The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently appointed Derek Pankratz serve as a Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) for the Gunnison National Forest.
Derek was born and raised in northeastern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Michigan. He started gun deer hunting at age 12 and began archery hunting not long after. “I was fortunate to have many uncles and cousins who hunted when I was growing up and they taught me foundational skills,” he said. “That said, a lot has been self-taught—with lots of mistakes along the way! My brother is my primary hunting partner and has been a great mentor, even though he’s three years younger (don’t tell him I said that).”
Over the years, Derek has steadily expanded his hunting portfolio to include turkeys, rabbits, squirrels and a “bit of dabbling in waterfowl.” He hunts with a modern compound bow, rifle and shotgun. “I’m a very casual angler but do like the simplicity of Tenkara-style fly-fishing,” he added. Derek studied economics and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “I worked for the government in DC before deciding it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I’m now a researcher and writer for a global consulting firm, currently focused on climate change and corporate sustainability.”
Since moving to Colorado a few years ago, Derek has been working on building his mountain hunting skills, mostly chasing elk with a bow, but also mule deer, and dusky grouse when he stumbles into them. “I really love archery elk hunting. September in the mountains with bugling bulls is something special,” he added. “Mule deer, too, when I can get a tag, along with turkeys and grouse. Looking forward to pulling an antelope tag this year or next. A bit of trout fishing in the summer as well.”
Derek lives in Gunnison. “We moved from Wisconsin in large part because of the incredible access to public lands, and we’re fortunate to have so many opportunities here to hunt, fish, camp, hike, mountain bike and ski,” he explained. Derek first heard about BHA from his brother and joined in 2017.
“Despite the trials and tribulations we’ve all faced during the last year-plus, one only need look to the growing ranks of selfless, boots-on-the-ground Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteers for inspiration,” said chapter co-chair David Lien (a former Air Force officer). “Dedicated hunter-angler-conservationists like Derek, and all the other BHA members across the country and continent, are collectively making a difference for wildlands and wildlife every day, following in the footsteps of America’s greatest hunter-conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, who said: ‘Do what you can with what you have where you are.’”
The Colorado BHA chapter’s 45 Habitat Watch Volunteers are following TR’s advice, serving as our “eyes and ears” in all eleven Colorado national forests. Contact HWV Program Coordinator Don Holmstrom ([email protected]) for additional information. Also see: Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) program information.
Additional BHA/Colorado BHA Information:
- Colorado BHA Corporate Partners.
- Hunting For Sustainability (H4S).
- BHA’s Public Waters Access campaign.
- BHA’s Collegiate Program. Collegiate Quarterly: (December 2020); (October 2020).
- Backcountry Journal (Spring 2021); (Winter 2021); (Fall 2020); (Summer 2020).
- Backcountry Beat (February 2021); (January 2021); (November 2020); (October 2020).
- BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative. “Armed Forces Initiative-Get Involved.”
- “Where Hope Lives: A Brief BHA History.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 11/30/20.
- “Empowering Leaders: It’s In BHA’s DNA.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/7/21.
- “We Are Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/2/21.
- Check out our Take Action Center to stay engaged on good and bad bills in your area.
- David “Elkheart” 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 48 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 2,500 dedicated hunters and anglers.
 Editor. Quotations of Theodore Roosevelt. Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 2004, p. 11