The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently appointed John Chandler and Christian Robertson to serve on their Chapter Leadership Team (CLT) as Co-Regional Directors for the Gunnison Valley region.
John was born in Auburn, Alabama (War Eagle!), and raised in northern Alabama. “I began fishing before I can remember with my father and grandfather,” he said. “I would spend as many summer days as possible with my grandfather, fishing for bass and bluegill on Kentucky Lake. Man those were the days!” John attended Auburn University and Colorado Mesa University and then worked in the ski/bike/outdoor industry for 18 years.
He started hunting later in life, after asking his dad what he wanted to do for his 60th birthday, which turned out to be elk hunting in Colorado. “Seeing elk on almost every bike ride, I guessed I could at least give him a place to start,” John added. “I figured since I would be out there, I might as well walk around with a bow, which always seemed cool to me, just in case. I joined a local archery league to make sure I knew how to shoot and, lo and behold, I’ve been hooked ever since. I have only ever hunted with a bow. I imagine I will and should diversify, but I just really enjoy shooting archery.”
John primarily hunts and fishes in the Gunnison Basin, with the occasional fishing trip elsewhere in Colorado. “I have archery hunted for elk and deer to date, and by hunted I mean aimlessly wandering around in the high country with a bow and pack,” he said. “I hunted the last few seasons for grouse as well and wow is it fun, especially since I get to actually shoot an arrow at something. I fish for all species of trout in all variety of water. From floating the Gunni to backpacking to high mountain lakes, I love fly fishing.”
During 2015, he joined BHA. “I went to a BHA hunting film fest in Gunnison,” John said. “I bought raffle tickets, grabbed a BHA journal, won a pair of binoculars, joined as a member and have been impressed with the organization ever since.” “I recently left the ski industry and now am proud to be working for the town of Crested Butte,” he added. “I am incredibly lucky to call Crested Butte my home for the last two-and-a-half decades.”
Christian was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. “I spent a lot of time outside growing up,” he said. “My dad was a U.S. Army Ranger and he taught my brother and me a lot of navigation and camping skills. We camped and fished regularly.” Christian moved to Gunnison at the age of 17 to attend Western State College, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation and has lived there ever since.
After college a co-worker (Rob Geiss)—who grew up on a ranch in Conifer, Colorado—took Christian on his first deer hunt and he was hooked. “I was struggling to figure out elk hunting and at the same time I was working as a mountain guide through the spring and summer months,” he added. “I got a job as an elk hunting guide, which was kind of funny because I was terrible at hunting elk. Dave Mapes owned the operation and put more stock in my ability to guide people around the mountains and get them back to camp safe every night and was confident he could teach me how to hunt. I learned a lot about hunting and horsemanship from Dave.”
Christian hunted deer and elk with a rifle for over a decade, until a job change and the birth of his son resulted in taking a break from hunting. “I returned to it through John Chandler, who was taking up hunting for the first time and going the archery route,” he said. “I joined him at a weekly shoot with the West Elk Archers and soon after bought a bow and started hunting again. My wife and son both shoot as well and hunting has become a family activity.”
They have started fly-fishing too. “John Chandler helped expose us to the sport and has provided a ton of great insight and inspiration,” Christian added. “We are excited for a summer of exploring streams and improving as anglers.” He hunts mostly with a bow. “I have a long bow and it is my goal to hunt big game with that. I see a shotgun in our near future as we do more research into turkey and waterfowl.”
Christian hunts with his family in the units surrounding Gunnison. “We hunt for big and small game and we love to cook so have enjoyed learning more about preparing elk, deer, grouse, squirrel and trout,” he said. “We are hoping to add turkey and waterfowl to the menu.” Christian has worked in outdoor recreation since 1993 and for Crested Butte Mountain Resort since 2008, where he is Director of Skier Services.
MeatEater and Randy Newberg podcasts introduced Christian to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “I attended a film tour event in Gunnison and have seen BHA info. connected with First Lite,” he added. “I am excited to be more involved and hopefully help lead some work that will have a lasting impact.” Christian lives seven miles south of Crested Butte “in the heart of paradise” with his wife Michelle and son Temple.
“It has been over 15 years since seven hunters and anglers, men and women, stood around a campfire in the southern Cascade foothills of Eagle Point, Oregon, and envisioned a hunter-angler conservation group inspired by the political activism of Teddy Roosevelt and the Land Ethic of Aldo Leopold,” Colorado BHA Co-Chair David Lien said. “We’re privileged to have John and Christian join BHA’s leadership ranks. They remind me that TR’s activism and Aldo’s land ethic is alive and well. We need many more like them!”
For additional Colorado BHA information see:
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers End of Year Report.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/15/20.
-The chapter currently has 8 Groups (in Boulder County, Northern Colorado, Denver Metro Area, Southeast Colorado, Central Rockies, Gunnison Valley/County, Central West Slope, Grand Valley/Mesa County):
-Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) program information: http://www.backcountryhunters.org/habitat_watchmen.
-Also see: “Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteer Program History & Training.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/6/20.
-Colorado BHA Corporate Partners.
-David Petersen (founder of the first BHA state chapter, here in Colorado, and a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) books: www.davidpetersenbooks.com
Founded by Mike Beagle, a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, and formed around an Oregon campfire, in 2004, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice for our nation’s wild public lands, waters and wildlife. With over 40,000 members spread out across all 50 states and 13 Canadian provinces and territories—including chapters in 45 states, two Canadian provinces and one territory, and Washington, D.C.—BHA brings an authentic, informed, boots-on-the-ground voice to the conservation of public lands. Since the Colorado BHA chapter was founded by David Petersen (a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) in 2005 (the first official BHA chapter), they’ve grown their boots-on-the-ground presence to some 3,000 dedicated hunters and anglers.