Hunting for Sustainability: BHA’s Collegiate Program Creates New Hunters

Hunting for Sustainability: BHA’s Collegiate Program Creates New Hunters

MISSOULA, Mont. -( Hunting for Sustainability, launched in 2016 by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers as a way to spur new, conservation-minded hunters and anglers while also engaging with college students who already hunt and fish, is expanding to a state near you.

With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reporting a decline in hunter numbers overall, BHA’s Hunting for Sustainability addresses the challenge some would-be hunters experience as they attempt to break into the sport, offering novices a hands-on weekend of learning guided by seasoned hunters and other experts.

A pilot program initiated by BHA in Montana in partnership with the Boone and Crockett Club covers topics ranging from hunting ethics and game management to firearms safety and field dressing techniques. Participants leave with the skills and knowledge to get started hunting – and a better appreciation of the public lands system and the role hunters play in conservation.

Check out moments from the 2017 Hunting for Sustainability program in a new BHA video.

In 2018, Hunting for Sustainability is expanding to Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming. The program is an offshoot of BHA’s Collegiate Program, itself a fast-growing network of young public lands sportsmen and women that has grown from a single group at the University of Montana in 2016 to 30 clubs at colleges and universities spanning the United States and Canada.

BHA Campus Outreach Coordinator Sawyer Connelly says Hunting for Sustainability responds to a growing need – and intense interest – by young hunters.

“I wanted to start hunting when I moved west from New England in 2010 for college and didn’t really know where to start,” Connelly said. “It was a long and steep learning curve to my first elk, and I would have relished taking part in a program like Hunting for Sustainability. A lot of students join our BHA college clubs because they were in the same position. Hunting for Sustainability is BHA’s way to reduce that learning curve.”

BHA’s Collegiate Program currently is developing a Fishing for Sustainability counterpart to Hunting for Sustainability. The college clubs also launched a partnership with the USFWS in 2017, whereby BHA college club members will participate in service work at national wildlife refuges starting this spring.

“What I love about BHA is the entrepreneurial spirit that permeates every level of our organization,” says BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “BHA’s Collegiate Program and Hunting for Sustainability help recruit new hunters and create the new generation of conservation leaders. I couldn’t be prouder – of both our partnership with B&C and the volunteers and staff who made this happen. I look forward to seeing where we go from here.”

“While conservation is the responsibility of every citizen, over this past century those most active have been hunters and anglers,” said University of Montana Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation Dr. Joshua Millspaugh, who helped organize and teach the program. “A program focused on university students is ideal because it ensures a new generation of leaders have a solid foundation to explore hunting in a sustainable and ethical manner. The enthusiasm and level of engagement observed during the workshop will help ensure the continued success of our systems of conservation.”

Trey Curtiss, BHA’s collegiate curriculum and outreach assistant and USFWS fellow, realizes that he was lucky to grow up in a hunting family and appreciates the hurdles in helping non-hunters understand the sporting culture.

“Soon after holding my own hunting license, I realized that the future of hunting depends on how hunters hold themselves and how the general public views hunting,” Curtiss said. “To me, along with helping new people learn to hunt, the biggest benefit of Hunting for Sustainability is the opportunity to teach and perpetuate a genuine perception of hunting.”

A handful of students who participated in BHA’s 2016 and 2017 programs went on to harvest their first animals in the fall of 2017. BHA anticipates growing the number of success stories in 2018.

Learn more about BHA’s collegiate program and see the Hunting for Sustainability video.

The Boone and Crockett Club promotes guardianship and visionary management of big game and associated wildlife in North America. The Club maintains the highest standards of fair chase sportsmanship and habitat stewardship.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

Backcountry Hunters and AnglersAbout Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:

Our freedom to hunt and fish depends on habitat. While many of us enjoy hunting and fishing on a range of landscapes, including farm fields and reservoirs, there is something special – even magical – about hunting deep in the backcountry or fishing on a remote river.

Wilderness hunting and fishing deliver a sense of freedom, challenge and solitude that is increasingly trampled by the twin pressures of growing population and increasing technology. Many treasured fish and wildlife species – such as cutthroat trout, grizzly bear and bighorn sheep – thrive in wilderness. Others, like elk and mule deer, benefit from wilderness. From the Steens Mountain Wilderness in Oregon to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, BHA members treasure America's wilderness system and strive to add to it.

We take the advice of Theodore Roosevelt: “Preserve large tracts of wilderness … for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether or not he is a man of means.”

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Nice end run round the resistance to their larger agenda of sequestering away as much public land as possible. This outfit is fully bent upon “presserving” everything.. locking it up and keeping thegeneral public out. If they want millions of acres sequestered, raise some funds and BUY IT…… likeNaure COnservancy do. I disagree with their fundamental goals, (NC’s, that is, but I’ll also toss in BHA) but I have NO objection to their raising private money and spending it on lands. In my area NC have bought up a few old family farms that use to be well maintained and… Read more »


What you’re asking is for folks to actually be something more than keyboard warriors and that may be akin to asking Cuba to have free and open elections tomorrow. To reverse your proposal, suppose sportsmen decided to purchase large tracts of land for the public interest, form a trust, sell memberships to cover maintenance and improvements and ask the State for tax incentives so they, the State, wouldn’t bear the responsibility? Once it’s in private hands groups like BHA could bitch and moan all they wanted to but that’s about all they could do. Just a thought which someone will… Read more »


I agree with Felixd. When you can’t win by forcing your true agenda on your audience find a back door. In this case, unfortunately, it’s through Boone & Crocket and saying you promote sustainability in hunting. I guarantee that there is another message being insinuated along with this, almost a subliminal form of brainwashing. We know BHA is anti-hunting, anti-sportsman and pro-govt land grab so when they, all of a sudden, do an about face it should throw up red flags everywhere and we should be making sure folks who haven’t heard of them before don’t get sucked in.


Why do I get the impression that BHA’s latest attempt to infiltrate American life is to resurrect something akin to the old Communist Young Pioneers programs. No doubt we’ll see cultural exchange trips to China and Russia for American youth in the near future. Kids will be able to discover the most recent trends in collective fish farming techniques that enhance the social value of Rainbow Trout promulgation and, in Russia, the social commitment to the use of all non-toxic projectiles and fishing weights will be examined. Snowflakes of the world, unite!