Living in Pasadena and working in the gridlock that is Los Angeles, Justin Bubenik still lays claim to his Oregon roots where he grew up hunting upland and waterfowl, chasing steelhead and trout with his fly rod, searching the foothills of Mount Hood for wild mushrooms with his grandparents, and cultivating his green thumb in his family’s garden.
LA posed some challenges when it came to adapting my childhood recreational pursuits, but once I embraced the “wilderness” that was at my feet, and overlooked by the masses, I’ve came to love it. Hitting the scrub and creek beds at day break in search of a handful of quail and the odd cottontail, taking a lunch break to stick a “steelhead” in some of the deep refuge pools a little higher in the hills, then catching the sunset while casting a fly into the Pacific to round out the surf and turf - not a day I envisioned having down here until recent.
During his spare time, Justin volunteers as the Co-Chair of the California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, leading the charge for public lands and wildlife in Southern California. He also sits on the Southern California Advisory Council for California Trout, focusing on a personal interest of the protecting and restoring populations of the Southern Steelhead, and serves on the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative as the representative for the Southwest Council of Fly Fishers International.
More than anything, Justin is driven to get more people into the outdoors, regardless of the activity - taking time to introduce LA-area youth and beginners the frustrations of fly fishing and tying through his local Pasadena Casting Club and new hunters to the rewards of relying on sustainable wild game through BHA outreach.
We need more advocates in the woods and on the water, regardless of the other characteristics that may define them. To begin, we need to reshape society's stereotypes aimed at hunters and anglers, as well as those stereotypes perpetuated in the outdoor recreation community of the diverse groups we're trying to bring into the fold. The fact that companies like Hunt to Eat are willing to have these complicated conversations, while fostering a welcoming community, is a sign we’re moving the needle in the right direction, but this is just the beginning.
Follow Justin along his adventures in the wild @chasingtail_tailingloops on Instagram!