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.
Michael Cravens, Event Coordinator
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
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.
Don Haven, Board Member
I grew up in a small farming and logging town in western Washington chasing trout and grouse and occasionally attending school when I had nothing better to do. After graduating high school, I spent a couple of years in Arizona and then Minnesota where I married my wife. While Minnesota was great, I missed the open spaces and public land of the west and jumped at the opportunity to come back to Arizona in 2002.
I spent the next ten years exploring the state but didn't start hunting and fishing again until my dad retired and moved down here and we started putting in for the big game draws together.
Although I came home empty handed from my first few hunts, the experience was transformative. I was no longer hiking the trails seeing the same thing as every other hiker. Traveling off trail in pursuit of animals led me to places most had never been, and I was a participant in nature instead of a spectator. I was hooked on hunting at that point, and when my wife was invited to work in a small village on Prince of Wales Island in South East Alaska, there was no chance of turning it down. It was while living there that I learned about BHA.
When we returned to Arizona, I felt a calling to get involved in protecting the wild places and animals that meant so much to me. I came to feel that one of the best ways to do that was to share these places and experiences with others in the hope that they would value and protect them as well, so that they would be there for my daughter and those that, as Teddy Roosevelt said, are "within the womb of time".
When I'm not hunting, my hobbies still draw me onto public lands. If I'm not at work you'll find me mountain biking and backpacking with my daughter, camping with my family, or running the trails in the mountains near my home.
Wolf Gumerman, Board Member
George “Wolf” Gumerman recently retired from Northern Arizona University where he taught for 26 years. He began his NAU career as an archaeologist conducting excavations on the North Coast of Peru focusing on understanding prehistoric food systems. In addition, he collaborated with the Hopi tribe to promote cultural preservation. Wolf also directed NAU’s Honors Program and then became the Founding Dean of the Honors College.
An avid fly fisherman for decades, Wolf recently took up hunting. He has always enjoyed eating game and understood the management role in hunting; but it wasn’t until a few years ago searching for elk with his wife and father that he realized he wanted to hunt. Now he is addicted to chasing birds behind his German Wirehair Pointer, Bella. He is hoping to fill some tags for Elk, Coues Deer, and Antelope. Wolf also truly enjoys foraging—especially for mushrooms on public lands. His hunger for foraging and hunting culminates in the kitchen where he enjoys feeding others—especially friends and family—his wife Liz and their two grown “kids”.
Wolf, an active user of public lands since he can remember, feels it is important to use his time and energy to protect these special places and the wildlife they hold.
Colin Chadwick, Board Member
Colin lives with his wife and 2 children in Buckeye, Arizona. He is beginning his 13th year as a Team Leader in Nuclear Security at Palo Verde Generating Station. Colin grew up in Southern California before moving to Arizona almost 20 years ago. While in Southern California, Colin grew up in a non-hunting family but would frequently spend free time fishing for trout or hiking and camping either in the mountains or Joshua Tree National Park.
In 2013 a friend from work offered to take him on his first rifle deer hunt and he was hooked! He now tries to take advantage of all that the great state of Arizona has to offer hunters and anglers. Ever since that day he has been trying to learn everything he can about the land, animals, and the systems that protect both of them. This is how he found BHA.
Colin feels that the BHA’s mission mirrors his own mission: protecting the landscapes that he loves for his children and future grandchildren. He became more actively involved with the Arizona chapter and quickly learned that advocating for the things we love is the only way to keep them. He is looking forward to raising more awareness within his community, state, and nation.
Andrew Larson, Region 1
I currently live in Pinetop, Arizona where I work and play on public lands across the state. I am a born and bred Desert Rat and have spent years exploring the diversities this state has to offer. As a Native Fish Biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, I get to call the White Mountains and beyond my office; working with the conservation of native fishes and other aquatic species.
From a young age, exposure to the outdoors of Arizona and elsewhere was formative in who I have become. Spending years hunting, fishing, backpacking, and exploring the state, and I am still amazed by the sense of home, adventure, and novelty that the public lands of Arizona provide me with. Whether it be a simple camping trip, a forage for mushrooms, a quail hunt with my Brittany, or a full blown backcountry hunt; you can find me out bouncing down a dirt road chasing some idea most weekends of the year.
Since gaining so much from our public lands, I am working towards giving back in ways that I can. Through BHA, I hope bring awareness of issues regarding modern land use and conservation to the fore-front of everyone's minds. I see major shifts in the way our public lands are being used, the way people recreate on them, and I want to play a part in preserving what we have. I also hope to continue to provide information, education, and opportunity to people wanting to involve themselves outside in some form or another.
John Bax, Region 2
John grew up roaming the woods of southeastern Pennsylvania. Interested in the natural world from a young age but growing up in a non-hunting family he studied edible plants and practiced primitive survival skills. Later, in college at Salisbury University on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, he met a friend who introduced him to hunting and mentored him. After the first deer hunt he was hooked. He chased turkeys, whitetail and sika deer, squirrels, rabbits, and any other legal game while earning his B.S. in Biology.
He briefly pursued a career in the laboratory of a major pharmaceutical company before realizing he needed to be out in the field. John joined the Maryland Conservation Corps for two years at Assateague Island State Park where he taught environmental education and lead kayak, fishing, and foraging tours.
Wanting to expand his professional boundaries John took seasonal biological fieldwork where ever he could. From guiding hikes and whale watching tours in Alaska to camera trapping carnivores in California, surveying prairie chicken leks in South Dakota to protecting sea turtle nests in the Outer Banks of North Carolina he took any work that seemed interesting. Of course he hunted, fished, and foraged along the way! All this exposure to our public lands and their resources instilled in him a deep respect for the land and with that respect a need to protect those resources.
