Justin Nelson, Chair
Born in South Lake Tahoe, California, Justin has had a deep appreciation for the beauty and importance of public lands since day one. He moved to Arizona with his family when he was only 8 years old and had the opportunity to expand his love for the outdoors. Justin currently lives in Mesa, AZ with his wife, young daughter, and GSP. When Justin isn’t working at his job as a Project Manager for a local General Contractor, you will find him chasing down any adventure that comes his way. His pastimes include, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping; really anything that can be done on the many acres of Arizona public land. Influenced by many of his close family members, Justin has taken the important traditions of hunting and fishing and made them part of his daily life.
He aspires to make an impact on the conservation of public lands and to ensure that our children have the same (if not more) benefits than we have today. He wants his daughter to grow up with a profound respect of wildlife and their habitat and strives to create a lifestyle that encourages her to follow these traditions. For a little over a year, Justin has been the Arizona BHA Chapter Chair which allows him to share his vision at a larger scale. By attending pint nights, the annual rendezvous, volunteer projects, and other events, Justin can collaborate with other individuals that share his passion.
“We have not inherited the earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.” – Lester Brown
Brandon Holub, Treasurer
Brandon is a native Arizonan, born and raised in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Brandon grew up in a non-hunting family and was introduced to hunting by Arizona Co-Chairman Justin Nelson back in high school. Since Brandon’s first mule deer hunt, Brandon has been hooked on hunting and exploring wild areas.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from West Texas A&M, Brandon moved to Chicago to pursue his Juris Doctorate at Chicago-Kent College of Law with a focus on environmental and energy law. Returning to Arizona after several years in Texas and Chicago has only increased Brandon’s passion to explore the outdoors and help preserve and protect our public lands for future generations.
In his spare time, Brandon enjoys traveling with his wife and hunting with his friends. Brandon is passionate about BHA’s mission and is honored to be the Treasurer for the Arizona Chapter.
Larry Ortega, Secretary
Larry was born in Fort Bragg, NC before heading west to Colorado. He grew up in the San Luis Valley, where he learned about hunting small critters and fishing for trout from his family. Although he never participated in any big game hunting during his youth – he was always fishing for high mountain trout in the crisp Colorado air.
After joining the U.S. Army Infantry at the age of 18, Larry was stationed in Fort Campbell, KY. It was during this time that he learned the most about himself. He served two overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, for 12 months at a time. In Afghanistan, where the terrain and conditions tested the grit of any soldier, he found solitude.
After 5 years of active service, Larry moved to Mesa, AZ where he currently resides with his wife Amy, 3 year old daughter Charley, and another baby girl in the oven. He went to Arizona State University and graduated with a Bachelors in Science in Exercise and Wellness, then getting licensed to practice physical therapy as a Physical Therapist Assistant.
Larry’s hunting interests piqued once again when he was invited by a close friend to hunt small game. From there, he found the beauty of Arizona’s public land and the embraced the challenge of hunting big game animals. Some of his favorite spots are the desert valleys, Mogollon Rim country, Grand Canyon, Kofa Mountains, White Mountains and southern Arizona bird and coues deer country. He learned most about public lands by attending BHA meetings and talking to members who encouraged him to become a BHA member. He was instantly hooked and became strongly committed to help protect OUR land and share his experiences with anyone who is willing to listen.
Kurt Bahti, Policy Coordinator
My wife and I currently live near Sonoita, Arizona and have been here for approximately 37 years. I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1978 with a BS in Wildlife Ecology and then was hired by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1979 to begin work as a Wildlife Manager, commonly called Game Wardens. I held that position for 13 years and then promoted (I sometimes felt it was a demotion) to a Field Supervisor position which I held for 17 years. I retired in 2009. During my career I was involved with giving input on management plans for federal holdings relating to wildlife habitat, public access and all multiple uses of those lands. I worked with both agencies and non-governmental groups in this work.
I was a 3-term President of the Arizona Game Ranger Lodge and was President of the 8000+ member North American Wildlife Enforcement Officer Association for 2 years as well as a Regional Director for 2 years. My active involvement in wildlife/habitat issues spans over four decades and BHA helps me keep involved in what I cherish.
I have been a hunter since I was 9 years old hunting behind hounds for lion with my grandfather. I have been an avid hunter and fly fisherman for over 5 decades. I currently hunt big game solely with a longbow. I have taken several cow elk and two 300+ bulls with longbow as well as Coues whitetail deer. I enjoy hiking, hunting and fly-fishing the back country whenever I get the chance. My wife also loves the outdoors and both my grown kids, who were raised in the outdoors, are avid outdoor consumptive users.
