The Hike to Hunt Challenge raises not only money, but awareness of public lands and waters, too.
Every hunter, man or woman, who’s ever stopped halfway up a hill, gasping for air, drenched in sweat, pulse racing, attached to a rope with a dead deer at the other end, has said it.
I’ve got to get in shape before next season.
Well, here’s your chance.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the sportsmen’s group focused on protecting public lands and waters, is coordinating a “Hike to Hunt Challenge.” It’s part competition, part fundraiser.
“It’s amazing what a little competition will do for self-motivation,” said the group’s president and CEO, Land Tawney. “Last year Hike to Hunt was just what I needed to get ready to climb steep hills and follow my black Lab, Tule, across the prairie.”
It works like this. Hunter/hikers register for the event, something that costs $40 but gets them an annual membership in the group – or extends an existing membership – plus some swag.
All set a goal of how many miles they plan to hike by July 31 (the challenge opened on June 1). They solicit supporters to donate to their cause, with the money going to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers tracks success – in miles and money raised – on its website.
Participants, meanwhile, not only get in shape, but have the chance to earn $30,000 in prizes in three ways.
First, there’s registration. Three prize packages worth $1,200 each will be awarded at random from among those who sign up.
At the same time, additional prizes will be awarded to the top seven fundraisers. The first place package is worth $5,000; seventh place still worth $800.
Second, there’s hiking. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded – in men’s and women’s categories – for those who hike the most miles. Prize packages will be worth $2,200, $1,200 and $900, respectively.
Participants must download Under Armour’s “Map My Hike” app to document their mileage.
Third, there’s a social media element to the challenge.
Each week, hunter/hikers who post images of their hikes on Facebook or Instagram highlighting that week’s theme – and hashtagging Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and corporate sponsors — can win.
Already, the group awarded prizes for things like most miles hiked opening weekend and most artistic route. Upcoming themes center around the best costume worn hiking, the most unusual junk found while walking in the woods, most elevation gained and best camp spot, among others.
Participants can hike alone, with friends or as part of an organized event. For example, there’s a two-day backpacking trip through Tiadaghton State Forest in Pennsylvania and day hikes in the Sandia Mountain Foothills in New Mexico.
This is the third year for the challenge. Ty Stubblefield, chapter coordinator for Backcountry Hunter sand Anglers, expects it to draw more participants than ever.
The prizes are a nice motivation, he said. But the larger goal is to raise awareness of issues facing sportsmen and public lands and waters.
“I’m looking forward to Hike to Hunt not only to keep me motivated to stay in shape but more importantly to grow the great community we’ve built over the past three years,” he said.
Hike to Hunt and Muster in the Mountains
If you can’t bring the man to the mountain, take the mountain to the man.
That’s what this is about.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers formed 15 years ago in Oregon. It was, in those early years, largely a Western organization.
It’s since spread across North America.
Just last week, in fact, it announced new chapters in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey and the Yukon territory in Canada. The group now has a presence in 45 states. So only Delaware, Hawaii, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia are the exceptions.
At last count, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has more than 36,000 members.
The group holds its big annual event, a “rendezvous,” each spring. It held its two most recent ones in Idaho, with previous ones held in places like Montana and Colorado.
Now, though, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is holding an eastern event. “Muster in the Mountains” – set for June 22 and 23 in Morris, Pa., in Tioga County – promises to be “the largest Eastern United States Backcountry Hunters and Anglers gathering to date,” said organizers.
Goal of the event is to “celebrate public lands with the usual BHA mix of camaraderie, competition, education, entertainment and feasting,”
Registration for the event already closed. But those who got in on time will have the chance at some real fun.
It will feature archery shooting and competitions, fly and spin casting and turkey calling. There will be a multi-pig roast, wild game cook-off and live music, too. Then there’s storytelling, a massive bonfire, camping, beer, fireworks, raffles and prizes.
And there will even be a “backcountry Olympics.”
The whole thing is family friendly, so events for children are in the works, too.
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