John can currently be found in Flagstaff, Arizona painting houses when he isn’t doing biological work in the Mohave desert.
Joseph Brookshier, Region 5
Joseph is a third generation native to Southern Arizona. Spending his youth camping and following his uncle around while chasing quail he caught the hunting bug in his late teens. Always a bird hunter, pursing big game became an obsession later in life. Now a passionate deer hunter, Joseph encountered a public lands access issue when a land owner locked a gate blocking the nearly thirty thousand acres of publicly owned land where he spent his youth and built many memories. Through this disappointment, Joseph found BHA.
A bad angler himself, he uses fishing as a way to to expose his children to the outdoors and hopefully instill in them the same passion he has for our wild places. When not involved in outdoor activities, he can be found around the kitchen or near a bbq expanding his knowledge and passion for cooking.
Joseph currently lives in Vail, Arizona with his wife and two children. He is excited to be a Regional Director and to help in protecting our public lands and ensuring future access for all.
David Ross, Region 5
Adult-onset hunter, dad, husband, nurse, vet, and Arizonan. I went on my first hunt 4 years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since ( as my wife can surely attest). After looking at some maps, and “discovering” the extent of our public lands system, it didn’t take long for me to stumble into the BHA and the truly amazing work they do. Since then, I’ve been trying to hunt, learn, and enjoy as many days in the field as I can. I love spending time outside exploring, chasing, and cooking game. I have also had the privilege of bringing a few new hunters into the fold. My wife Jess and I have an adventurous baby girl that we look forward to getting outside with as well (we already did 25 miles for Hike to Hunt 2019!). I am honored to now be a part of the BHA team, as one of the Regional Directors for Tucson, working to ensure that OUR lands are always here. Instagram @dsr_outside
Jason Ceola, Region 6
Jason was raised in the mountains of Virginia and grew up hunting and fishing on his family’s farm. Though also a lifelong environmentalist (Captain Planet and 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save the Earth, anyone??) who earned a BA in Environmental Policy and published a law review article on using conservation easements to protect public land, it wasn’t until moving to Arizona in 2005 that he developed a true appreciation for public lands and their treasures. Public land back east is small, fragmented, and often busy; and since most land there is in private hands it was hard to conceptualize the importance of public land to species conservation and human ability to enjoy nature.
After spending over a decade hiking and photographing the Arizona’s national parks and forest, Jason started hunting public land in 2018 with a San Francisco Peaks bull-elk tag…that only resulted in more photos. That experience, however, redoubled his passion for the outdoors and solidified the value of public lands and waters.
When not hunting or fly fishing, Jason lives in Phoenix and enjoys mountain biking, backpacking, gardening, talking about gear, and scotch. He encourages you to get involved in anything meaningful to you, and reminds you that it’s as easy as picking up a piece of litter.
Steven Taylor, Region 6
Steven, like few others, was born and raised in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Steven grew up in a non-hunting family, but has fond memories of fishing all over the great state of Arizona. Steven joined the USAF at the age of 19 and served for 5 years. He deployed to Kuwait for security operations and to Qatar for air transportation and logistics. His duty stations were spread all over the globe including, Germany, Japan, Romania and Georgia. After separating from the Air Force late in 2013, Steven moved back to Arizona and was introduced to hunting by his stepfather. He became a seasoned backpacker, always searching for his next challenge and adventure. He then decided to mix the two and instantly became hooked.
Furthermore, Steven is very passionate about public lands and keeping it in the public’s hands. He continually volunteers with a clean up crew to restore heavily trafficked OHV, camping and shooting areas. With the help of numerous other volunteers Steven has assisted with the removal of 30,607 pounds of debris, trash, tires, and various other types of refuse from public lands in Arizona. Steven is devoted to keep the lands pristine and to keep them in public hands.
Jack Wilson, Region 6
I grew up in Mesa, Arizona and attended Arizona State University, earning a degree in Business Administration in December of 2017.
I grew up in a non-hunting family. It wasn’t even something we were aware of. There wasn’t a single firearm in our home until my older brother brought one home when I was 16 or 17 years old. Although we didn’t hunt, or fish with any amount of regularity, we did spend time outdoors. My father, who backpacked all around the Southwest in his 20’s and 30’s, instilled the love for the outdoors in me by taking us camping and hiking from a young age. Now, I spend a lot of time in the fall hunting quail and dove, big game hunting (when I get drawn,) and Javelina hunting in the spring. I am a beginner with a fly rod and an amateur archer, but I’m working on that.
Hunting and fishing have added an extra layer to my appreciation for wild places and wildlife. I value our public lands and waters, and the possibilities they represent because of this. I want to help protect them for future generations to use and enjoy as I have, and my family has.
Harrison Holub, Region 6
My name is Harrison Holub, I was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona. Currently, I am attending Mesa Community College and plan to transfer to ASU to obtain a degree in Biological Sciences with an emphasis on Wildlife Management.
Arizona is a big part of who I am. My love for this beautiful state began at an early age and quickly developed into a desire to actively help preserve public land and waters for future generations. I enjoy sharing with individuals the sense of appreciation and freedom one feels when you are deep in the wilderness hunting or fishing.
I am excited to join the BHA because of their ability and vision to bring people together that will influence our law makers and land management agencies to preserve our hunting and fishing heritage.