The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently appointed Elena Reynolds to serve as an Assistant Regional Director for their Central Rockies Group and Leslie Kaminski to serve as an Assistant Regional Director for the Central West Slope Group.
Elena was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, but raised in western North Carolina. She started fishing while growing up, but didn’t go regularly until starting college. “When I moved to Colorado I met the father of my daughter and he was the one who introduced me to hunting,” Elena said. “I have now been into hunting for about three years, but have so much to learn still.”
She graduated from Brevard College with a degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education with a minor in Spanish. “I have worked in the outdoor guiding industry as well as the craft spirits industry for the last several years,” she says. Elena has hunted turkeys in Missouri and big game in Colorado. “I’m interested in all types of hunting; waterfowl, small game, big game, turkey, etc.,” she added. Although archery hunting is her mainstay, she plans to switch it up some.
Elena had been following BHA for a couple of years via social media before joining in 2019, after she started Rocky Mountain Sportswomen. Elena founded Rocky Mountain Sportswomen as a solution to the lack of a women’s hunting and fishing group in her local community in Routt County, Colorado, with hopes to expand into other areas of Colorado and Western states. In addition to hunting and angling, music and traveling top Elena’s list of life passions. She resides in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Leslie was raised in Elyria, Ohio, where a love for the outdoors began at an early age while fishing Lake Erie from a family cottage on Nickle Plate Beach. Catching yellow perch and walleye from her dad’s wooden Lyman boat was not only a fond childhood memory, but started a lifelong passion for water, boats, fishing and fresh fried fish! Her Dad’s patient instruction with spinning reels and live bait also instilled in her the importance of mentorship in the outdoors.
A love of land and water led her to pursue a degree from Bowling Green State University in Geography and GIS with minors in Geology and Environmental Studies. After moving to the Rocky Mountains in 2009, she ended up in the North Fork Valley where her training in the earth sciences serves her well as a middle school science and math teacher. After ten years as an educator she truly enjoys inspiring sixth graders in Hotchkiss, Colorado, taking them on field trips whenever possible and leading an after school fly tying club.
Her love of angling continues to this day. Leslie enjoys fly-fishing for trout in rivers and lakes and catching the occasional pike. A recent six-day float trip on a Yukon tributary exposed her to the exciting wilderness in Alaska and new species like arctic grayling not to mention improving her skills on the oars.
Camping each night in view of eagle nests with moose sign in camp and bear tracks on the beach was an experience she will never forget. Also learning that grayling liked her secret hand tied ant pattern as much as Colorado cutthroat somehow brought the experience full circle. Experiencing the wild public lands of Alaska broadened her appreciation for the amazing resources we have in this country.
Although Leslie is a lifelong angler, hunting wasn’t an activity she was exposed to until earning her Hunter Education certificate in 2013. She fondly remembers being the only student in the class without a chaperone as well as the only one able to drive herself there. Even though she was now legal to hunt in Colorado, with no experience or mentor to teach her about hunting she didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, Colorado Parks and Wildlife hosts a women’s outreach program and she was invited on a mentored hunt for a doe pronghorn antelope.
After an exhilarating two days of chasing antelope in northwest Colorado, a shot from her .30-06 filled her first tag and changed her life forever. The experience not only ignited a passion for hunting and the harvest of her own wild game meat, but also gave her a deep appreciation for the importance of mentorship in our hunting community. She hunts elk every year in western Colorado and enjoys duck and goose hunting along with upland bird hunting in several western states.
Today Leslie is grateful to reside in Montrose, Colorado, with her boyfriend Dan and their two rowdy yellow labs. The time they spend together in the outdoors feed her obsessions for geology, wild game, wild fish and wild rivers. She is also grateful to Dan for introducing her to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers with a gift membership. She is proud to be a public landowner and help bring BHA’s message of public land awareness to her community and beyond.
“The addition of Elena and Leslie to the Colorado BHA Chapter Leadership Team brings our group of chapter leaders to 38 boots on the ground hunter-angler-conservationists deeply committed to protecting and perpetuating our wild public lands, waters and wildlife across Colorado and the country,” said Colorado BHA co-chair David Lien (a former Air Force officer). “We are lucky to be the beneficiaries of their committed leadership and ongoing contributions to protecting and perpetuating our great public lands estate.”
The Colorado BHA Chapter currently has nine Groups: Boulder County, Northern Colorado, Denver Metro Area, Southeast Colorado, Central Rockies, Gunnison County, Southeast Colorado, Western Colorado and Northwestern Colorado. For additional information see: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/group_leaders
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 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.
 Katie McKalip. “BHA Members Reject Political Labels, Unite Around Conservation: BHA membership is young, politically diverse, active public lands users, new demographic survey reveals.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 10/3/19. https://www.backcountryhunters.org/bha_members_reject_political_labels_unite_around_conservation