Neil Summers, Chairman
Neil is one of the founding board members of the Indiana BHA chapter. His main reason for joining is because his roots are strongly planted in the National Forest and as such has a deep respect for our public lands. He also wants his son, Wyatt, to have the same, if not more opportunities than he had to foster his enthusiasm for the great outdoors.
Ben Stout, Treasurer
Ben was raised in Northeast Indiana and was fortunate to be introduced to the outdoors by his father at an early age through hunting, fishing, camping, and mushroom hunting. Most of these memories were made on public lands without any second thought toward how or why we could use them.
Now as an adult, and with a few Western hunts under his belt, he has a deeper understanding and appreciation of public lands and desires to help maintain and expand them for continued opportunities. This, along with meeting other like-minded people, led him to join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and help start the proposed Indiana chapter.
Ben currently resides in Fort Wayne and works in Huntington as a Manufacturing Engineer, leading many continuous improvement projects. He also is a Certified Energy Manager and leads energy reduction projects as an extracurricular role at his work. Ben is a founding Board Member of the Indiana BHA chapter and also a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Association of Energy Engineers.
Matt Mitchell, Secretary
Like a lot of folks, I was introduced to hunting through my dad. During my first trips, I wasn’t even permitted to carry a gun. I simply wore blaze orange and acted as a bird dog for my dad and uncles kicking brush in an attempt to flush quail. Weapon or not, I was hooked from the first time I saw a quail flush. From there, I spent many years walking fencerows and woodlots of Southern Illinois with my dad before we started to realize there were more deer than quail around. From there, we took up deer hunting together and never looked back. Fast forward to today and I still hunt those same fencerows and woodlots of Southern Illinois for deer, turkeys and coyotes but as an Indiana resident.
I was strictly a private land hunter until 2014, when I went on my first public land elk hunt in Colorado. We barely even saw an elk, but I was hooked. It was on this trip that I was first introduced to BHA from some Colorado locals. Soon after returning home, I joined BHA.
Trips west have become an annual affair. But once a year wasn’t enough and I found myself yearning for more adventure hunts. Knowing my time limitations, I wanted something closer to home. Being an hour away, Hoosier National Forest has sat under my nose for my whole life without me acknowledging its presence. It only made sense to start there.
In 2018, two close friends and I set out on our first public land turkey hunt. On that trip, we were able to take one bird but most of all I realized just how important these places are. Having been strictly a private land hunter (and I still primarily am), I was stoked to go out, buy a cheap tag, grab some camping gear, drive up the interstate into some public land, and roam for miles and miles without worry of property lines. It was a week after this trip that I realized while Indiana may not have the vast tracks of public land as some western states, we still have placesthat we can hunt, fish, camp and explore on that are certainly worth fighting for. Because of this, I began calling and emailing BHA pretty regularly to start a chapter in Indiana.
I currently reside in Evansville, Indiana with my wife Jessica and son Leo. I work for Escalade Sports in Digital Marketing.
Mark Back was born and raised in Crown Point, Indiana. He has been an outdoorsman his entire life and grew up fishing with his grandfather. Mark learned to hunt on public land in Indiana and does most of his hunting on public land today. He now lives in Zionsville with his wife, Katie, and their dog, Nali.
Mark attended Purdue University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in health sciences and went on to receive his Master of Public Health (MPH) in health policy and management from Indiana University. After school, he served as executive director of a nonprofit that conducted medical missions to rural Haiti. He then worked for the Lake County, Indiana Sheriff’s Department as director of public relations and health care services.
Today, Mark oversees media and public relations for Indiana Donor Network and serves as the primary public spokesperson for the organization. He volunteers on the board of directors for the proposed Indiana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and as a committee member for the Public Relations Society of America, Hoosier Chapter. Mark is a lifetime member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. When he’s not working, he’s doing something on public lands and waters.
A northern Michigan native, Brian Ford was raised in the outdoors. He spent much of his childhood with friends and his father exploring, hunting and fishing state lands in and around Houghton Lake, Michigan. In Brian’s early teens, his family relocated to Angola, Indiana, in the northeastern part of the state, where he soon learned the true value of public lands and the lack thereof in Indiana.
Since then, he has made it his obligation to not only take advantage of the public land opportunities available to him but to make it his responsibility to care for it as well. With years of clean up and volunteer work along with habitat management and bringing new hunters and anglers into the fold, he feels now more than ever that our heritage and resources need protection and expansion. At 29 years old, this husband and father of a 1-year-old cannot wait to share the spirit of the wild with his son and others.
I was born and raised in Central Indiana. My first memories of hunting were formed during Wisconsin gun deer season when I was 12. I had begged my dad to take me up to Kraus deer camp for several years, and after I completed my hunter safety course and got my grandfather's blessing, my father obliged. Ever since my first season spent in the woods with my father, grandfather, uncles and cousins I knew this was going to be an annual staple of my existence.
Since that day I have devoted my life to the outdoors and conserving the outdoor way of life.
I went on to pursue an Associates of Applied Science in Conservation Law Enforcement from Vincennes University and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. I look forward to serving BHA and furthering our mission throughout the Hoosier State.
I am 32 years old and currently reside in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have an associate degree in respiratory care and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision from Purdue University. I am married with two children. I currently work as a respiratory therapist in a local healthcare facility.
My love of the outdoors was instilled in me by my maternal grandfather and uncles. Public lands and waters were the canvas upon which those memories were made. My reason behind joining BHA is pretty simple. I am worried about what will be left for my children and grandchildren. I want them to be able to experience the adventures and memories I made and continue to make on our public lands and waters. A world without public lands doesn’t bode well for the future of American sustainability. BHA’s mission to preserve and protect public lands, waters and wildlife is paramount for the future of all the things we love about the great outdoors.
