Author: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Published: January 10, 2023

Check out this new blog post from Backcountry.

“During a lifetime of ruffed grouse hunting (aka, “armed hiking”) in northern Minnesota, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of grouse population cycles and encountered sizable groups of birds, in conjunction with putting my fair share in the freezer, but the most grouse I’ve ever encountered (i.e., in the shortest period of space and time) was completely unexpected.

During the first week of October 2022, I joined Boundary Waters Journal publisher Stu Osthoff (and clients) on his annual Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) “Fall Color Tour.” This was the eighth year in a row I’ve paddled the Boundary Waters with Stu, in part because the trip includes opportunities for “armed hiking.”[1]

As Stu explained in the Summer 2020 Boundary Waters Journal, “… over half the BWCAW is forest, not water. Almost nobody sets foot into over half of this huge designated wilderness …”[2] Hence, there is no end to the possibilities for busting brush in search of wilderness ruffed grouse. The BWCAW is the most visited wilderness area in the United States: more than 165,000 people in 2020, which was a 10-year high.[3]

It extends 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border and holds over 1,100 pristine lakes and 1,500 miles of backcountry canoe routes.[4] That said, the Boundary Waters wilderness is also, unfortunately, one of the most threatened. As most Minnesotans know, a foreign-owned mining company, Twin Metals (aka, Antofagasta, a Chilean mining conglomerate), wants to open a sulfide-ore mine in the Boundary Waters watershed and then sell the ore to China for processing.[5]

“One million acres, over one thousand lakes, countless wetlands and creeks, and all connected as they slowly drain from south to north into Quetico Provincial Park and eventually Hudson Bay,” Adam Miller wrote in the Spring 2022 Backcountry Journal. “It is impossible to separate one from the other. No body of water is isolated for long. Damage done to one is damage done to all. That is why protecting the Boundary Waters in its entirety and perpetually is so important. There are so few places like it left on earth.”[6]

The full article can be found here.

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