Kurt Ratzlaff, Chairman
Kurt was born on the plains of Colorado and grew up in his father’s small-town meat processing shop helping work up beef, pork, sheep, goats, deer, elk, moose, bear, and anything else that folks would drop off. Luckily, the mountains were close enough that by age 16 he was solo backpacking and fishing in the Rockies. His passion for hiking and backpacking has now taken him from northern Montana and Minnesota to southern New Mexico, and from the Appalachian Trail to the Sierras and the Hawaiian Islands. But as a kid, hunting mainly meant chasing rabbits and fishing usually involved carp. His future father-in-law introduced hunting for pheasant and quail behind bird dogs in Kansas and the Sunflower State became home. Now almost forty years later, everyone who hunts birds with Kurt, his wife, Michelle, and their setters wonder why he can’t hit more birds after all these years of practice. In the meat shop, the smell of venison became overwhelming. But maturity changes things and now venison has risen to its rightful spot as the meat of choice in the Ratzlaffhousehold. Unfortunately, chasing big game on public lands in several states has not greatly improved his shooting percentage. Kurt and Michelle enjoy a much higher success rate when they aim for National Parks, Monuments and Wilderness areas. They love to introduce family and friends to our public lands and The Great Outdoors.
Kurt recently retired from the legal profession and now works to improve his shooting percentage.
Cody Kiser, Treasurer
Cody has been hunting and fishing for as long as he can remember. He grew up hunting mostly whitetail and turkeys, with some upland birds mixed in. Here in Kansas there is not much public land, and Cody never thought much about it. That is, until he started looking to expand his hunting adventures out west. Cody began to realize what a huge benefit public land and water was, and how it always seemed to be under attack. He decided that he needed to get involved and try to do his part to make sure that public land and water access is something that remains available for future generations.
Cody Hauschel, Secretary
Cody Hauschel’s first hunting experiences were pursuing upland birds with his father and brother at the early age of seven and he had been fishing for a few years before that. Even at such a young age, there was passion that developed in Cody that drove him to be outdoors in search of the next adventure he could find in the woods and fields of the Midwest. Cody has had the opportunity to live in several different states across the Midwest and has called North Central Kansas home now for the last 10 years. Throughout the different states Cody has lived in, he has always relied heavily on public land and waters to get his hunting and fishing fix. Protecting the future, security, and growth of public access across Kansas and the Midwest is a priority to Cody, in hopes that other people can have the same rich experiences as he has been able to enjoy.
Currently, Cody works in the agricultural industry and farms with his family. Living in a rural setting is something Cody enjoys because he is only a few moments away from the nearest piece of Walk-In for his next hunting adventure. Hunting has evolved and expanded for him and now Cody pursues deer, pheasant, quail, ducks, geese, turkey, and other furry small game in Kansas. Hunting in the mountains has become his recent addiction and now he enjoys spending time each September chasing the bugles of bull elk. With goals of hunting a new western species each year, Cody hopes to leave many more boot prints across the public land landscape for many years to come.
Jeffrey started his passion for the outdoors through his grandfather, generally hunting the open prairie and farm fields of Kansas for Mr. Bobwhite behind fantastic dogs or fishing anything from farm ponds to the Kenai River. As an avid upland hunter, he fervently hunts upland game behind his beloved Llewellin, Stella, anywhere he can afford the time and money to go. These adventures have taken him from the fields of Montana to the deserts of Arizona and everything between, but there’s no place like home.If upland hunting wasn’t enough, along the way he picked up big game hunting … and a second mortgage.Those adventures have taken him to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, and of course Kansas whitetails. You would think with all that experience he would have written a big game recipe book by now, but that would require more than limited success. Gamedaywith him is buried with his roots in upland hunting behind a dog and simply being in pursuit, with or without success. All of these adventures have taken place on public land and now preserving these lands has become an unrelenting passion for him.
Jeffrey lives in Manhattan, Kansas with his awesome, beautiful, forgiving, and understanding wife Jennifer and their two kids Belle and Dash, who also go on these adventures when possible (skipping school for hunting and fishing is OK in the Hancock house). Jeffrey is an engineer and owns a successful civil engineering and land surveying company in Manhattan.
Marshal has had a passion for the outdoors and natural resources from a young age. Originally from western Iowa, he grew up hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, and camping. Marshal attended Iowa State University and majored in Animal Ecology, with a concentration in wildlife management to pursue his passion for wildlife and natural resources.
Today Marshal lives in De Soto, KS working for Land O Lakes as a Master Research Specialist. He enjoys hunting and fishing on public lands throughout Kansas as well as other western states.
Marshal joined Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in 2016 because of his passion for public land and water access. His eyes were opened to the many issues surrounding public lands and waters after hunting in some western states. Since then he has been passionate about preserving public lands, wildlife, and access to them. He wants to ensure his children and all Americans have access to as many quality opportunities to experience wild places as he has had.
Matthew Clay is a junior high and high school science teacher in Ness City, Kansas and a doctoral candidate in education through the University of Northern Colorado. In his time as a teacher, he has developed several courses and programs to get students in the outdoors. What started three years ago as a summer course that ended with a camping trip to Rocky Mountain National Park has expanded to two separate summer courses, geology and ecology, each with their own camping trip in RMNP, both of which are open to students from two school districts. In his doctoral studies, Matt is interested in understanding how people form connections to their communities and landscapes and how those connections impact their perspectives and actions. He has presented across the country on impacts of getting students in the outdoors.
