Stefan Flagg, Chair
I was born and raised in mountains of Eastern Kentucky. My Dad and I had a shared love of fishing and we traveled around the region together in pursuit of bass. My first exposure to public lands came while attending Morehead State University that sits at the northern end of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The ability to walk from your dorm room and connect to the Sheltowee Trace trail was life changing. It was during this time that I met my first deer hunters and made my first few failed attempts at hunting. It was not until a decade later that I made another attempt at hunting and found it to be both challenging and relaxing. As my interests expanded from deer to turkey, like many others, I developed a goal of traveling west to hunt elk. In 2016, I made my first trip to Colorado and was lucky enough to harvest a cow elk. This trip changed my idea of what America is what it means to be an American. I returned home and joined BHA with a goal of helping to establish a chapter in Kentucky to ensure that future generations have the opportunities afforded to me. I am a member of other conservation organizations, but I have found the membership and the mission of BHA to be the most aligned with my own goals and I am fully committed to our success.
Nick Hart, Vice Chair
A first-generation Kentuckian, Nick Hart is an Environmental Health Manager for Louisville Metro Government. Formerly, he was employed with Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control in the enforcement division, and worked with the Louisville Legal Aid Society prior to that. For 10 years Nick was a raft guide on the New and Gauley rivers, and continues to seek out adventure on public lands and water. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, his hometown.
My family did not hunt and fish, but they gave me the gift of the outdoors. A friend gifted me a rod and reel for college graduation, and taught me how to fish. My wife’s family gave me the gift of the hunt. Like the community who has shared their time, patience, and knowledge with me, I hope to help foster the since of community BHA members share in celebrating the fellowship of the outdoors.
Griff Baute, Secretary
I am a proud native Central Kentuckian, born/raised, that can trace my Kentucky roots back to the Native Americans that lived here originally. My Dad taught my sister and me to fish and target/trap shoot. I had an uncle and cousin to take me hunting at times, because my immediate family did not. I got involved with Scouting, then later in life leadership positions in mountain biking, cycling and triathlon clubs. I quit hunting when I was 15 due to not being ready to witness a processor field dress my deer in front of my eyes at my Dad’s insistence, however later in life I found I loved my best friend’s venison summer sausage. I kept stealing it out of his freezer until he convinced me it was time to start hunting again to have my own venison summer sausage to eat instead of his.
I strongly believe like all my fellow KY-BHA members that the greatest thing we can do is pass all of our outdoors legacy and traditions down to beginner adults and children everywhere. To this end, I am Life Member/Officer in many outdoors groups, am a Hunter/Bow Hunter Education Instructor, and a middle school archery coach. Being outside, I always find serenity in the beauty of nature and in God’s creatures to the point it touches my soul. I feel, like many of my fellow outdoor brothers/sisters, that it is therapy for the soul every time you can get outside to hunt, fish, hike, target shoot or just do anything outdoors at all.
Grant McAlister, Treasurer
I grew up on the shores of Lake Cumberland, where I learned to fish and hunt on our nearby public land, Daniel Boone National Forest. During my high school years, I joined our high school’s conservation organization, which was heavily devoted to the maintenance and improvement of our area’s public resources. This passion for service has grown into a long lasting support for various organizations which promote and protect our hunting and fishing heritage as well as conservation of our public lands, its access, and its improvement. I found out about BHA a few years ago and quickly pledged my financial support as a life member, but longing to do so much more. After bugging so many of the staff, I finally was introduced to the group who would become the founding crew of Kentucky Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
When not volunteering or working, I spend my spare time hunting, fishing, and training my stubborn wirehaired pointer, Greta. My wife, who shares my passion for all things outdoors and conservation, and I live in Bowling Green.
Colonel (Retired) Michael A. Abell, Event Coordinator
I was born and raised in metro Washington D.C. in the 1970s, which was a real treat, but thankfully I got to spend summers with my Grandfathers in the rural areas of western Maryland, southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee. I graduated with a college degree in Biology and intended to become a game warden. A twist of fate landed me in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer. I loved serving my Nation and was fortunate enough to serve all over the world, in peace and in combat. The Army also allowed me time to earn multiple postgraduate diplomas, the last of which is a Master’s of Strategic Studies. After 26 years of total service, it was time to hang up my jump boots and put on my hunting boots. Now I am a freelance writer, hunter, fisher, gatherer, competitive archer and advocate for improving the future of my fellow sportsmen and women in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. My wife Aline and I are both BHA life members. We have hunted and/or fished public lands and waters all over the lower 48, Alaska and Hawaii. Those wild public places are a national treasure. They must be retained or improved for future generations. We intended to see that it happens.
Paul Skees, 1st District Director
I first followed my dad afield on a rabbit hunt with our Beagle hounds at age five. That same year I lost the vision in my left eye. Yet, my parents encouraged me to continue enjoying hunting and the outdoors. After my son’s birth, my perspective changed. Although I had been primarily hunting public land since childhood, I had largely taken them for granted. I came to the realization that public lands are an American birthright and hold a position of prominence in what is a uniquely American experience.
I am a sixth-generation Kentuckian and a lifelong houndsman. I live in Paducah with my soulmate, Liza and our two sons, Brody and Nao and a pack of hunting hounds. I have a Master of Science in Organizational Communication and work as a Database Marketing Administrator in the casino gaming industry. I joined BHA in 2016 because their public lands mission, values and goals mirror my own.
Nathan Kunze, 2nd District Director
I was born and raised in Daviess County and live there today with my wife and three young children. I grew up fishing in farm ponds with my grandfather but did not start hunting until my twenties. I enjoy deer and turkey hunting every year but my favorite activity these days is taking overnight canoe & camping trips with my kids on the Green River.