I stay involved with issues affecting wildlife habitat locally on public lands such as proposed mines, public access, habitat quality and border issues, as we live about 20 miles as a ‘crow flies’ from the Mexico border. Maybe I should say, “as ravens fly”, as we don’t have crows down here.
Brad Athmer, Event Coordinator
Brad grew up on the fertile and rolling southern Illinois plains between the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers in Freeburg, Illinois. He has been hunting and fishing since the day his Dad took him squirrel hunting at three years old. The strong traditions of hunting and fishing he experienced growing in rural Illinois has fueled his genuine passion for the outdoors and adventure.
Shortly after high school Brad joined the Marine Corps. After bouncing around the United States from San Diego, California to Pensacola, Florida to Jacksonville, North Carolina; he was afforded the opportunity to go explore other lands. Okinawa, Japan was the place he would then call home for three years. During this time he enjoyed every opportunity to explore the wild jungles and lands of Southeast Asia (even if not by choice from time to time).
Upon completion of his active duty service, Brad took a job with Intel Corporation which led him and his family to land in Arizona. He currently resides in Mesa, AZ with his wife and two kids. Being from Illinois Brad didn't have much appreciation for public lands as he grew up mostly hunting on private lands. A long network of friends brought Brad into the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers family and taught him the value of our public lands. Through events and collaborations Brad wants to share BHA's message and welcome others to the family.
Jim Littlejohn, Board Member
Jim started hunting ducks with his dad when he was eight years old. He spent 61 years in Indiana and in 1988 he bought a farm with three of his closest friends. After that purchase, Jim realized firsthand how improving habitat could draw in all kinds of animals.
Jim retired in Tucson six years ago and since then he has learned how to predator hunt in the desert. One of his major goals is to mentor youth and try to get them into hunting,
Jim got into the German Shorthair business a couple years ago. You can find Jim hunting five or six days a week from November to February. He loves everything about it and loves that it keeps him and his dogs in good shape.
Ross McCollum, Board Member
Ross has lived in Arizona for over four decades and has been a Peoria, Arizona resident for the past 15 years. His parents moved to Scottsdale when he was serving in the Army and Ross followed in their footsteps after he was discharged in 1970. He retired as a Director of Program Management from Honeywell, Inc. in 2009 after 36 years of employment. Most of his career was in Program Management in the Special Projects section of space hardware. Ross and his team built large momentum control and pointing devices for a variety of low-earth and geosynchronous satellites. He graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. Mechanical Engineering in 1977 and earned a M.S. in Organizational Management at the University of Phoenix in 1994.
Ross grew up in a non-hunting family in Farmington, Michigan, so most of his outdoor education has been self-taught. Although many of these experiences were valuable lessons in things not to do, his outdoor experiences and friendships are among his most precious memories. His primary weapon of choice is a Black Widow recurve, but he also likes to experiment with the longbow. Ross prefers to carry a 454 Casul revolver when he hunts with a firearm, but with his advancing age eyesight and dwindling steadiness, he sees himself reaching for the Remington 257 Roberts more often in the future.
In addition to big game Ross also enjoys quail hunting with his Montana friend Greg and his dog Lucy when they visit Patagonia every year. He likes to fly fish when the opportunity arises. Finally, much of his non-outdoor passion is spent preparing for, and competing in, matches with the Arizona Sharpshooters using with his Shiloh Model 1874 Sharps rifle in BPCR (Black Powder Rifle Cartridge) metallic silhouette.
Michael Cravens, Board Member
Michael grew up exploring the densely wooded hills and cold clear rivers of the Missouri Ozarks. His childhood days were filled with chasing all manner of wildlife. Whether it be squirrels, rabbits, and smallmouth bass, or even snakes and salamanders, nothing was off limits to this young and enthusiastic naturalist. Later, Michael earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Organismal, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology from Southeast Missouri State University.
Through the years that followed, Michael’s insatiable thirst for exploring wild places never waned and drove him to travel extensively throughout our own beautiful country and abroad. These travels took him to places as far away as the jungles of Latin America and the Amazon Basin. Whether the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, the desert southwest, or the Ozark Mountains of his childhood home, Michael has a deep love and appreciation for all wild places. Of all these, it was the western landscape that held his attention and is now where he put his roots down.
Michael, his wife, two children, and their exceptional golden retriever call Arizona’s Sonoran Desert home. Living in a state with over 50% public land allows them ample opportunity for countless adventures. This opportunity is not taken for granted and is not guaranteed. Today, Michael spends his free time either roaming the mountains and deserts in search of opportunities to bring healthy organic meat home to fill the freezer and feed his family, or he is speaking out against those that threaten the places that allow these opportunities.
Michael holds a position on the board of Arizona Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, is certified by 2% for Conservation, and is an ambassador for Hunt to Eat. Michael can be found on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mlcoutdoors