and -women for an evening of story-telling. Here is a list of the upcoming events.