Sam was born and raised in Swartz Creek, Michigan, just west of Flint. “My father started me in the direction of hunting and fishing,” he says. “My father and older brother were big mentors for me. I started fishing for panfish and graduated to bird hunting. Where we grew up fishing was cheap entertainment and we did a lot of it.”
He moved to Colorado during July 2017 and started out with a solo archery elk hunt with plans for adding mule deer, pronghorn and bear to the list. “I also try to make it back to Michigan to hunt whitetails every year and do a lot of fly-fishing all over Colorado,” he added. Sam has a criminal justice degree, but grew up working construction. He has continued working in the construction field in Colorado with plans to start his own business.
Sam hasn’t done much small game hunting since moving to Colorado, but definitely plans to start again. “I used to do pheasant hunting, duck hunting and squirrel hunting,” he said. “I fish for about anything. I most enjoy hunting any of the grouse species.” Sam was married during August 2018, “to an amazing woman who allows me to do all the hunting and fishing I like to do,” he adds. They live in Lakewood.
“I’ve volunteered with both Drew and Sam for more than a year now,” said Colorado BHA Front Range Sponsor-Events Coordinator, Russell Bassett (a U.S. Army veteran). “Drew organized the Crazy Mountain Pint Night this summer, and did a great job, and both have been volunteering at most every BHA event in the area for some time now. Denver’s population base has a lot of potential to grow BHA’s membership and power, and these are the right guys to take us to the next level here. They have proven they are ready for more responsibility. Plus they are just good dudes.”
Kassi was born on the west coast of Washington and spent every summer on her grandparent’s farm in eastern Washington. She started fishing and shooting as a kid, then backpacking as an undergraduate in eastern Washington, and started hunting after moving to Idaho for graduate school. Kassi has a doctorate degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Boise State University.
She started hunting with her boyfriend, now husband, and said, “We will generally go out at least once per year casually for each small-game species, but big game is where the action is.” She hunts with a rifle, but is “attempting to hunt trad.” Kassi also enjoys fly-fishing for trout in alpine lakes or streams/rivers, but when time is short she’ll throw spinners out in local reservoirs. She joined BHA during 2015, started volunteering in Idaho and currently lives in Lafayette, Colorado.
Ryan was born and raised in Colorado, growing up exploring local creeks and ponds out his back door, and later the vast public lands of the Rocky Mountains. He learned to fly fish on a neighborhood pond that was full of bass and began hunting with his grandfather in Texas when he was 4 years old. Later, he joined his dad and granddad on elk and mule deer hunting trips.
“My grandfather was my hunting mentor,” Ryan says. “He ‘retired’ from elk hunting a few years ago, but at 92 years old he continues to hunt deer every year near his home in Texas. Now I usually hunt with my dad and with a few good hunting buddies.” Ryan went to Seattle Pacific University where he studied journalism and found a job writing for Fish & Fly Magazine. After college he went into corporate communications and his career eventually evolved toward PR and marketing. In 2013 he launched a business serving hunting and fly fishing outfitters, Peak Outfitter Marketing.
Today Ryan primarily hunts Colorado’s vast public lands, but has also been on hunting trips in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana and British Columbia. He hunts big game—primarily elk, mule deer and antelope—and drew a Colorado bighorn tag in 2010, harvesting a nice ram.
“I’ve hunted big game with a rifle, a muzzleloader and a compound bow,” he says. “My perfect season is hunting bugling elk with a bow or muzzleloader in September, spot-and-stalk antelope in October, and then mule deer with a rifle in November.”
Ryan also does some waterfowl hunting, along with small and upland game, but says, “With two small kids at home, I have to be more selective about my hobbies these days!” And one of the perfect hobbies for kids is fishing. “I fish for everything,” he adds, “from bass and carp in the Denver area, to cutthroat trout at remote lakes above timberline, and everything in between. But my favorite fishing now is on remote rivers and lakes. I love exploring wilderness waters where a little bit of distance removes most of the fishing pressure.”
Ryan lives in Littleton with his wife, Kelly. They have a six-year-old son, Nolan, and a four-year-old daughter, Clara. “With a vegetable garden and a freezer full of wild game, we enjoy hosting friends for meals, being involved at our church, and living the field-to-table lifestyle as much as we can,” he says.
Russell Bassett is a U.S. Army veteran and was born in the Panama Canal Zone when it was a U.S. territory. He was raised in Missouri and Nebraska, shipped all over the country and world by the Army (including a tour in Iraq, following in the footsteps of his father, who served in Korea), then spent ten years in Oregon before moving to Colorado, during 2014, to be near family in western Nebraska.
“I’ve fished since I was old enough to hold a rod, and hunted since I got my first BB gun in elementary school,” Russ said. He was a journalist during his eight years in the military—and worked for a community newspaper in Oregon—half of which was active duty and the other half in the Oregon National Guard. Russ has also worked for conservation nonprofits with a focus on fish habitat and sporting opportunity, including as executive director of the Northwest Steelheaders.
“While in Oregon, my passion was salmon and steelhead fishing, also off shore bottom fish, tuna and crabbing,” he said. In Colorado, Russ focuses on high alpine lake and stream fishing year-round on the fly and through the ice, as well as duck, goose, turkey, pheasant and dove hunting. “I mostly target trout on the fly, but will use gear and even bait if that’s what works. I am duck hunting most weekends during the season and ice fish during the winter months.”
Although Russ didn’t learn to hunt and fish via family, he’s had plenty of hunting and fishing buddies over the years, adding: “Right now, I’d say the friends I’ve met through BHA are my mentors. They are a wealth of knowledge that I learn a lot from.” He lives in Denver and is the Membership and Projects Specialist at the Colorado Press Association & SYNC2 Media. Russ also started Colorado BHA’s “Hike to Hunt and Fish” (H2HF) program, which facilitates group hunting/fishing (and other) backcountry activities for Colorado’s Front Range BHA members.
“When I was in Iraq, it was memories of fishing our public lands and looking forward to doing so again that kept me going,” Russ said. “It’s an honor to serve with other BHA members in protecting and enhancing the wild places and wildlife that bring me so much peace and happiness.” Russ has served as the Colorado BHA Front Range Sponsor/Events Coordinator since December 2017 and was recognized as BHA’s Member of the Month for February 2018.
Brad is an avid fly-fisherman, hunter and owner of Brad Nicol Photography and Angler Images (www.bradnicolphotography.com). He’s also a BHA Life Member and Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteer for the Routt National Forest. Brad lives in Denver with his wife and three dogs.