“Buffler!” exclaimed Boone Caudill, A.B. Guthrie’s iconic character in his 1947 novel, The Big Sky.

Guthrie’s story gives us glimpses into both the beauty of the landscape and the mindset that led to some of the biggest mistakes we made on it. Guthrie writes,

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A scene from The Bourne Identity (2002) captures the meaning of situational awareness perfectly for me. In the scene, Jason Bourne is trying to explain his frame of mind to Marie Kreutz. Bourne explains,

I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the grey truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking.

He concludes by asking Kreutz, “Now why would I know that?”

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I recently changed the declination setting on my compass from 11° 22.26′ West to 22° 49.56′ West when I moved from Peterborough, Ontario to Nain, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. If you have ever used a compass to follow directions or navigate to a point on a map and you are unsure what I’m referring to here, you may have found yourself slightly off your target.

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If you derive any enjoyment from the largely intact suite of wildlife that lives in North America, you have benefitted from wildlife researchers and the role that scientific research has played in North American conservation over the last century.

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It is a generally accepted truth among hunters that heavy winters with deep snow are bad for deer, making it especially difficult for them to evade predators like wolves and coyotes. As I was looking for some recent science that might be interesting to hunters, I came across a new study about boreal woodland caribou that sheds some new light on the effects of snow depth and wolf predation on calf recruitment. While interesting on its own, there is also a larger North American conservation story that caribou are part of now. As hunters, wildlife managers, and conservationists, the role we play in that story will be an important part in writing the legacy that we leave with regards to wildlife conservation in North America.

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In an earlier post, I gave a short list of recommendations of books related to hunting and the outdoors. Some of what I consider to be the best books for people interested in the outdoors are not necessarily immediately apparent as outdoors writing. Others are quite explicitly hunting writing. I particularly enjoy those books that speak to the complex interaction of hunter, angler, naturalist, environmentalist, and conservationist that defines many of us.

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When Ian Tyson once sang about a pack of wolves longing for their former home, dreaming of the sound of another pack answering their calls, he imagined the leader of the pack lamenting, “I’m a long, long way from the Yellowhead, here in Yellowstone”. It’s possible that Ian Tyson’s wolf wasn’t actually thinking about the possibility of a connected route from Wyoming back to his former home in the wilderness of the British Columbia-Alberta border; however, thanks to a large conservation initiative, that kind of connected wilderness is precisely the goal. In fact, those wolves might have travelled from Yellowstone all the way to Yukon.

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The first knife I ever received as a gift has a broken tip, is completely dull, slightly rusted, and opens and closes with a distinct little grind that I imagine is from sand grains having worked their way into the locking mechanism over the years. I haven’t even tried to cut anything with it in probably 10 years.

But I still have it.

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It is an ongoing effort to keep on top of the ways hunting is represented in the media. The speed with which information, and misinformation, spread through social media can make it difficult to be aware of and respond to every conversation about hunting. On top of that, with attention spans becoming increasingly short, there is the danger that misperceptions about facts will become a part of the public’s collective memory before inaccuracies can be addressed.

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The first national park in Canada was established in 1885. To put that in perspective, the toothbrush was invented the same year. That first park, Banff National Park, in Alberta, has an area of 6,641 square kilometres. Banff was the second national park in North America, after Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park is the second largest in the world at 44,807 square kilometres (second to Northeast Greenland National Park at a whopping 972,001 square kilometres).

Wood Buffalo National Park was created in 1922, specifically to protect the last free-range herd of wood bison (Bison bison athabascae). At a time when the bison was being driven rapidly towards extinction, Canadians took steps to protect them through the use of a national park. To this day, wood bison are threatened and that park is home to the largest wild herd in the world. That’s a hell of a legacy to create with our national parks. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) says that national parks are supposed to be the “gold standard for conservation in our country”.

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