I joined BHA several years ago because I believe in their mission of protecting our public lands and waters. We are blessed to have so many opportunities to experience the outdoors in Kentucky and I want to be a part of preserving that for future generations.
Dan Douglas, 3rd District Director
I began learning what conservation meant as a young kid. I was raised in a somewhat rural area just South of Louisville, KY, and used public land in and around Cedar Creek and McNeely Lake almost every day. A local development (golf course) created a tremendous impact to the
area with a massive fish kill, loss of habitat, and introduction of large volumes of people entering the area that had been untouched by man other than agriculture areas up to that point in my life. The restitution the developers were forced to implement by KDFWR after the fish kill frustrated me (they were forced to restock the lake and creek, but not given any species requirements. They stocked with gizzard shad which quickly overtook the lake and KDF
WR had to perform their own mitigation to remove them) and I could not comprehend how things like that were allowed to happen.
I grew up fishing and hunting rabbit and squirrels. We regularly struggled to find public land available in the
region and when we did, it was not typically the successful hunting my papaw and uncles often talked about. They had been from Eastern Kentucky originally where the public land was more abundant and had less pressure.
A few years back I took my first trip to hunt public land in the Rocky Mountains. I did an elk hunt in the Red Deer River area in Alberta, Canada. While it was a successful hunt, I also paid attention to the development in the area- even as remote as that is- that seemed like it was creeping into the preserve. Locals were allowed to run cattle in the area, “wild” horses were rampant which actually turned out to be livestock that local ranchers had turned out into the preserve when they could no longer afford to feed them, and utility cuts were there in a few places. Seeing public land, even that remote, being impacted again made me worry that more needs to be done to keep wild places wild.
When my son was born, I started thinking more big picture when I tried to envision what our public land would look like for him and his kids in the future, and I decided to try to take a larger role in conservation.
Ben Bishop, 4th District Director
My name is Ben Bishop. I grew up and still reside in central Kentucky. From the time I was able
to accompany my dad in the field, I was hooked on all things outdoors. Hunting and fishing every chance that I had. Up until a few years ago, I had always hunted on private land. My first experience hunting on public land was a black bear hunt in the southeastern portion of the state. I was in shear awe of this pristine land. Though I was unsuccessful in my attempt at a bear, I had found something new that I could try to help preserve and maintain. Now to this day I enjoy all sorts of hunting from squirrel and rabbit, to ducks and geese on our public lands. In addition, I am always in search for more adventures that they hold.
Zane Williams, 5th District Director
I was born and raised in Madison, Indiana along the Ohio River. I recently moved to Covington, Kentucky and have always loved the outdoors!
I grew up with Clifty Falls State Park (one of the best state parks in Indiana) in my backyard and every summer as a kid would spend my days roaming through the park. My grandparents are from eastern Kentucky and I spent weekends on the lakes of Kentucky fishing on my grandfather’s bass boat. My grandfather taught me how to fish and hunt small game but it wasn’t until I was 16 when I bought my first bow that my obsession with deer hunting started. A year later, the private land I hunted was sold and this was when I first discovered “public land”. Public land opened up so many doors for me; I learned what hunting truly was. I work in the powersports industry for SuperATV as a sales representative covering all of Kentucky. This jobs allows me to drive every inch of the beautiful Bluegrass state and work directly with people who enjoy the woods as much as I do. My favorite part about public land is no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you have, it is your land and we all have to work together to keep it!
Pete Ralston, 6th District Director
I was born and raised in central Kentucky. I still reside here with my wife Michelle and my two daughters. I am currently on active duty for Kentucky National Guard. My earliest memories of the outdoors were fishing trips with my dad to Shelbyville Lake. As a teenager, every weekend was spent on Lake Cumberland with family. In my early 20’s, some friends introduced me to turkey hunting on the local public lands. I was instantly obsessed with the outdoors, and I soon started deer hunting in addition to turkey hunting. Life, work, and family pulled me away from hunting, but we were able to continue our weekend family trips to lake Cumberland. Fast forward 20 years, and I was able to spark my hunting and fishing passion again thanks to my wife Michelle.
I found Backcountry Hunters and Anglers through some friends and social media. I was looking for an outlet to be involved with the outdoors that was more than just paying dues and raising money for a banquet. I love the “boots on the ground” approach. I volunteered for my first BHA workday and instantly knew I had found my tribe. My wife and I both became life members, and I now have the privilege of serving as a District Director. I look forward to the work ahead with a great organization!
Samantha Lewis, 7th District Director
Nic Craig, 8th District Director
I grew up peeking under logs and rocks in search of snakes and salamanders in north Alabama. I was exposed to conservation issues at a young age hearing heroic tales of Lamar Marshall and Wild Alabama working down the road in Bankhead National Forest. It struck a chord which eventually materialized as a degree in zoology with a focus in biodiversity and conservation from Auburn University. I'm a software developer by trade and an adult onset hunter as of the sping turkey season of 2017. I'm currently cutting my teeth on upland and waterfowl with May, my small munsterlander.
Oscar McQueen, 9th District Director
My name is Oscar McQueen. I live in the community of Gray Hawk Kentucky which is located in Jackson County. My home is very near the Daniel Boone National Forest and Mill Creek WMA. I became a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers due to it mission being important to me protecting public lands. I work as a paramedic and EMS educator. I spend much of my free time in the outdoors with my wife, teenage sons, two young nephews and niece - with much of this time spent on public lands and waters. The idea of public land conservation is important to me because I spend much time with my family enjoying nature. I believe it is important to protect the public lands for the future generations. I have realized that there are threats to public land through politicians wanting to sell that land as well as the general public not understanding what a valuable resource we all own in public lands. I think it is important to show the public what a valuable resource our public lands and waters are.