Coming in Early 2020, a one-hour feature film featuring the story of the Public Grouse in America, produced in collaboration between Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and Project Upland Magazine.
There comes a time when one gets older and becomes more aware of the world around them. Sure, I’ve experienced this in many ways in life, but I will never forget how confused I was over the concept of “public lands.” Every newsstand shelf would carry hunting magazines with articles about “public lands” this and “public access” that. Flipping through the pages, I wondered to myself, “Doesn’t everyone hunt public lands? What else is there?” Those, of course, were the thoughts of a young naive New Englander who did not come from a world where private property (at least for hunting) was a thing.
Grouse hunting further compounded this mystery as I cannot recall ever shooting a grouse on anything other than ground designated either public access or public land. In fact, the sheer quantity of land needed to maintain grouse habitat with hunt-able populations seemed just about impossible for any private landowner. Some species are simply more finicky than others and while, yes, private land grouse hunting does exist, it is a tiny minority in the pursuit of grouse hunting.
This need, coupled with our passion for grouse hunting, has wooed many of us into a love for public lands, and thus into the fight to protect them. When I think of my childhood memories all the way to my present day trips out with my bird dog, the fact that it was and is all possible because of public lands is not lost on me. Public lands have become part of who I am. The birds I love to pursue, at their most fundamental and basic level, are public grouse.
The Year of the #PublicGrouse
Earlier this year, Project Upland Magazine in collaboration with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, joined together to tell the story of our beloved #PublicGrouse. The idea was simple: capture the people, places, and birds that make the story of grouse and public lands in North America so important to us. We sought to celebrate the truth that without public lands we would not know any of the grouse species in the capacity we do. They are a part of our culture, the fabric of American grouse hunting.
The plan was to cover seven locations, six species, and a wide spread of characters from our community, all in a one-hour feature film. Springtime brought us to the sage grouse lekking grounds of Montana and to the unusual pursuit of sooty grouse in Alaska. As September came into swing, we headed to the plains of North Dakota, hot on the heels of the sharp-tailed grouse before heading to the high country of Utah to chase the non-native Ptarmigan. As the leaves began to turn color and the season shifted into fall, we spent time hunting spruce grouse in Minnesota before applying our efforts to the iconic ruffed grouse in both northern and southern Appalachia.
We envisioned taking the film on the road to screen it at events in 20 locations across the lower 48 states. So, over the course of a few weeks in February and March 2020, powered by local chapters of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, #PublicGrouse will be shared as a celebration of our lands, our birds, and our stories. To further this focus, the Spring 2020 issue of Project Upland Magazine will revolve around the theme of #PublicGrouse, which will dive even deeper into the stories of this iconic part of the American public lands story.
|2/5/20||Syracuse, NY||Redhouse Arts Center||SOLD OUT||6pm – 9pm|
|2/5/20||Missoula, MT||Roxy Theater||SOLD OUT||5pm – 8pm|
|2/5/20||Minneapolis, MN||Heights Theater||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/5/20||Fargo, ND||Drekker Brewery||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/5/20||Rapid City, SD||Elks Theater||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/6/20||Green Bay, WI||De Pere Cinema||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/7/20||Reno, NV||University of Reno JCSU Theater||SOLD OUT||6pm – 9pm|
|2/8/20||Thomasville, GA||Thomasville Center for the Arts||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/10/20||Gaylord, MI||Jay’s Sporting Goods||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/12/20||Portland, ME||Oxbow Blending & Bottling||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/12/20||Pelham, NH||Chunky’s Theater||SOLD OUT||5:45pm – 8pm|
|2/18/20||Charlotte, NC||Heist Brewery||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/19/20||Pittsburgh, PA||Rowhouse Cinema||SOLD OUT||6:30pm – 9:30pm|
|2/20/20||Laramie, WY||Accomplice Micropub||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/20/20||Wichita, KS||Walton’s, Inc||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/20/20||Salt Lake City, UT||Brewvies SLC||SOLD OUT||6pm – 8:30pm|
|2/22/20||Cincinnati, OH||Woodward Theater||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/27/20||Boise, ID||White Dog Brewing||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/27/20||Fort Collins, CO||Lincoln Theater||SOLD OUT||7pm – 10pm|
|2/27/20||Spokane, WA||Myrtle Woldson PAC||SOLD OUT||6pm – 9pm|
It is our hope that this film tour brings the community closer together and amplifies our public lands battle cry. As we face an uncertain future for grouse populations and hunting on public lands in the United States, it becomes crucially important that we are conscious of how the unique nature of public lands has given us the gift of grouse.
We want to hear your #PublicGrouse stories on social media! Over the course of this hunting season use the hashtag #PublicGrouse and tag Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Project Upland, OnXHunt, and Eukanuba to be entered for a chance to win prizes! We are also on the hunt for more stories to tell in online articles about what the relationship between public lands and grouse means to everyday hunters. This is the year of the #PublicGrouse.
A.J. DeRosa is an American filmmaker and the Founder and Creative Director of Northwoods Collective. While he is most widely known for the award-winning Project Upland series, he made his first mark in the hunting industry as the critically-acclaimed author of the cult classic The Urban Deer Complex and, more recently, The Urban Deer Complex 2.0. A.J. expanded his work toward the larger mission of recruiting and welcoming millennial hunters by conducting and applying cutting-edge market research across the Northwoods Collective brands. Now a passionate bird hunter, you can find A.J. following Grim, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, through the uplands with his wife, Sabrina, and oldest son, Marty McFly.