Raised in rural west central Indiana, Sam Shoaf was introduced to the outdoors at a young age. Deer and small game hunting with his father were the catalyst to a lifelong interest in the natural world.
Sam went to Purdue University and studied wildlife biology. There, he learned the ecology and management of ecosystems. From there, Sam moved to Bloomington, Indiana, and started his career in ecological restoration. He now works at Eco Logic LLC in Bloomington and has been able to work on many of our public lands managed by local, state, and federal agencies. Strengthening a sense of ownership and responsibility for these places.
Along with his daily work, several elk hunting trips to the vast public estate of the western United States has opened his eyes to the treasure that we all own and encouraged him to get involved in making sure public spaces are available for wildlife and people. Sam is also on a committee member for the Bloomington chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Growing up in Seymour, Indiana certainly had its benefits, and I count hunting and fishing opportunities as one of the greatest benefits. My father, like many, got my two brothers and I started early with BB guns, shooting aluminum cans very early on. The weekly family traditions included school, sports, and church, but it also ended with a Sunday evening drive through Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge while the sun would set.
We would try to see how many animals we could find before it got too dark. Sometimes we even made the evening drive through the refuge with a Dairy Queen treat. My parents had a real love for the outdoors and wildlife, and they took the time to share that love with us whenever they could.
My first hunting experiences in Indiana were dove hunts with my dad and brothers by the railroad tracks behind our house. I spent most of those days being my Dad and older brothers bird dog, retrieving birds they hit. I wasn’t the best of shots, but after figuring out that I was cross dominant (right handed, but left eye dominant) I could easily hang with them. My mom is the one that actually taught us boys to fish because my dad lost his patience tying all of our rods up and then ripping our snags out of trees every 15 seconds. As we entered High School, we got very busy with sports, and hunting opportunities were fewer and further between. But whenever football ended, we were in a tree stand on private ground. My uncle would let us hunt on his property, but his good friend Brad Herndon gave us copies of his book called Mapping Trophy Bucks. This book was instrumental for me in learning more about deer hunting, but more importantly, learning more about the land, and the opportunities that existed on public land.
After graduating from Ball State with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science, I joined the working world, and finally had more time to hunt. My dad, my brother, and I have been enjoying taking every opportunity to hunt all the dream animals and locations we always wanted to hunt when we were younger. My brother lives in Arizona, so we’ve taken many trips out west to hunt javalina, quail, mule deer, and my brother has taken a few elk. My current interests are upland game hunting as I’ve joined the Indiana Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and manage their social media pages. I hope to one day hunt ruffed grouse in Indiana because I think that would be a great conservation success. I also am a taxidermist doing mostly European deer mounts, turkey fans, and skull work. Hunting has always been a family tradition for my family and me. My wife and I now also enjoy getting her boys into the outdoors and away from devices whenever possible. I believe in preserving not just Indiana’s wild places and waters, but all wild places and waters. As I’ve grown and have had the opportunity to enjoy the various hunting privileges we enjoy here in the U.S., I am 100 percent positive that I want those places to be here for the next generation. That is why I am a member of the proposed Indiana Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
Cindy, 42, grew up near Crawfordsville, Indiana, fishing, camping, and spending nearly every minute outdoors, but wasn’t exposed to hunting until she was 36 years old. She started out hunting white-tailed deer on private land near where she lived, and then went on to hunt mule deer on public land for the first time a few years later in Wyoming. Once exposed to hunting, and then hunting on public land, she realized that this wasn’t something of a hobby, but rather a passion that will last the rest of her life. Hunter recruitment is a focus for Cindy. She wants to give as many people as possible, the opportunity to experience the outdoors, because she knows from experience how much it can change a person’s life. Public land is a crucial part of getting new hunters in the field.
In addition to BHA, Cindy volunteers both as an Indiana Hunter Education Instructor, an Indiana 4-H Shooting Sports Certified Archery Instructor, and a NASP Basic Archery Instructor. She can proudly say that she is a 2% for Conservation Regional Committee Member and a sustaining member of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. She currently resides near Danville, Indiana with her partner Chance, his daughter, Cianni, and their Catahoula, Ady. Cindy is an ISA Certified Arborist and works as the Operations Manager of Commercial Landscape Construction, for Engledow Group, in Indianapolis.
Born and raised in north-central Indiana, Kevin did not have much experience, knowledge, or accessibility to public land in Indiana. Kevin was not raised in a hunting and fishing family but was born with a God-given desire to explore and experience the natural world. This led Kevin to teach himself to hunt and fish as a means of expanding his knowledge of the outdoors.
The love of hunting and fishing then led him to explore the public lands of the Western states and Alaska. It wasn't until Kevin was in his 20s that he realized the incredible value of our public land system that provides land and water for all citizens to explore and a place where habitat is valued over financial gain. To the protection and expansion of wild public lands and the freedom to explore and enjoy these lands for the present and future generations is why Kevin is a member of BHA. Kevin is 34 and resides in Nappanee with his wife and three children. He is a member of the Nappanee Conservation Club and manages R. Yoder Construction, Inc.
I was born and raised in Portage, Indiana and currently live in Chesterton, Indiana. I began hunting with my father and grandfather tagging along on their pheasant hunting trips. These family hunting trips continue to this day. After college and a few years in the working world, hunting and being outdoors became much more than a hobby. The opportunity to explore and provide for your family on public lands completely changed the way I view hunting. I joined the BHA to ensure that others can have the same opportunity and experiences that I have had if they choose to do so.