Outside of his teaching, Matt enjoys scaring upland birds around his Western Kansas home and participating in trail and ultramarathon races. He lives in Dighton with his wife, two young sons, and dogs. He sees the importance of public lands and BHA as an incredible tool for equity in ensuring that all children have the opportunity to have meaningful experiences in the outdoors. He is pictured with four students on the summit of Flattop Mountain in RMNP.
Tony was born and raised in East-Central Kansas. He was introduced to the outdoors at an early age through fishing and tagging along on rabbit and quail hunting trips with his father and grandfather as well as “helping” grandpa on the farm. His interest in hunting and the outdoors continued to grow through hunting and fishing experiences with friends and family vacations to the mountains. Tony spent many days hunting quail, waterfowl, and turkeys on the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge and around MelvernLake as well as occasionally going to western Kansas to chase pheasants on public and walk-in access hunting ground. In college he started archery hunting for turkeys, which led to deer hunting and eventually elk and antelope. Tony fell in love with archery elk hunting in 2007 and has gone as often as he can ever since.
Tony now works as civil engineer and lives with his wife and 3 kids just south of Topeka. Their family is very outdoors oriented. Beyond hunting and fishing (well, at least the boys and him like fishing), they enjoy skiing, biking, hiking, paddling, and a wide verity of other outdoor activities. Their family loves taking outdoor trips to see and experience the great beauty and adventure that mother nature has to offer to anyone that is willing to get out and make the effort to go see on our public lands.
Tony’s experiences have given him a great appreciation for the value that our public lands and adequate access to our public lands provide. He believes that we need to do whatever we can to ensure that we, our children, and our grandchildren continue to have the opportunity to experience and enjoy everything these lands offer.
Michael grew up in southeast Kansas on a small cattle operation where he learned to hunt, fish, and appreciate the value of the outdoors. Camping and fishing a branch of the Verdigris river was a favorite past time. After moving to attend college, he had to turn to public land to continue the pursuit of hunting and fishing. He is a generalist who will hunt anything given the opportunity, but especially loves hunting for turkey, deer, and coyotes. As he got older, he realized the importance of preserving public lands and being a steward of the land. Seeking out like minded people, he joined BHA and now serves as a board member and the R3 coordinator.
“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”Theodore Roosevelt
While Roosevelt may have been provocative in his own right, Josh Nicolay wholeheartedly embraces the principle that our nation’s spectacular natural heritage is an asset to be appreciated by the present and preserved for the future. A Kansas native growing up in Wichita, Josh’s first true outdoor experience did not occur until his early twenties and now he’s making up for lost time. As often as possible, Josh satisfies his passion for the outdoors through a wide variety of activities, including hunting, fishing, backpacking, and cross-country skiing (although upland bird hunting is his first love).
As a professional, Josh is an attorney with specialized focus on real property and energy development in rural Kansas. His work experience has not only provided him direct experience with the mechanics of public land and watercourse ownership, it has also deepened his appreciation for what’s truly at stake in the struggle for maintaining these resources.
Josh and his wife Kandace (who also shares his passion for the outdoors) reside in Pratt, Kansas with their three children.
Gabriel is a Kansas native. Born and raised in Southeast Kansas outside the town of Erie, his youngest memories are of the outdoors going along with his dad to run a trap line and putting up furs. As he grew older, western big game hunting began to consume all of his free time. This is where the value of public lands and waters became such an integral part of his life. He has been a BHA member for the last five years. He can often be found in the far west part of Kansas scouting, hunting and obsessing over mule deer, whitetail and antelope. Gabriel works in the medical field and lives in Wichita with his wife Anna and their daughter Olivia. He has made it a point to take as many people hunting every season as he can, whether this is adult-onset hunters that have accompanied him on his hunts out west or kids through the Outdoor Mentors organization. The future of public lands begins with the new generation that appreciates its real value and is willing to stand up for it
Jedediah Reece is a husband, father, hunter, fisher, and optometrist. In his professional life every day he gets to tell parents to take their kids outside due to the studies that show a decrease in progression of myopia (near-sightedness) corresponding to being outside! He grew up hunting and fishing in the great state of Kansas. As a toddler, his father would take him hunting and fishing, and he is now doing the same with his son, even if it’s for only 20 minutes due to his patience. He is 1/4th Muscogee (Creek) nation, which he likes to think helps him feel a deep connection to the outdoors.
He never realized how important public lands were until he started following the big names and organizations of today’s voices for public lands. Jed has been reaping the benefits of those lands for years without knowing and appreciating how they came into existence. Now that he has 2 kids with his beautiful wife, he wants to make sure that they will have the same or better opportunities on public land that he had when they grow up. He and his father have enjoyed taking his young nephew out for hunting deer, pheasant, quail, rabbits, and squirrels these past couple years now that he’s proficient and safe with a gun. He’s volunteered for Pass It On Outdoor Mentors, which helps get kids and teenagers acquainted with hunting. He has also volunteered at a few events in the past with the Flatlanders Fly Fishing club that focused on taking kids fishing and teaching them how to tie a fly. He enjoys going to BHA pint nights and other events here in his hometown of Wichita He’s looking forward to making Kansas BHA chapter a bigger name in the Kansas outdoor community and passing on the tradition of enjoying the public lands and waters that we have in the USA.