Oak Mountain celebrates outdoors with Back Country Jubilee

Published 9:07 am Friday, March 25, 2022

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The weather was chilly as members of the southeast chapter of Back Country Hunters and Anglers gathered at Oak Mountain State Park on Saturday, March 12.

The event was the inaugural Back Country Jubilee, a gathering organized by the group to promote the group’s advocacy work involving public lands, wild places and the importance of wildlife.

Organizer Alex Boike said the goal of the group is to keep the heritage of outdoor recreation alive through education. The group is present throughout all 50 states, but the southeast chapter consists of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“We’re a rather small group here in the Southeast chapter, but we’re trying to raise awareness for our public lands,” Boike said. “A lot of people don’t realize what public land is, they just know they go out in the national forests or state parks, but they don’t realize how important it is and that it’s everybody’s land.”

The jubilee was an all-day event that consisted of various seminars, demonstrations, an archery contest and a silent auction. Speakers and presenters ranged from the group Public Land Whitetails with current Alabama state record muzzleloader deer record holder Michael Perry, Backcountry Horsemanship with the Backcountry Horsemen of America, Oak Mountain State Park Animal Rehabilitation demonstration and more.

There was also a turkey calling contest along with an owl hooting contest for the children.

Boike said the chapter has been planning the jubilee since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic depleted their membership numbers.

“We wanted to come up with a big event to draw folks back in and get us back in the swing of things,” he said.

Boike said it’s the top priority of the group to ensure people not only understand the importance of public land and national parks, they understand the beauty of it and that it truly is open to everyone.

“I took my first trip out to Colorado to go elk hunting a few years ago, and this place that we went to was 200,000 acres of National Forest,” Boike recalled. “You could walk for days and not hit a road, and to think that this was everybody in America’s land that they can go out and enjoy it, that was special to me.”

Boike said he credits the disconnect between humans and nature to the constantly busy schedules we inundate ourselves with.

“We’ve just taken public land for granted,” he said. “As a society, we’re so busy with our cell phones and our work schedules and we don’t take the time to stop and think about why we have the things we have. I didn’t understand what public land was until just a few years ago.”

For more information about the Back Country Hunters and Anglers Southeast chapter, visit their website Backcountryhunters.org, their Facebook page or their Instagram page.